By Dylan Smith
Last year’s Division One premiers have taken Premier Division by storm, winning five of their first six.
There was gradual improvement in Ben Osborne’s first two seasons as senior coach at the East Ringwood Football Club, with eight wins in his first year and nine in a Covid-affected second, as they sought to build a strong, resilient club for future success.
The first step for the new coaching team was to create a tight group that trusted each other.
They drew on a powerful message from African philosophy that aims to create harmony and teamwork.
“Our theme “Ubuntu” which means “I am because you are” It’s about connection and bringing the whole place together. After a while it became second nature, everyone plays and works for one another,” Osborne said.
In 2022, the message clicked, and their breathtaking rise was anything but gradual. They soared to a 17-win season and the end of a premiership drought. Now, just a year later, they sit atop the premier competition, not bad for a side that was supposed to be just getting a taste at the higher level.
Unsurprised by his side’s competitiveness this season, Osborne credits the comradery they’ve worked hard on and built together, largely keeping the squad that took them to the summit of division one last year.
“We had a lot of belief in the group we already had, they’ve played together for a few seasons, they’re all really good mates, they won together and love playing footy together, holding on to those guys has been really important.”
Promotion to the premier division also set up a meeting in round three with their club rivals Vermont, a game highly anticipated by locals.
Such are the good vibes that surround the club, the game was a slam dunk, winning by 90 points. Happy with the performance, Osborne says he’s keen to embrace and celebrate moments like these.
“Our club is in a really good spot, I’m a big believer in celebrating when you win and enjoying the moment,”
“As a footballer, you lose too many, so you need to enjoy it.”
Another keen focus area for the club has been developing systems and ways of thinking that govern the entire club.
“When you look at all our teams, like the women’s team and the under 19’s, we are all playing the same way throughout the whole club, if someone needs to step up a level, they know what they have to do, this has taken some time but we’re starting to see the benefits now.”
The women’s team sit atop their division ladder and a premiership coming last year in the under 19’s shows that their method is paying dividends across the entire club.
The team prides itself on being a contest and defensive first team and places high importance on the organisation behind the ball.
This season, as they moved up a level, they’ve brought in former AFL and East Ringwood player Aaron Fiora into the coaching lineup, who’s worked on ball movement from the back half.
“Aaron was always an aggressive ball user from half back so he’s really worked on that with the younger guys and when Aaron speaks, they listen.”
Highlighting the coaching team’s good work, East Ringwood rated number one for defence and number one for attack this season.
Speaking about expectations, Osborne is happy with the start to the season but says they’re definitely not done improving.
“We have to be better than six teams to play finals and we’ve only beaten five, so there’s a long way to go”