Ambitious new coach gunning for return to former glory

THERE is a new face in charge at Darebin this VFLW season, with former North Melbourne VFLW assistant coach Lachlan Walker taking the reigns.

He comes to the Falcons off the back of after having coached for seven years, two of which was spent as a VFLW assistant at North Melbourne, he felt that he was ready to take that next step and move into a senior role. Despite the Kangaroos also ultimately needing a new coach, the Falcons went early with advertising the role and Walker jumped on the opportunity.

New Darebin coach Lachlan Walker

Walker comes to a club with a rich, long and well known history in both the VFLW and women’s football more broadly, but he said that history does not add more pressure to him coming in.

“That’s a really good question, I don’t really feel that much pressure,” he said. “I think I’m pretty cool and collected, I’m a school teacher outside of this so I face a lot of adversity day to day and a lot of interesting situations. I was really conscious of respecting the history and the culture of the club, whilst also trying to take it in a new direction, turn over a new chapter and do something really special with it. Something I really wanted to keep at the club was their ability to bring the community together, to bring in past players, past coaches and for them to then deliver their experiences back to the playing group and improve them.”

“Some people might see it as a hotseat, particularly after the year last year and the need to improve, but I think by just having a really strong culture, really caring about people, then we’ll go in the right direction.”

Almost at the end of his first preseason in the role, Walker said that preseason had been going really well.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “We’ve probably been at it for about five months so I think we were probably one of the first clubs that started preseason in the VFLW, and we had a really good aim when I came into the program that we wanted to be one of the first clubs to start, start our recruiting process really early.”

“Definitely over the last two months we’ve had some really good improvement through our local players that come through into the team, and at our intraclub game we really started to jell as a team, and starting to build that team chemistry ad understand how we play. It’s probably come from our match sim at training, how much match sim we have been doing.”

There have been plenty of players that have impressed Walker in his first preseason at the club, both new and returning. Some of the names Walker shouted out included former VAFA star Emily Rayment, former VFLW Pie Riley Christgoergl and returning star and newly appointed vice captain Alyssa Mifsud.

It is going to be a very different looking Falcons side this season, with 40 per cent of the list new to the club, and 30 per cent of that new to the VFLW level.

A couple of the other new faces Walker noted were Sam Baisas, who came up from Beaumaris in the VAFA, and former NFNL Falcon Sam Pritchard, who was voted straight into the leadership group.

After the year that Darebin had last season, Walker said that there have been three main areas that have been the big focus to try and turn things around.

There was a big focus on player recruitment, with the club starting early and casting the scope wide, speaking to 150 players in a month.

The second was getting a strong coaching team that Walker said was “ambitious with a lot of energy”, and the third was getting an AFLW/VFLW level game plan that was a “really structured approached to how we play”.

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