By Justin Robertson
ADAM Dowie has the knack of making use of what he’s got.
The new Gippsland Power coach brings with him oodles of country football experience – as a player and a coach – and knows how to get the best out of his team.
In 2009 he coached Warrnambool to a grand final in his first year at the club.
Instead of looking for new recruits to bolster the team for a shot at winning the flag the following year, he got rid of several high end players because he felt they weren’t a good fit for his team.
Most at the club were puzzled by this bizarre move, but Dowie had a gut feeling.
This year, he coached Warrnambool to a flag without any high-priced recruits and his decision was justified.
The physical education teacher said he was excited about his new chapter of coaching.
“I’ve had a fair amount of success at a major country league and have had a habit of making good players better without getting big recruits at the club,” he said.
“There are a lot of coaches out there who have AFL or VFL backgrounds, so to get the opportunity to coach at this level is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Dowie played football from 1978 to 2002 with Allansford, Nirranda, Warrnambool and Terang-Mortlake, and was involved in a total of five premierships.
He coached Nirranda F.C. to a premiership in 1999, then in 2004 and 2005 he coached Terang-Mortlake to back-to-back premierships, then took over at Warrnambool in the Hampden Football League in 2009 and won a premiership in 2010.
When thinking about his plans for the 2011 season and guiding the next batch of under-18s into the realms of the AFL, Dowie said he’ll be making sure each and every player is prepared for the football world and life outside it.
“We got a pretty good group coming through, but we need to provide a pathway to the next level that’s one of my goals,” he said.
“But to be honest, a majority of the kids you coach aren’t going to get the opportunity to get drafted in the AFL system, so you need to focus on all players as equals and work on their social development – you can’t just give them football and nothing else. It’s my job to do provide a balance and leave no stone unturned.”
He was voted coach of the year in 1999 with the Western District Football League, and in 2005, 2006 and 2009 was voted coach of the year in the Hampden Football League.
Dowie also hones his coaching skills with new Essendon coaching assistant Brendan McCartney and North Ballarat’s Gerald Fitzgerald.
Dowie grew up right near the cheese and butter factory in Warrnambool and went to Ballarat University to gain his bachelor of physical education.
At the time he graduated though, his town suffered a series of unforeseen school closures that forced him to try an alternative and short-term career path.
“Warrnambool is a farming community, so I worked on a number of dairy farms,” he said.
“I used to love it. The cows would never argue back and you got to spend your days outdoors.”
Dowie will attend a handful of Gippsland Power training sessions between now and January as he picks up his life with his wife and three kids and moves from his home town to Warragul in the new year.
“I’m just pinching myself really,” he said. “If you had to write down the perfect job, for me it would combine teaching and football and now I get to do both.”
By Justin Robertson