Happy Valentine ready for Falcons kick-off

Geoff Valentine. Picture: Martin Kennealey d489765
Geoff Valentine. Picture: Martin Kennealey d489765

WAFL runner-up West Perth is looking forward to an intra-club game and scratch matches against East Fremantle and East Perth as it builds for season 2019.

Community News spoke to new Falcons coach Geoff Valentine on Monday at a West Perth lunch ahead of the Collingwood-Fremantle pre-season clash at Joondalup Arena.

Q: There was a good feeling around the playing group before and after the Christmas break, how you travelling now?

A: We feel like we’re going really well. It’s been a good pre-season. We just had our camp on the weekend to really strengthen those relationships with the players and coaches. It was at York – (former player) Matty Guadagnin has a farm there. We pitched some tents, had a few activities around the farm, very little footy. We had a little training session at the York footy ground, but it was more about spending some time together.

Geoff Valentine at the West Perth-Collingwood lunch with Australia men’s hockey coach Colin Batch at Joondalup.

Q: The feeling coming out of the camp?

A: Really positive. The feedback from the players was it was something they haven’t done for a number of years. We were able to get some real inroads in terms of how we want to go about our football and how we support each other.

Q: What is your philosophy on supporting each other?

A: The main piece at the moment is getting players to know what matters to their mates on and off the field. So if we can appreciate what our mate’s dealing with in his own life, we can help out in that situation. If I know what matters to you and I can be part of that, well it’s more likely that you’re going to dig in and help me when I need help. If you know that I care and I know that you care, we’re far more likely to put it on the line when we need to.

BUCKS CHATS TO COMETTI

Q: Where does that strong belief in supporting each other come from?

A: I suppose it has been shaped over my own football journey and what I believe in. I’ve been lucky enough to play in some good teams along the way and had some great mates. It’s also a real strength of this playing group. It’s not something I’ve just brought in. This group has been very strong and very tight. You saw the way they got through those hardships (Falcons’ financial crisis) of last year and performed on the field. We’re just trying to build on that.

Falcons on the training track at Joondalup. Picture: Martin Kennealey d489765

Q: What have you learnt from working with young players in your former coaching roles at Guildford Grammar School?

A: As a senior coach you know what you have here (in terms of players) but you’re always looking at the way players are progressing. You probably learn when you coach at under-18 level that it’s foolhardy to put a ceiling on where players can end up. We want to label them, pigeonhole kids… make judgments on players really early. We see it in the AFL all the time. A kid comes into the AFL and after four games the wider supporter base wants to tell you he’s a dud or he’s a champ. We just all need to step back and give these kids three or four years in the system and then see what sort of players they do become. I probably learnt that from a development point of view.

Q: What’s the focus for the next three weeks?

A: We’re training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. And we’ve got an intra-club game this Saturday and games against East Fremantle and East Perth. I suppose we’re trying to work out our best 22. We’re trying to get our head around the new rules and how that impacts the way we want to play. And now we are trying to put a bit of polish on how we want to play the game.

Q: Too early to mention some ins and outs?

A: Yeah, a little bit early. We’re really happy with the way the senior boys are training – the Shane Nelsons and the Aaron Blacks are leading the way. We’re happy with the way some of the young kids are coming on… And happy with the depth we’ve got in the ruck with Troy Yukich, Michael Ashfield and Ben Delaporte who are competing hard. It’s a good healthy squad. And we’re tracking along fairly well at the moment.