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By Matt Fotia

Lilydale’s strong junior program and plethora of home grown talent are just a couple of tantalising prospects for the Dales new Senior Coach Brendan Fulton as he endeavours to take the Falcons from good to great.

Fulton has been around the coaching traps in recent years with his first role coming at Chelsea Heights in the Southern Football Netball League, after his playing days with Bentleigh finally came to an end following a patella tendon injury.

Fulton had no plans to head straight into a coaching but when his former Bentleigh coach Brad Canavan got in touch, he ended up accepting a dual role as Reserves Coach and Senior Assistant.

Whilst it was the professional environment he would eventually end up in, it was a nice taste of what coaching is for the recently retired Fulton.

“Brad finished up at Bentleigh at the end of that year and went to Chelsea Heights and he phoned me up and asked if I was interested in being an Assistant Coach, I hadn’t thought about it much, but I ended up joining him across there,”

“It was tough, they’d lost a lot of players and struggled in the first season, but it was a really good learning curve there, being able to coach the Reserves and be the Senior Assistant and get a taste of it.”

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Fulton’s next move saw him land at one of the EFNL’s premier clubs in Blackburn, taking on the Under 19 Head Coach and Senior Assistant roles under Kon Karavias and his successor Brendan Allen.

Fulton, who looked to Karavias as mentor, was shattered when his time at the club came to an end but says he has learnt a lot from two contrasting coaches during his period as a Panther.

“Kon was an enormous mentor for me in terms of how to go about coaching, because I don’t think I genuinely knew enough about the work ethic required before then,”

“You had Kon who was the ultimate professional and I loved his ability to build a football program then manage and motivate people within that, whereas BA (Brendan Allen) is this super relaxed and calm operator whose gameday coaching was unbelievable, so I think the exposure to both coaches will put me in good stead for my time here at Lilydale.”

Fulton has also been lucky enough to gain access to more elite programs across his coaching journey.

Initially he was able to learn from Richmond’s VFL during their pre-season in an observational role, seeing how the Tiger’s state league coaches went about their work.

Fulton also spent time as a part time development coach with the GWS Giants Academy, working with their local youth whilst living in Sydney for work.

His time in a number of different football climates has provided Fulton more than enough opportunity to mould his own idea of how he would run a football program, learning from all of the coaches he has worked under.

“What I’m most looking forward to is putting my own spin on things. I want to build an environment a culture that envied”

Lilydale were not the only EFNL club looking for a Senior coach across the season that wasn’t.

Premier Division club Rowville are looking for a new tactician following John Brown’s departure whilst Warrandyte, Heathmont and Knox have all recently announced new coaches.

Fulton says a number of factors drew him to the Lilydale Sports Oval, not least the Falcons’ strong junior program.

“What drew me to Lilydale most of all is the junior program, the pathway is very strong and it’s in a place where I think the group has a huge opportunity to build upon their recent output,”

“I’ve already spoken to a few of the boys about ‘good to great’, you know it’s a good football club at the moment, but we have a chance to make it great.”

“On top of that it’s almost all home grown talent with enormous upside and they’re all tight knit group of people who love the club.”

From the outside looking in, the obvious target for the Falcons – who have made finals for the last three seasons, including the 2018 Grand Final – will be to achieve promotion to the Premier Division, but Fulton is more focused on creating an enjoyable environment that focuses on building people up.

“I’m very mindful of being one of those guys who talks about getting up into Premier Division all the time, because you’ve got to take care of things where you are currently.”

“I believe the football program that we’ll implement will go a long way towards inspiring, teaching and leading this young group to become winners. We want to create a team environment that allows everyone to add their own bit to the team’s overall success,”

“We’ll place a lot of focus on strength and conditioning, injury prevention and the way we defend as a team whilst the coaching group we’ve assembled will be laser focused on player development and improved player feedback.”

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“The key thing for us will be bringing that professional approach whilst having fun and enjoying our environment,”

“The last thing you want to be is always serious, the guys have got to be having fun, so that’s the environment I want to create – professional but fun.”




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