SOUTH Mildura Sporting Club coach Ben Dalton knows the field well.
When you’ve been brought up around football, and raised on the sidelines, it’s only natural.
“I was at local football every weekend from a baby,” the 28-year-old told Mildura Weekly recently.
“Coming from a sporting family who was heavily involved in our local club, and also being the youngest of four children, I started in Auskick at six years of age.”
Dalton, who was born and raised in Warrnambool, moved to Brisbane for five years for University, before returning back to his hometown, and then moving onto Mildura.
“I moved to Mildura from Warrnambool in June of 2019 with my wife Rachel to start our business F45 Training Mildura,” the personal trainer said.
Dalton played all of his junior football with South Warrnambool in the Hampden Football Netball Leauge and played his first senior game with the club at 17.
“When I was 19, I moved to Brisbane to play for Morningside in the NEAFL/QAFL for four years before returning back to my home club South Warrnambool in 2018,” he said.
“I missed season 2019 with moving to Mildura mid year, before signing with South Mildura.”
Dalton signed with South Mildura during the 2020 preseason, but with the season cancelled due to COVID, he didn’t play his first game with the club until Round One of 2021.
“There was a nice sentiment in coming to South Mildura from South Warrnambool,” he said.
“I joined South because I saw it as a club that I could have a real impact on.
“It was a great fit for me and where I was at that point in time of my football.
“I have been lucky enough to play in successful football sides, so I really wanted to be able to give back and pass on things I had learnt over my football career.
“I also was very welcomed by the playing group.
“The leaders of the club had started training at my gym, which made it really easy decision to go to South after they became great mates.”
Dalton plays off the half back line for the Bulldogs, believing it assists in controlling the structures of the team.
He said it is the best position for a playing coach as you can see the game unfolding.
“In previous seasons I would say my strengths would have been my attack and skill coming off the half back line,” he reflected.
“Now as a coach, my role has changed and it would now be more about leadership on the field, helping to set up team structure and communicating amongst the playing group.
“I think I have brought a fresh set of eyes to the club with different ideas.
“A big thing I have looked to implement at the club is lifting the standard each player holds themselves to; both on and off the field.”
Next season Dalton said he is looking forward to continuing to see the development in the group and improve on their 2021 season.
He said the club seen huge improvement from the list last season and they will continue to develop that so they are more competitive each week.
“We are looking forward to winning more games of football and getting South Mildura back playing finals football,” he added.
“We want to continue to bridge the gap between South Mildura and the best teams in the competition.
“I will always take team success over any individual performance so that will be my main focus for next season.”
By ZOEY ANDREWS
ABOVE: Ben and his wife Rachel moved to Mildura to start a business.