WHAT career path to take after football can be a difficult proposition for players, but Port Adelaide defender Riley Bonner is keeping his options open by pursuing a football role outside of Alberton in 2020.
Bonner has decided to take on an assistant coaching position in the under 16s at SANFL club West Adelaide - the club where he played his junior football.
The rebounding defender says it’s a great development opportunity for him, while also giving back to his junior club that supported him growing up.
“It was nice to go back to Westies because I know most of the faces back there,” Bonner told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“I think it’s important to get out to junior clubs, and for me to be able to do that through coaching is great.
“I’m just looking to develop my skills and have it as potentially a pathway after footy - if that’s what I decide to do.
“It’s a good way to keep my options open for when I stop playing, and I just want to try and help some good young footballers reach whatever level they want to get to.”
Fantastic to have Riley Bonner back at Westies as an assistant coach in our under 16 side.— West Adelaide FC (@WestAdelaideFC) February 18, 2020
Riley has completed his level one coaching course and is keen to get some coaching experience from our under 16s coach Michael Wakim. pic.twitter.com/NAuC1eRu1N
The 22-year-old will coach the young Bloods on a Tuesday night - and any other time his busy Port Adelaide schedule permits - and has been encouraged to draw on his 42-game experience at the senior level.
“My basic role there will to be to help out with the defenders,” he said.
“The other coaches have encouraged me to lean on my knowledge from playing at AFL level and speak up during training sessions.
“These kids are looking to make it into the AFL, so they are willing to learn and listen which is really positive.”
Bonner completed his level one coaching course, and said he found a passion for coaching while working with Port Adelaide assistant coach Nathan Bassett.
“I started doing some coaching with Bass,” he said.
“He’s got an academy that he runs at Westminster for the junior students out there - around year 6 and 7.
“We help out there Tuesday and Thursday mornings, then he has a few holiday clinics that he runs throughout the year.
“I have found a bit of a passion through that.”
The smooth-moving left-footer said it was important to have other interests outside of football, with study a real focus for him.
“I’m not really a bloke who likes to sit at a desk all day, I’m more hands on,” he said.
“I’ve started a teaching degree, which I have had to put on the back-burner. That is always another pathway and option for me.
“I have also done a property development course last year, and this year I have dipped my hand into a bit of coaching.”
Bonner played 19 games for the Power in 2019 after 19 games and a rising star nomination the year prior, and will be looking to further cement his position in Port’s defensive set-up in the club’s 150th anniversary year.