By Matt Fotia
After well over 200 senior games at a handful of notable clubs Paul Donahoo is finally ready to hang up the boots and step into the coaches box.
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Donahoo, who has spent time with Ringwood, Noble Park, Springvale Districts and Prahran Assumption along with a few years in the United Kingdom, recently accepted the role as senior coach at Warrandyte following the departure of Anthony McGregor.
Becoming a coach was always a when not an if for Donahoo and the chance to become part of the furniture at Warrandyte was too good an opportunity to pass upon.
“It was always there, it was always something I wanted to happen (coaching) and something I knew would eventually happen but I just couldn’t give up playing,”
“The opportunity came up at Warrandyte and I knew the players, knew the group and thinking long term the option was to either play another year and maybe go and coach at a new club or jump into this opportunity.”
It isn’t the first time Donahoo has been the coach of a club, having performed a similar role whilst in the UK. However the responsibilities of a senior coach in Melbourne’s East differ strongly to those in Britain.
“When you’re over in the UK you’ve got a bunch of people who are there to travel, have fun etc and football is used as a social avenue,”
“So you might have 120 people go through the club across a normal 15, 16 game season.”
The Bloods were finalists in 2019, falling to eventual Runners Up the Waverley Blues, in a thrilling extra time Elimination Final. Whilst a tilt at the Premiership would be the obvious next step for the new coach, Donahoo is more excited about the new wave of youth coming through the club.
“The most exciting part of the Warrandyte job is the untapped talent in the youth we’ve got,”
“With salary caps being slashed and so on, you’ve really got to rely on what you’ve got within and we’ve got some pretty amazing young players coming through the ranks,”
“I really enjoy nurturing young talent and hopefully it’ll be able to set Warrandyte up for sustained success and see us jump up a couple of grades.”
Unlike most clubs in the EFNL, Warrandyte’s juniors don’t play in the EFNL junior competition.
Despite this, Donahoo is confident that the club are doing enough to keep the connection strong between senior and junior club.
“Luke Dunn has coached the Under 17’s the last few years so there’s a good connection there to introduce them into the senior club and that’s something that we tried to do in 2019 – get a few senior boys down to the training to help out.”
“You’ve got to look after your own, you’ve got these people on your doorstep, you don’t have to go out and chase these big name recruits.”
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With optimism high about the future talent in their own backyard, it’s not hard to see why many think the Bloods will be around the mark come finals time in 2021.
However Donahoo believes it will be hard to get a read on how the division will shape up, given the significant changes to the way football clubs will be run and some of the player movement that has already occurred.
“The change in the salary cap and other things mean that we don’t really know what the competition is going to look like next year,”
“You think of someone like an East Burwood, who picked up a few players from Balwyn, how does the change in salary cap affect them?, Waverley Blues lost Billy Evans and James Coghlan – two of the best players in the competition last year – and it’s hard to replace people like that,”
“So my aim is not going to be about winning a final or anything like that, for me it’s going to be about the growth of them as people and as footballers which will set up the club for some sustained success.”