Werribee has moved a step closer to finalising its 2020 VFL football department, with respected Hampden FN League coach and mentor Mathew Buck joining the club as a Development Coach.
After almost two decades as a player and coach with a number of clubs in the south-western Victoria competition, Mat jumped at the opportunity to join Werribee and take his already prosperous coaching career to the next level.
Werribee Football Manager Stuart Balloch said Mat’s relationship with a fellow coach and his success in country football were important factors in this appointment.
“Mat Buck came to the club through connections with Michael Barlow. He has been involved as a coach and an assistant at successful clubs in the Hampden League and is now looking to progress and develop himself at state level.”
Mat’s coaching footprint on the Hampden League post his playing days with Terang Mortlake, North Warrnambool and Koroit, is extensive and punctuated by a constant theme, success.
In 2019, Mat returned to powerhouse Koroit for a second stint as an assistant coach, and for the third time in half a dozen seasons played a part in the club securing its record sixth consecutive premiership.
After two successful years under south-west coaching great Adam Dowie, Mat took the senior coaching reins at South Warrnambool in 2016, where he led the club from eighth to two successive finals series.
Photo: Rob Gunstone
Mat’s Werribee connections played a small part in landing his next coaching venture, and it was through none other than Michael Barlow.
“I know Michael through his brothers Herb and Dom who are based in Warrnambool,” Buck said.
“They are a great family and have been extremely supportive of my coaching journey. I sat down with Michael earlier in the year about my aspirations to coach at a higher level and then an opportunity at Werribee came up and everything fell into place.
“I’ve always loved coaching and teaching. The challenge of stepping up into the VFL was probably the spark I was looking for and since starting I couldn’t be happier with the decision.
“Being able to listen and learn off Mark Williams and the rest of the coaching staff is like attending football university and after each session I leave with an increased knowledge base. The players and wider club have been really welcoming and it’s impressive to see a club really live their values.”
Player development at Werribee was at the heart of team and individual success in season 2019, a theme Mat is excited to continue in 2020. But before stepping into the role, Mat did all in his power to build on his own development as a coach.
A teacher by trade for a decade, currently at Warrnambool College, Mat spent the majority of 2019 upskilling and adding to his level 2 AFL coaching accreditation and certificate 3 and 4 in fitness
“I spent the year planning on how I could continue to improve my coaching,” Buck said.
“I approached mentors in Daniel O’Keefe (Carlton Development Coach) and Michael Barlow and had conversations about what I needed to do if I was to move into a higher level.
“I committed to undertaking some football education by doing some short coaching courses, one with Brendan McCartney’s Player Coach program, which has been a great experience and later this year I’ll be participating in David Wheadon’s Next Coach program.
“I spent the summer with the Warrnambool based squad for the Greater Western Victoria Rebels which gave me a small look into the NAB League competition and I enjoyed that experience.”
Werribee’s values of Community, Care and Driven, are lived by all at Avalon Airport Oval, and also by the club’s newest arrivals. Mat, his wife Rachael and their young sons Oscar and Hugo have given back to the south-west community through foster care. The Bucks have welcomed in excess of 100 less fortunate children into their home on a regular basis.
“I think it’s important to find a club that suits your personality and values that you hold high as a person,” Mat said.
“It was clear that the Werribee Football Club has a strong commitment to the people in its football environment … a group of players that are driven for success and will do the work required to get the results.
“The work the club do in the community was honestly unparalleled with any other football club I had seen. All of these factors meant that Rachael and our family thought we would feel comfortable becoming a part of the club and hopefully being able to contribute and help the club and community thrive.”