Star Lion Neale a coach in waiting

Star Lion Neale a coach in waiting

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The Next Coach Program is a partnership between the AFL Coaches’ Association and the AFL Players’ Association.

The course brings together coaches across numerous sporting codes from community through to professional ranks, along with current AFL players. Challenging talented and experienced minds, Next Coach mentor David Wheadon assists participants to explore their own coaching ideology.

Over 10 years the Next Coach Program has been a highly-valued learning opportunity for many AFL players including club Captains, All Australians and premiership winners.

Now, in 2020, it includes a Brownlow Medallist.

Lachie Neale’s future is paved with gold. With the league’s most-coveted individual medal already in his trophy cabinet, he has well and truly made his mark on the game.

But his golden future may not be as a player alone, even though this would far exceed most people’s dreams.

At 27 years of age, the Brisbane Lions’ ball-getter has a wise head on his broad shoulders and is shaping up to flex more than physical muscle on the field as his potential as a top-level coach takes shape.

Neale is keen to explore the coaching side of football and after completing the ‘Next Coach Program’ in 2018, he loves what is on offer.

“I’d heard good things about it, then once I started the program, I could tell straight away I was going to learn a fair bit,” Neale said.

“I went in thinking there’s going to be certain ways coaches coach but they teach you pretty quickly there’s no right or wrong way, you can have your own opinion just as long as you can back up why.”

The program clearly works, Neale is in fine company with fellow graduates including Adam Simpson, Simon Goodwin, Rhyce Shaw and Ben Rutten, who is about to begin his own journey in the main role.

The twelve sessions focus on coaching the team and individuals, the art and philosophy of coaching, emotional intelligence, decision making and game plans.

As the Next Coach Mentor and life-time coach, Wheadon brings 30 years experience at the top level to his role. With such expertise on offer, Neale sees the course as an experience well worth his while.

“I was surprised how much love and passion is put into the program by David, it’s easy to see how much he cares about it and wants us all to succeed,” said Neale.

“Also, the fact that he keeps in contact and follows up with a lot of the people involved, I thought was awesome.”

The Next Coach Program is an opportunity to move forward with your football in a truly positive environment.

“I’ve been around footy for a while now and I’m learning something every day and that was no different, it was just a great learning experience for me and I loved it,” said Neale.

There are courses on offer in November and February with limited spots available. Find further detail and the registration links at

For more about the Next Coach program, see the attached flyer. 

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