Bearing Brent of hard work

January 05, 2018

Looking into the future: Former Seymour playing-coach Brent Colbert said country coaching gigs could become a full time role.

Stellar effort: Brent Colbert celebrated his 200th game for Seymour last season, traveling from his base in Melbourne for Goulburn Valley games.

Brent Colbert sees a time when full-time coaches will be appointed to community football clubs.

That day might not even be that far away, with how the game in the bush has changed during Colbert’s time in football.

Colbert, who was drafted to Western Bulldogs in 2001, found his spiritual home at Seymour and played in the club’s most successful era as the Lions won three premierships from 2005 to 2007.

The star defender played under the highly regarded Steve Daniel, along with Bernie Haberman, before stepping into the top job in 2014.

Colbert led the Lions until stepping down at the end of last season.

‘‘It only takes one team to do it (appoint a full-time coach),’’ Colbert said.

‘‘You see how professional the metro comps are getting and even the GV has been leading the way as well.

‘‘From a financial point of view, it’d be hard to justify paying someone to coach full-time, but what you’re doing at the moment essentially is worth a full-time job any way, and that’s on top of your regular day-to-day job.’’

Colbert gave the job everything he could during four seasons, but decided it was time for a change during the year.

Living in Melbourne, travelling up to Seymour and constantly thinking about football had taken its toll.

Being a playing coach, Colbert also decided to call time on his career on the field.

He loved the in-season work, but it was the out-of-season work that was most draining.

‘‘I still enjoyed all the pre-season training, but recruiting had become a nightmare and I certainly won’t miss that at all,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘In terms of recruiting, we have a particular focus on who we target and every year we’d speak to 20 or 30 players and you might only land one or two of them.

‘‘Your number one priority is to retain the current list and then you go from there.

‘‘Around probably round 13 or 14 you start planting the seed with a few players about their plans for next year and if they’re sticking around.’’

Colbert learned a lot off Daniel and Haberman and he came into coaching at a time when playing coaches were making a resurgence.

The on-field coach was thought to have been a relic of a bygone era, but a young leader at Benalla changed all that in 2013.

By the beginning of 2015, a number of GVL clubs had followed Benalla’s lead with Luke Morgan.

‘‘It was pretty unique before Luke Morgan came along, but everyone seemed to want to go down that path again after it was working well at Benalla,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘I’m trying to compare coaching to 10 years ago when we had Steve Daniel, but it’s all very different.

‘‘We had such a strong side and we worked hard, but a lot of it took care of itself.

‘‘Steve would’ve done a lot behind the scenes, but I was more involved when Bernie took over and he started to bring in a lot more things from a higher level.

‘‘In my four years I wanted to bring in more of the high performance and conditioning things.

‘‘Every year you want to get better as a coach and you put in more time to get better, putting in the extra hours and being silly enough to play as well.

‘‘You’ve got to be able to prepare your own body as well as coaching, so the demands are probably even higher for a playing coach and there’s that lifespan on any coach, let alone a playing coach.’’

Considering the work put in by coaches is almost equivalent to a full-time job, the money they receive does not add up.

Which is why Colbert sees full-time community coaches as a possibility.

‘‘The metro clubs are getting more powerful and I speak to my friends and they have money at their disposal with sponsors,’’ Colbert said.

‘‘Whether it be camera equipment or funds for an amazing pre-season camp, a sponsor will put up their hand.

‘‘The GVL is going through a tough phase at the moment and it is getting harder to recruit players out of Melbourne because it is so enticing to stay there now.

‘‘A guy like Andrew Sturgess would’ve been perfect to take over my role, but he wanted to further his coaching career in the VFL and there wasn’t the right pathway for him here to do it.

‘‘But Seymour is lucky they were able to find an experienced guy like Nick Jewell who will do a good job.’’

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