20 years’ service earns Lane Coach of the Year honours

Junior football is a huge part of Phil Lane’s life.

The joint AFL NSW/ACT Junior Coach of the Year has been coaching the next crop of football players in Sydney’s western suburbs for two decades.

So many junior coaches get into their local club as a way to support their children. But for Lane, he was dobbed into it by his dad, who was briefly visiting.

“I’ve got three girls who had no interest in sport. I played for Penrith as a junior and was originally from Melbourne so I’ve grown up with football,” Lane said.

“My father was up from Melbourne and, somehow, was speaking to people at the club and he ended up getting me involved. I went to Penrith in 2002 as an assistant coach and took over as the 16s coach halfway through the season.”

Since then, Lane has spent almost every season coaching. First the Penrith Juniors, then the Parramatta Seniors and now Baulkham Hills. The move to Baulko was because Lane moved house, giving him an opportunity to align with a new club and work with a fresh bunch of players.

Moving house could have been an easy excuse to slip off the radar, but not for Lane. “The reason I continued on is because I want football to be bigger in western Sydney, and I want to do everything I can to help football in western Sydney.”

Clearly interested in the upper echelons of football talent, Lane reminisces about seeing Dustin Martin tearing it up for the Wollondilly/Camden side, the Razorbacks as an U16. He’s coached the western Sydney representative team on many occasions.

He also speaks fondly about the football community and how many friends he’s made from the AFL Sydney scene.

When asked about how football has changed in western Sydney over the past two decades, Lane said: “It’s changed since the GIANTS have come into the AFL as there’s more coverage of the sport. The girls’ competition is also really popular.”

Lane looks forward to continuing to work with up and coming sides and continue to build the game in his region, while improving performance of every player he coaches.