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Russell Busy in transition

The most unfortunately timed foot fracture spelt the beginning of the end of Jordan Russell’s AFL career.

Despite reaching some form before his injury, a one-year contract with Collingwood came to an end with him struggling to emerge from their VFL side.

“it was a big chapter in my life that was closing” – Jordan Russell

It was Russell’s second delisting in two years after crossing from rivals Carlton at the end of 2012. His eight-year career yielded 125 games.

As he edges closer to 30, with his AFL career in the rear-view mirror, Russell is heading in a new direction.

“I’d been pretty experienced having been delisted twice in two years. I ended up being pretty good at it unfortunately,” says Russell.

“It hurt; it was a big chapter in my life that was closing. But I’m always someone who is positive and looks forward to the new challenges.”

Russell’s new career path isn’t an entirely different one.

He’s still playing football at the Western Bulldogs’ VFL affiliate Footscray and has become their development coach.

On top of this, he’s also completing a Business Management Diploma at Ashton College – to assist in growing his existing clothing line with former-teammate Bryce Gibbs – whilst running his own training sessions and assisting the growth of a friend’s athlete nutrition business.

This packed schedule has brought flexibility and enabled Russell to enjoy his transition without having time to dwell on what could have been.

“I’ve been doing six or seven different things which have kept me ultra-busy,” says Russell.

“That’s the one thing I wanted to do – to try and be as busy as possible so I’d never have any downtime to stop and wish I was still running around playing footy and hanging out with footy blokes every day.”

“I saw the writing on the wall and took a step back and realised how much I enjoyed helping out the younger guys” – Jordan Russell

Russell discovered his desire to coach and enjoyment of helping young talent during a downturn in his own form later in his year at Collingwood.

“When my form was kind of going downhill I felt like I reverted a bit back to the young boys and used my knowledge of growing into a player to try and help them,” says Russell.

“I guess it was kind of a coping mechanism for me – I think I saw the writing on the wall and took a step back and realised how much I enjoyed helping out the younger guys.”

Russell’s development role at Footscray has seen him nurture some of the best young talent at the Western suburbs club.

“I’ve got five or six of the youngest guys and am trying to take them under my wing – doing extra weights with them, speaking to them about diets and trying to help them become better footy players in training and in games as well if they’re in the VFL side,” says Russell.

“This is great fun and a little look at what I’d love to get into.”

His new role in football also includes a session a week with the Western Bulldogs – something which Russell says is an exciting glimpse into what he wants his future to consist of.

“I sit in with Chris Maple (the Bulldogs’ head of development) and learn the craft of being a development coach – sitting in on VFL reviews and team selection and the AFL side of things as well,” explains Russell.

Although his passion for nurturing young talent into the AFL is clear, Russell says he doesn’t harbour hopes of furthering himself into an assistant or senior coach.

“I want to just be a development coach,” he says.

“At this stage of where I’m at, I’ve no ambition to try and get higher than that. I really enjoy seeing the 18, 19, 20-year olds grow really quickly and knowing I’ve had a hand in that.”

With Footscray sitting second in the VFL and the young brigade of AFL talent emerging from EJ Whitten Oval beginning to turn heads around the nation, Russell’s reputation as a development coach has a perfect opportunity to rise quickly.