InFocus 2022 – Donvale

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By Davis Harrigan

It’s no secret Donvale have started to move up the rankings, over the past couple of seasons to make a serious challenge for finals and silverware. 


The Magpies have become one of Division Three’s respected clubs and look very much ready to clinch the premiership cup sooner rather than later.


After victories against the Waverley Blues, Ferntree Gully, and the rising Scoresby in 2021, the Magpies potential is right on the cusp of breaking through.  It’s been four years since Donvale won the Division Four premiership, and the desire to continue the quest for success has never been greater.


Coach Kevin Collins is very confident his side can continue where they finished last season and improve upon what could have been, having not had the chance to face everyone in Division Three – but the focus has now turned to being as strong as possible for 2022.


“We’ve had a pretty intense pre-season and we’ve worked really hard on our skill levels and some of our set plays, and what we’ve done is we’ve built on what we had last year,” Collins said.


“In our last game (of 2021), we were 10 points up in the third quarter and we won by 14 goals, so things were starting to work for us, and we had a lot of momentum happening.


“We’re pretty confident we can regain where we left off and be really competitive.”


A strong injection of young talent comes directly from Donvale’s Under 19s, a team that created several opportunities in last year’s limited campaign.


Collins highlighted how much depth is already being showcased, and how the new generation of players will serve to benefit the club, along with those already a solid part of the side.


“We trained before Christmas, and our numbers were consistent, I think we never had less than 45 on the track, so we’ve got really good numbers and it’s really healthy,” Collins said.


“We’ve got a really strong injection of our under 19 players from last coming through, and five of them played games in the seniors.

“So, we’re hoping they solidify their spot in the seniors as they did last year.


“They’ve been fantastic and we’ve training together, and only recently just separated.


“They’re well coached by Scott Hamilton and they’re all on the same page,” Collins said.


Internally and team first, the focus is on the elements that can be controlled and can be adjusted to, with preparation put in place should there be a situation or environment that requires the need for change.


“Internally, we can control the tempo and quality of training, the connection of the players, and we can work on that.


“At the moment, it’s in a really good place,” Collins said.


“We know there’s going to be some adverse situations throughout the year, and it’s how we react to them, and we’ve got different scenarios for what goes on.


“When things aren’t working our way, we’ll be ready for them and work through them.


“It’s part of the challenge.”


Utilising his coaching staff, Collins has also given the reigns over to his assistants a lot this pre-season, to vary up communication and allow for fresh perspective.


“We’ve got great coaches and the players don’t hear too much from me, they hear it from Justin Goldsmith who’s taking the forwards, or from Jack Hamilton taking the backs, they go in a cycle to different coaches and they’re hearing different messages,” he said.


Come round one, against the Whitehorse Pioneers, Collins won’t be pulling any punches, but the priority is playing “Donvale footy”.


“We’ll play anyone, anywhere, anytime,




Last season is one Donvale would like to move on from and look ahead to 2022.


To add some fresh perspective, Steve Latino comes back to the club, this time donning the coach’s hat, having spent time in the Donvale under 19s.


It was his time in Premier Division that really sparked a desire to move into coaching, and he’s already excited by the progress made at training.


“I was just fascinated on the other side of football,” said Latino


“I did have a brief stint with Doncaster, but I actually spent most of my time there injured, so I was pretty much working with the coaches there.


“That kind of just piqued a little interest in the job.”


During his time at Doncaster, there was a strong emphasis on the professionalism, development, and strong, harmonious culture around the players.


“We actually started with a great core group, there’s been a core group of players that have been there since the inception of the women’s team.


“We’re trying to build from that and it’s something we’re focused on, and I definitely see it coming along.”


“I want to see the collective group just gel; from my under 19s days, the way we went about it, we tried to bring the group together and just have everyone enjoy each other’s company while playing football,” Latino said.


“That’s a key role, having everyone understand who each other is.


“I brought that across and utilised worksheets and got everyone to put down things they thought they could share with the group.


“I think that’s really important in a team.”


Latino is keen to see just how much determination there is, and does believe finals are a real possibility, but there are still all the other basics to hone and execute properly before the gears shift towards that point of the season.


“Given how the divisions have been structured, we definitely want to play finals.  Towards the end of last year, we started catching up to those top teams,” he said.


“With a full pre-season behind us and just getting back into the swing of things without any interruptions, that we can push for those finals’ spots.


“We definitely want to see improvement early on and a change in the group, which is our main focus, before we really set our eyes on finals.”

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