Brad Paatsch - My Redan Story
Tell us about your junior football days and what brought you to Redan?
I played all my Junior Football in the Colac and District League (CDFL) where I grew up.
Much of my career was with CDFL club Alvie where I was lucky enough to play in three
Under 16/under 17 premierships.
After finishing high school I went to the University of Ballarat to study Human Movement
during which time I travelled back home to Colac on weekends to play football but
trained during the week in Ballarat with Redan.
I had a few University mates in a similar position in that they were travelling back home on weekends to play but were looking for somewhere to training in Ballarat and at that time Redan welcomed University students to come and train. I considered playing for Redan at that time but had the pull of heading back home, primarily through friends and a girlfriend of the day back home in Colac.
After finishing Uni I worked in Melbourne for a year and then got a job back at the
University of Ballarat to set-up and run what was then a new pool at the University. During this time I shared a house with a couple of guys I knew through my Uni study days who were still studying in Brendan “Bob” O’Brien and Adam Pease.
Both Bob and Adam were playing at Redan, Bob was the captain and we were living in a house together just off the lake not far from City Oval so it made sense to play for Redan.
What were some of your best memories while at the club?
Even though we did not share much success in the early years I played at the club, I met some great people that I still keep in contact with now. We enjoyed some great times off the field and had a great core group of blokes that played together on and off the field.
Who were some of the coaches and players who had the biggest influence on your football while at Redan?
The first years were under Marty Cusack and then in the later years Brett Quinlan. Marty did a great job with what was not the most talented group of guys and he could play a bit himself when he wasn’t getting knocked out. Brett finally brought success to the club not only as a player and coach but in being able to attract other quality players to the club.
Is there a particular win that really stands out for you?
Our first win in many years against Daylesford under Barry Hills. Can’t remember the exact year but we literally had not won a game for years and in many games were getting well and truly beaten and we finally managed to win a game against Daylesford. The celebration was like we won a premiership.
How would you desribe yourself as a player?
Average but hard working.
It’s well documented that the late 90s was a difficult time for the club. How would you describe the spirit amongst the playing group and club generally during this time?
The late 90’s was very much a difficult time and as mentioned earlier we did not achieve much success. The spirit amongst the playing group was already really good, and we had a great bunch of blokes who just wanted to see the club survive.
I have no doubt if it was not for these guys and the many people working off field that the club wouldn’t have survived.
I have some very fond memories of a great bunch of people in the club in the late 90’s. Was not the most successful part of my football career but was probably one of the most enjoyable.
What do you think were the main reasons the club managed to turn it around and become successful?
As mentioned above there were a lot of people, both of and off field, who wanted to see the club survive and it was these people that helped keep the club alive and built the off-field platform for the success Redan has been able to achieve since.
Did you get along to any of the Grand Finals Redan played in since you move on?
Managed to get to the first two premierships won by the club in 2002 and 2003. 2002 in particular was a very big night.
From a professional perspective, you have worked in the AFL at both Collingwood and Fremantle. Tell us firstly about your time in setting up what is now known as the Holden Centre?
The professional experience at Collingwood Football Club for me was fantastic. I got involved with the club when they were rebuilding the club after nearly going out of existence.
I was able to drive what ended up at the time a real game changer for the club in the establishment of the Lexus Centre (now Holden Centre) in Olympic Park. A great club to work for with great people that played a significant role in developing my career.
What was it like working for Eddie McGuire?
A great person to work for who was very passionate about Collingwood Football Club
and equally passionate about the people and players that worked at the club.
What drew you across the Nullarbor Plain to the Fremantle?
I was running a Sports Management consultancy business in Melbourne that has offices
and clients all over Australia. We specialised in managing the feasibility and development
of new elite training and administration facilities for elite sporting teams.
We delivered new facilities for Melbourne Football Club, Melbourne Storm Rugby League
Club, Melbourne Victory A-League Club, Geelong Football Club, North Melbourne Football
Club and Carlton Football Club to name a few.
From the delivery of these facilities in Melbourne, we picked up the feasibility work for
Fremantle Football Club to look at options for a new administration and training home
for the club.
After developing this work for the Dockers for two plus years, the guy in my current
role moved on to become CEO of the West Australian Football League. The club asked
me if I would consider relocating to take on a role with the club full time to deliver a
new administration and training home and manage the club’s involvement and
negotiations for the new Perth Stadium that the State Government had recently
committed to build.
I had enjoyed my time travelling to Perth as a consultant and chatted to my wife who
had never been to Perth and we decided to give it a go. That was four years ago and
we have enjoyed every minute personally and professionally.
Can you tell us about your involvement with Fremantle’s new training facility
and the new Perth Stadium?
My role has been to manage the feasibility, development and all other aspects of the
club new administration and training facility at the City of Cockburn which is a $109m
I also managed the club design input and commercial negotiations for the Fremantle
Dockers use of the New Perth Stadium. I undertake other projects as required (I am
currently managing the club’s bid for a AFL national womens team) and assist the CEO
in developing club strategy and strategic direction.
Have you visited any major sporting clubs overseas and how do you think the AFL measures up in terms of infrastructure and professionalism?
I have been lucky enough to take two trips to the US to look at stadium and training facilities in late 2011 and again in November last year.
The AFL is very much up there in terms of professionalism and infrastructure development. In some areas we do it better than the US, but there are other areas where they are certainly leaders due to the shear size and scale of their sporting teams and leagues.
There is always some learnings from the US and I have been able to develop some relationships with US teams that enable us to keep up to date with what is happening.
Tell us a little about Ross Lyon and why you think he has managed to get the best out of his sides for such a long time?
He is a very clever individual and coach who is very good at keeping the playing group focused on the task regardless of week to week results.
So if we were to see a Fremantle/North Melbourne Grand Final, would there be any joy in North victory?
There would still be some joy in a North win, but I am very much a Fremantle Dockers man now.
What are your thoughts on the Bulldogs playing AFL matches in Ballarat from next year and the long term prospects of that initiative?
I think it is a great idea. I was actually involved in my consultancy days with the City of Ballarat in investigating the feasibility and infrastructure requirements for an AFL team playing regular games in Ballarat.
I see a real opportunity for it to succeed and personally would love to see it do well.
Do you see another Perth AFL side being viable in the next 10 years?
Will be a long way off in my opinion.
With the City Oval due for refurbishment in the next couple of years, is there something in particular you would focus on to improve the venue for players and spectators?
Work hard to align what the club requires with what Government wants to achieve in the region. This will help attract funding enabling the club to better ensure it can create the facilities to meet the requirements of members and supporters.
Think big, it’s amazing what you can achieve if you set the bar high and have a vision.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to work in an AFL environment?
Be prepared to undertake some volunteer or casual work to get a foot in the door. Once you get in the industry be prepared to work hard and opportunities will open up in the industry either with the club you are with or another club.