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‘Win at all costs’ seems to be the pervading ethos among most football coaches.

Not so for Kevin Dillon.

Dillon has shown time and again in 2015 that the development of his Port Melbourne Colts Under 9s players is his absolute priority. Winning, however, is of little concern.

It’s this approach that saw Dillon emerge as one of four shortlisted finalists for the coveted David Parkin Junior Coach of the Year Award at Friday night’s AFL Victoria Community Football Awards gala dinner.

But although Dillon didn’t take home the ultimate prize, he said it was wonderful to be named as one of the finalists because it gave his coaching group some well-earned recognition for their efforts throughout the year, as well as provided a boost to the broader football club.

“It’s good personally, (but) I mean we’re a reasonably young club (so) it’s good for the brand of the club in the community it’s operating in,” Dillon said.

“It’s also a good recognition of (the team). It’s not just me, there’s four other parents that are involved as assistant coaches that are supportive of that whole ethic, as is the broader parent group.

“I end up being the name on the piece of paper, but the credit should be, and has been, at least at the club level, spread more broadly than myself.”

Dillon has been described as “unflinchingly fair” and a “perfect example of good sportsmanship” by parents of the kids he coaches.

And never have these characteristics been more evident than during Port Colts’ clash with East Brighton earlier this season.

The Vampires entered the match light on for numbers – they had just 14 players – before their coach approached Dillon to ask if they could borrow a few Colts players to avoid a forfeit.

While other coaches would be willing to share their players with the opposing team in such a circumstance, most would normally send across their lesser lights to ensure that they still come away with the win. However, Dillon when above and beyond the spirit of the game and gave up three of four of the Colts’ most talented footballers.

These players were ultimately influential in the result as the Vampires broke through for their first win of the year.

Although the result may have been an unintended consequence of his actions, Dillon’s generous act certainly didn’t go unnoticed. East Brighton’s coach later voiced his appreciation for what Dillon had done as it had meant a great deal to the Vampires’ players given they had struggled for numbers throughout the year.

The gesture was also reflective of Dillon’s attitude that every single one of his players are equal, regardless of their ability.

“I imagined (the Vampires) were mostly getting the ‘lesser lights’ from opposition teams rather than their better players and then I also thought that if I followed that pattern, that (it) doesn’t send the best message to our ‘lesser lights’, i.e. that they’re kind of dispensable,” Dillon explained.

“And (it) also doesn’t send the greatest message to our better players (as it implies) that they’re kind of indispensable and so that’s not an ethic we want to encourage.

“I think we ended up sending the right message to everyone involved, as opposed to what the alternative message would have been had we chosen to do things a little bit differently.”

This match was reflective of Dillon’s philosophy that processes, participation and learning are more important than a win-loss ratio. As such, the Colts’ coach endeavours to give every player a fair go through equal game time. He also throws his side around, allowing everyone an opportunity to shine in all positions, rather than simply playing to the team’s strengths.

Dillon also aims to teach the young kids important life skills as he believes the lessons these kids learn from playing a team sport at a young age will greatly help them in later life.

“(Resilience) is one of the big things you can get out of a team sport. I mean you win some, you lose some,” Dillon said.

“Some things, whether it’s an umpiring decision, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s the wind or whether it’s just the luck of the bounce, you know things don’t always go your way (on the field), like they don’t always go your way in life.

“Being prepared to, and knowing how to, move on from things not quite working out perfectly is a big life skill that would stand everyone in good stead.”

Dillon and his team of assistants have already been locked in for next year and are looking forward to helping their charges take further steps forward in their development in season 2016.

By Will Hunter

 

Kevin Dillon

Coach Kevin Dillon addresses the troops.

 

Port Colts U9s

The Port Colts Under 9s are loving their footy under Dillon’s tutelage.