TAC Cup: FitzGerald says new Rebels role not for him

FOCUSED: Gerard FitzGerald with his game-day face during a Greater Western Victoria Rebels match at Mars Stadium this year.

FOCUSED: Gerard FitzGerald with his game-day face during a Greater Western Victoria Rebels match at Mars Stadium this year.

Ballarat football great Gerard FitzGerald is making the most of some rare downtime to consider what path his future might take.

FitzGerald is preparing for life outside the elite football coaching world for the first time in more than 20 years.

Gerard FitzGerald in 2015

Gerard FitzGerald in 2015

Having coached at either VFL or TAC Cup under-18 level since 1997, FitzGerald has decided to pursue something new. 

While he is unsure exactly what that might be – football will be in the mix in some form – the 60-year-old is no rush to make up his mind.

What FitzGerald is sure about though is that he will remain involved in the wider Ballarat community.

Continuing to develop his interests beyond football was a key factor in his decision not stay in the race to remain at the helm of the Greater Western Victoria Rebels.

With his two-year contract up, AFL Victoria expanded what had been a part-time Rebels head coaching role to a full-time regional coaching director, taking in male and female programs and other junior player development.

FitzGerald said he had come to the realisation while convalescing from a double knee replacement  the new direction was not for him .

He said the surgery had given him time to think about his future .

“It’s given me space. I’m happy to use that space to think about what’s next.”

FitzGerald said had he been successful in getting the full-time appointment with the Rebels he would have been on the training track every night and had various other roles away from what he liked most of all – coaching. “I’m a hands on person.”   

FitzGerald is not about to walk from football all together. It has been his life for all too long.

However, once he has completed his rehabilitation and is up and about again he admits he might be seeing a little more than of the family farm near Derrinallum while things settle down.

FitzGerald said community engagement side of his coaching stints with the Rebels and North Ballarat Roosters, which he led to VFL premierships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, had provided him with as much satisfaction as the success on the football field.

He cited being on hand for the redevelopment of what is now known as Mars Stadium into an AFL venue as being most rewarding.

VFL/TAC CUP COACHING

1997-2002 – North Ballarat Roosters (VFL)

2003 – Springvale (VFL)

2004 – Port Melbourne (VFL)

2005-06 – North Ballarat Rebels (TAC Cup)

2007-15 - North Ballarat Roosters

2016-17 – N Ballarat/GWV Rebels

FAREWELL: Gerard FitzGerald is applauded off by his players after his last game as North Ballarat Roosters coach in 2015.

FAREWELL: Gerard FitzGerald is applauded off by his players after his last game as North Ballarat Roosters coach in 2015.