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Q&A with new Senior Mens Football Coach

Gary Learmonth

WHERE DID YOU PLAY YOUR FOOTBALL AND TELL US ABOUT YOUR PLAYING JOURNEY?

I grew up in Cohuna and played all my formative years with Union (the club merged with Cohuna in mid/late 90's) including a senior premiership as a 16 year old. After playing for Vic Country in the Teal Cup (U17 National Championships).

I moved to Melbourne and spent time at both Collingwood and Carlton playing Reserve football. My playing career included time with Lavington in the Ovens & Murray, Kyabram in the GV and a premiership with Golden Square in the Bendigo FL before finishing at Darley as their playing coach in 2007.

YOU'VE SPENT TIME COACHING AT DARLEY AND MORE RECENTLY GORDON, WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS?

Playing finals are clear highlights and coaching Darley into their first BFL Grand Final the most vivid - this was also a lowlight with Ash Baker kicking a goal after the siren to win the Grand Final for Ballarat.

From an overall coaching perspective the highlights were seeing young guys play their first senior game and then go on to become great players for the club.

Coaching Darley U15 Reserves into this years Grand Final was also a highlight – many of the boys had only played in 3 or 4 winning games over the past 3 seasons so to see their improvement and enjoyment in playing the game was brilliant.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH SOME OF THE ELITE JUNIOR PATHWAY PROGRAMS

I started working for the Sandringham Dragons in the TAC while I was trying my luck at Collingwood. Part of my role was in recruiting and I also coached their U16 squad.

My work took me to Alice Springs to be the General Manager of AFL Central Australia and allowed me to be an Assistant Coach of the Northern Territory Thunder squad in the National Championship in both U16 and U18's where I worked with future AFL players Liam Jurrah and Liam Patrick.

Over recent times I managed the AFL Goldfields Junior Academy which exposed me to many talented players and coaches within the region as well as coaching AFL Goldfields Squads that toured Far North Queensland and Central Australia which were fantastic opportunities for the boys to play in different states and against other talented players.

WHAT WAS IT ABOUT REDAN THAT COMPELLED YOU TO APPLY TO COACH THE CLUB?

I have always respected Redan as an opposition coach at senior and junior level so after an initial discussion with the club I looked at the list and some vision and thought it was a great opportunity to work with a good list of talented senior and junior players.

My kids are a bit older and I thought it was possibly now or never coaching again at this level and was excited at the possibilities ahead for the club knowing many of the players.

WHAT STYLE OF FOOTBALL CAN THE SUPPORTERS EXPECT TO SEE IN 2023?

We will look to play an attacking style of game which capitalises on the talent within the group. Moving the ball with confidence, running and carrying the ball through the middle of the ground and being fit enough to ensure that we can pressure and defend the opposition with purpose when we aren't in possession. I want us to be hard to play against - with a fierce will to compete.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR RETURN TO SENIOR COACHING?

I’m looking forward to working with a motivated group of experienced players and talented youngsters to help educate and develop the group to become as good as they/we can be. I’m also looking forward to the challenge of coaching again in a major comp against some great coaches and trying to help our players prepare as best they can to be ready to play and beat the best teams in the competition.

Having coached juniors over the past couple of years I’m excited to broaden my coaching & learning from the other coaches and players to continue to improve my coaching.

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