TAC Cup Girls, U15 Keith Burns Squad, U16 Max Richardson Squad, U18 TAC Cup Squad

The Northern Knights are pleased to welcome new staff members for its 2017 Program. The off-season has seen significant change in key personnel in preparation for its 26th TAC Cup Season as well as the birth of the Girls Squads and the continued growth in the U15s and U16s Youth Academy Squad.

First and foremost, the club would like to thank and acknowledge the services of Frankie Raso, Brian Cartwright and Darren Vandenberg who have all been outstanding coaches of the Northern Knights and have been essential in the development of some of our finest players over the past few seasons.

“On behalf of everyone who has dealt with Frankie Raso throughout his time as both as a champion player and more recently a Senior Assistant Coach of the TAC Cup program we thank him wholeheartedly for the time and effort he has put into this program.” – Talent Manager Rhy Gieschen said.

“Frankie is truly a member of the Northern Knights family. I know in my relatively short time at the club Frankie has been a popular and really respected member of the club. We wish Frankie all the best in not only his Football journey but also his work and family life moving forward and hope to see him around Preston City Oval soon.”

“We also thank Brian Cartwright for his outstanding years of service to the club as an assistant coach, and Darren Vandenberg for the countless hours he has spent helping the Knights become a better place.”


The club will be spearheaded by its appointment of Justin Wenke as the U18 TAC Cup Coach. Justin previously coached the Oakleigh Chargers to their 2012 premiership, and has vast experience in the TAC Cup and with Junior Development Programs in the Yarra Junior Football League. Details of Justin’s full appointment can be viewed here.

The club will also welcome the addition of three new line coaches to assist Justin for the 2017 season.

Phil Plunkett joins as the club’s midfield coach. Plunkett comes across from Northern Football League Division 1 outfit Bundoora, where for four years he served as the club’s Head Coach guiding the club back to the top Division in his first year as coach. Phil is an ex-Northern Knight footballer and was apart of the Inaugural Knights’ squad in 1992.

Marcus Hastings will serve as the program’s Defensive Line Coach. Hastings arrives from VFL club Coburg, where for the past two seasons was the club’s Development League Coach and Senior Forward Line Coach. Hastings also has experience working in the TAC Cup with the Calder Cannons as a former U16 Assistant Coach in addition to coaching one of the teams in the recent 2016 AFL Victoria Young Guns Game. Marcus is a school teacher by trade and this should assist in providing our players with great one-on-one coaching.

Peter Buszard will come aboard the club’s new Forward Line Coach. Peter is a former Forward Line coach for the Oakleigh Chargers, working closely with the Knights’ new head coach at Warrawee Park. Buszard also spent time as a Vic Metro Assistant Coach, as well as currently serving as the U15 Vic Country Cricket Coach.

Marina Mateos has come aboard as the Northern Knights’ Welfare Manager for 2017. Marina is a Performance Psychologist at The Mind Room – a mental health service operating in Collingwood. She has also worked with athletes at the Victorian Institute of Sport assisting in their athlete’s navigation through the different stages of their athletic careers. Danny Bodycoat will also be a critical member as the new Northern Knights Welfare & Development Coordinator, working closely with the U18 group. Danny brings both a range of coaching and welfare experience.

“It’s certainly been a busy off-season finding the best possible candidates to help improve the TAC Cup program. I am thrilled with the staff group we have been able to put together and have no doubt once they start to get to work the playing group and Northern Knights community will see that each of our staff members will be able to have a really positive impact on the program.” Gieschen added.

“The coaching group are all outstanding people and are already hard at work collaborating to ensure a really productive pre-season. Player Welfare is a real focus area and to be able to secure Marina and Danny who will be able to guide and support these players through what is a really busy and sometimes stressful period of their lives will be invaluable.”

Girls Program

The Northern Knights have decided to run a Girls Program for 2017. This has developed from the growing Girls Football participation numbers  in conjunction with the development of the AFL Womens competition. We hope that this will be a key new pathway for girls in the region to pursue football at a higher level and enhance their sporting ambitions and dreams.

We are delighted to announce that Rebecca Privitelli will be the Knights’ inaugural coach for its’ Girls Program across both the Towards Zero Squad and the Girls Development Squad. An exemplary coach at just 21 years of age, Privitelli has already proven herself to be an outstanding mentor in her time with the Calder Cannons and Vic Metro squads – combined with her current playing career with the Carlton Football Club in the AFL Womens should prove to be an invaluable asset to the Northern Knights Program. Further information about Bec is available here.

Privitelli will be assisted by several new coaches with plenty of girls football experience in the Northern Region.

Matthew Anderson, David Craig, Wayne Hoare and Mark Muscat, will all be critical as Development Coaches to enhancing the skill development and general understanding to the junior female football talent in our region.

We would also like to welcome Rebecca Andrews as the club’s Girls Academy Manager. Andrews has great experience in the industry previously working at AFL Victoria and will be instrumental to the overall running of the program.

John Seng has come aboard in 2017 as the Girls Strength & Conditioning Coordinator and we also welcome Melanie Azzopardi to assist as the Girls Development & Welfare Coordinator.

Youth Academy Program

Our U15s and U16s squads will be coached by Brett Potter for another year. He will be joined by three new assistant coaches as well as three existing coaches from the club’s successful 2016 Program.

Brett Kennerley, Dom Taglieri and Steve Macpherson will continue in their existing roles with Macpherson doubling as the U15s and U16s Player Welfare Manager. Macpherson’s pedigree as a 188 game footballer for Footscray in addition to his full time job as a counsellor makes him ideal in creating a positive environment for our younger players.

Additionally the club would like to welcome the services of Russell Gardner, Caine Lowrie and Monty Stuart as Assistant Coaches for the Youth Academy Squad.

We thank Jeff Brown, Brett Bruce, Harmit Singh and Michael Tinkler for their commitments across the 2016 season.

High Performance

For the 2017 season, High Performance Manager Anthony Pierobon will be assisted by Jake Cowin in his new role as the U18 Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.

Replacing Jake in the role as U18 Rehab Coordinator will be Scott Bumpstead, who returns to the Northern Knights after a two year absence to be a key member in the club’s Injury Rehabilitation department.

With the Girls Program already underway, the Northern Knights 2017 boys training program officially begins next week with the Youth Academy Induction Night on Monday Night, with by the TAC Cup U18 Induction Night on the following evening.


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