Prominent country football figure David Loader is back in a head coaching role with Greater Western Victoria Rebels after five years with North Melbourne in the AFL.
He embarks on his second chapter with the regional AFL pathway program from Monday.
Loader takes on a far broader role this time around though, having been the part-time coach of the then North Ballarat Rebels under-18 boys' side from 2011 to 2015.
IN OTHER NEWS: Stick shed reopens as new tourism campaign begins
His new full-time position is multi-layered, with him having the responsibility of coaching the Rebels in the NAB League under-19 boys' and girls' competitions, and under-17 boys' and girls' development squads, as well as being responsible for talent identification.
The boys' and girls' sides previously had separate coaches in the NAB League, with Marc Greig in charge of the boys and Rhys Cahir overseeing the girls.
The changes are part of a major overhaul of the pathway program by the AFL in the wake the NAB League and other development programs being put on hold this year owing to COVID-19 shutdowns.
Loader said there were still a lot of details to be finalised as to how the Rebels program would be structured, including the make-up of his support coaching staff and future of training hubs.
He said having to manage boys' and girls' programs offered a new challenge, but ultimately all the youngsters were athletes.
"They have different needs, but their objectives are the same."
MAKING NEWS ACROSS THE WIMMERA:
Loader said his time at North Melbourne had been a "fantastic" experience - one which had him returning to the Rebels much more knowledgeable about all apsects of the game.
He was a development coach with the Roos, as well as coaching their VFL side.
He said it had been enormous to work with the likes of senior coaches Brad Scott and Rhyce Shaw, as well as Gavin Brown.
"It's invaluable. Nothing can compare with that."
Loader said so much has changed in the relatively short time he had spent in the AFL system.
Loader has spent nine years with the Rebels in various positions - beginning the journey in 2007 after coaching SMW Rovers in the Mininera District Football League.
He was a runner and development coach in 2007, backline coach in 2008, midfield coach and under-16 development squad head coach in 2009, and senior assistant and midfield and under-16 coach in 2010 before being appointed head coach.
Loader coached the Roos' first standalone team in the VFL from 2017.
He also worked in talent ID with the club.
Coinciding with the appointment of Loader, Phil Partington has returned to work at the Rebels as operations manager after being stood down early in the year as part of the COVID-19 shutdown of the NAB League and other pathway programs.
Did you know you can receive updates straight to your inbox? To make sure you're up-to-date with news from across the region, sign up below.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.