Coates earns AFL’s state-wide volunteer award

A KEY off-field player in junior footy and Auskick at St Francis of the Fields Primary School in Strathfieldsaye, Danielle Coates has earned the AFL Community Football Volunteer award for 2021.

The physical education teacher and co-ordinator at St Francis has played a key role in Auskick growing from 20 participants in 2019 to 72 this year.

Coates, picture courtesy of the Bendigo Advertiser, was the AFL Primary School Ambassador award winner for Victoria.

St Francis was represented in the Bendigo Junior Football League by the under-12 girls team, and also in the under-12 A and C competitions, under-10 Blue, and under-9 Gold and Blue.

“To be named the award winner is incredibly humbling,” said Coates who started at St Francis in 2014.

She took a break last year for the birth of Caidie who is now 18 months.

There have been many highs across the past four years.

“The number of girls who have started in Auskick and now play for the school in the Bendigo JFL is fantastic,” Coates said.

“The growth of AFLW has played a big part in all of that.

“A major goal for me as PE co-ordinator is for the students to be involved in sport, to enjoy their sport, and be active no matter what sport or sports they choose to do.”

Coates said plenty of people chipped in to help Ausick and the school footy teams.

“There are plenty of people who do so much work and do not seek the credit.

“Adam Place, Hayden McDonnell, Caroline Strachan, Gerard Horan, Nicole Campbell, Simon Nihill and Tim Moloney and many others also deserve recognition.

“As do all the amazing junior coaches.”

Coates teamed with AFL Central Victoria to run an in-school footy promotion for prep-grade two; after school promotion for all of St Francis Primary School; and gained AFL Victoria School Rebound Subsidy funding to buy new playing jumpers for the school and St Francis Junior Football Club.

Another big activity was the AAMI AFL Virtual Camp with Richmond Football Club.

A talented athlete, especially at hurdles, Coates, Nee Dillon earned the Maxine Crouch Trust Fund in Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year awards in 2005-06.

Among the highs for the then-teenager were gold in the 90m and 200m hurdles at the Australian All Schools in Sydney, and silver in the 200m hurdles at the Pacific School Games.

At St Francis the students are given a chance to learn and try many sports.

“Diversity is the key. A lot of the skills in track and field can help in footy, netball or any other sport.

“Some of the students have never tried hockey or lacrosse, but really enjoy trying something they have never done before.”

Coates also thanked her parents for their guidance and support.

“They often speak about reward being through hard work, no matter what you do.”

Football plays a big part in family life as Danielle’s husband, Troy was playing coach of Kerang this year.

A premiership-winning coach of Strathfieldsaye’s senior team in 2019, Troy Coates first played at Kerang and then later with Eaglehawk in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League before he was lured by Storm from the Kerang Blues.

The AFL National Volunteer Awards were part of Toyota’s long-time support of the game.

National Club and Volunteer Support Manager, Alex Burgin said recognition and reward of volunteers was crucial to the success of community football.


“The AFL is incredibly grateful to each and every one of our 220,000 community football volunteers, the unsung heroes who work tirelessly to progress our great game in various capacities – at community clubs, leagues and every Auskick centre.”

Written by Nathan Dole.

Photo Courtesy – Bendigo Advertiser