Standout coaches recognised

The Australian Football Coaches Association has once again acknowledged and rewarded hard-working coaches and volunteers with its annual Gippsland Coach of the Year Awards.

AFCA values very highly the contribution that such individuals make towards improving, teaching and developing the community standards and relationships needed for future growth of the game.

Football Development Managers George Morgan, Michael Roberts, Paul Vaughan and Adrian Bromage are part of the regional AFCA and will be presenting awards to Gippsland regional winners, who were also nominated for the recent state awards with AFL Victoria. 

Phillip Island Football Netball Club’s future appears as bright as its present, with two of the club’s youth team coaches recognised in this year’s honours.

The Gippsland branch of the Australian Football Coaches Association named Bulldogs under 16s coach Sean O’Brien the Youth Coach of the Year and youth girls team coach Anne-Maree ‘Diddy’ Cuthbertson as Female Coach of the Year.

O’Brien, who led the Bulldogs to the Alex Scott and Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition fourths premiership, demonstrated a great ability to teach skills and break down the game as a high-level communicator for the age group he was coaching.

On match day, O’Brien was able to effectively use the player body types and strengths available to him and combined great player movement and structure with adaptability under pressure, while also developing strong leaders with high respect and mateship.

Cuthbertson guided the Island to the youth girls’ division flag in the Bendigo Community Bank Southern Gippsland Junior Football Competition through a successful implementation of tactics, player preparation, matchday structure and clear communication.

Her approach to recruitment supported the growth of the sport in the region and her passion for the development of the game promises to support female football well into the future.

Warranor Junior Football Club under 10s coach Duncan Ireland picked up the Junior Coach of the Year Award and Leongatha Football Netball Club’s Paul Carbis claimed the Senior Coach of the Year Award.

Ireland’s fun and value-driven approach and his understanding of, and commitment to, the AFL Junior Match Policy merited significant praise.

His rotation system ensured all children received the same amount of game time, regardless of how the scoreboard read, and was extended to grand final day, with participation and inclusion remaining the priority over the end result.

Carbis returned the Parrots to a fifth straight TRFM Gippsland League grand final – the second under his guidance – and while they were unable to defend their flag, Carbis impressed with his ability to manage a senior list decimated by injury for much of the campaign.

The Parrots used 43 players throughout the season – including 13 senior debutants, six of whom were still eligible to play under 18s – and Carbis’ assistance with the club’s thirds program and development of players helped Leongatha win its first under-18 premiership in eight years.

Steve Stainsby was declared the Auskick Volunteer of the Year for the second time in four years for his continued and substantial contribution as coordinator of the Inverloch Auskick Centre.

Anyone interested in coaching for the 2020 season is encouraged to visit to complete the online foundation accreditation.


2019 Gippsland Australian Football Coaches Association award winners:

Senior Coach of the Year: Paul Carbis (Leongatha FNC)
Youth Coach of the Year: Sean O’Brien (Phillip Island FNC – Under-16)
Female Coach of the Year: Anne-Maree Cuthbertson (Phillip Island FNC – Youth Girls)
Junior Coach of the Year: Duncan Ireland (Warranor JFC – Under-10)
Auskick Volunteer of the Year: Steve Stainsby (Inverloch Auskick Centre)


For more information, contact AFL Victoria Football Development Manager George Morgan at or on 0412 267 611.


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