HE IS the man with the Western Bulldogs’ future in his hands, and Chris Maple’s work has impressed his peers.
Maple has been named the AFL Coaches Association development coach of the year.
This is the second year the AFLCA has recognised the commitment, service and innovation of a development coach in preparing young players for AFL.
The former North Ballarat Rebels coach, who commutes from Ballarat, was humbled by the honour and said he was lucky to work with a whole team to develop promising players, from strength and conditioning to dieticians and fellow coaching staff.
“I’ve been down here five years now as head of development and it’s all about making sure we build good, well-rounded AFL players,” Maple said.
He is proud to be part of the journey for players like his former Rebel Jordan Roughead, Liam Jones, Ayce Cordy, Luke Dalhaus, Tom Liberatore or Mitch Wallis that are starting to be solid players for the Bulldogs.
Or, the next crop of players, like promising first years Nathan Hrovat, Jake Stringer, Jack Macrae and Josh Prudden.
Maple’s role will change next year as the Bulldogs prepare to launch their stand-alone Victorian Football League team, Footscray Bulldogs, breaking an alliance with Williamstown.
There will be more players to oversee as he plans to create the best development program in the VFL with a mix of TAC Cup, VFL and western suburbs talent.
Maple started his coaching career as a playing coach with Mininera club Tatyoon before leading Buninyong for three years and netting the 2002 Central Highlands senior premiership.
He has always been passionate about player development, stepping up from assistant to the Rebels head coaching job in 2007 and was named TAC Cup coach of the year, and leading Ballarat High School to a rare and coveted Ballarat Associated Schools’ first XVIII football premiership in 2001.