This week Aaron Lord talks to St. Kilda star Maverick Weller about his Carpentry course at TIV.
There is drive and dedication, and then there is Maverick Weller.
Every great sports organisation has one. The competitive beast who takes professionalism and determination to the next level. The hot-headed little mongrel dog who gets under the skin of unflappable opposition. The go-to guy who is silky smooth in one breath, but as hard as a cats head the next. They are the kind of blokes you want playing in your football team – and Maverick Weller has got the lot.
Thrown a lifeline by St. Kilda after a turbulent start to his AFL career on the Gold Coast, Maverick Weller has since taken the bull by the horns and never looked back. Known for his unwavering professionalism and commitment to his preparation and training, Weller has become an integral part of a much improved St. Kilda outfit who were desperately unlucky not to play finals in 2016.
Playing predominantly through the mid-field early in his career where he has the capacity to accumulate big numbers statistically, Weller has since developed the ability the push forward and kick clutch goals, adding another string to an already impressive bow and making him a far more difficult match-up and proposition for opposition coaches.
“It’s a new position for me (playing forward), but I feel that my strengths as a player really suit that small forward role,” Weller says.
“We’re pretty lucky at St. Kilda in that we have so much talent going through the mid-field so it allows me to be able to push forward at times and just play my role for the team,” he adds.
They are modest words from a highly driven young man who I liken to a young Paul Chapman – himself a superstar of the competition who could torment opposition teams with 30-plus possession games with his eyes closed through the midfield but then kick big goals in big games as an irreplaceable small forward.
As the Saints head into the Christmas break after a gruelling start to their pre-season, Weller is measured but optimistic when he considers St Kilda’s prospects for 2017.
“As a club we are definitely heading in the right direction,” Weller says.
“We expect a natural improvement in the playing group from year to year in any case, but when you consider the addition of seasoned players like Koby Stevens, Jack Steele, Jake Carlisle and Nathan Brown, we’re obviously pretty excited about the upcoming season.”
Away from the training track, Weller is one of eight St. Kilda players firmly entrenched in the Trade Institute of Victoria’s (TIV) Certificate III in Carpentry course based in Williamstown. The St. Kilda group has followed the Richmond Football Club model, which incorporates 12 Tiger players and has been a resounding success since TIV created a training program specifically designed to cater for AFL clubs.
“I’ve always enjoyed using my hands and building things,” Weller says.
“It’s a real compliment to TIV and the Carpentry program you guys run – it’s great fun, it provides an opportunity for us players to do something productive together on our day off and essentially set ourselves up for life after football,” he adds.
Consistent with his approach to his football, Weller is predictably as committed and dedicated to the course at TIV as you can get. He is a team player, but he is also his own man, and you get the feeling that Maverick Weller knows exactly what he wants in life and how he plans to get there.
“It really just comes down to what you want to get out of your life,” Weller says matter-of-factly.
“A Carpentry qualification is a great credential to have up your sleeve for life after football and that was one of the motivating factors for me to join the course at TIV.”
“I want to be able to set my family up and look after them, but it’s also about having some fun along the way,” he adds with a smile.
Importantly, Weller and his teammates have the endorsement and support of the entire St. Kilda football club – with none other than senior coach Alan Richardson (himself a qualified tradesperson) leading the way in that regard.
“Richo loves the program you guys are offering at TIV,” Weller says.
“He understands the industry, and is constantly reinforcing to the group the importance of making the most of your opportunities in life.”
It’s modern day coaches like Alan Richardson, Luke Beveridge and Alistair Clarkson who are responsible for not only producing quality footballers but quality people also. They have the interests of the performance of their football club first and foremost, but have genuine care and interest in the development of their players away from the football field also, which should never go unnoticed.
When you have pupils with the drive and dedication of Maverick Weller, it’s not hard to understand why St. Kilda is on the improve with a bullet – both on and off the field.
St. Kilda football club player development manager, Tony Brown, is quick to reinforce Weller’s qualities as a person and importance to the Saints on-field structure.
“Maverick Weller is just an outstanding human being,” Brown says.
“He’s dedicated, he’s committed and his work rate is unquestionable.”
“He goes a hundred miles an hour in everything he does, and he’s just terrific to have around the place,” Brown adds.
Those qualities aren’t just restricted to Maverick Weller however, and Brown acknowledges the unity and enthusiasm within the entire group who study collectively at TIV.
“The players are loving every part of the Carpentry program at TIV,” he says.
“The balance is perfect between footy and having the day with TIV each week, so the guys have the perfect set-up at present,” Brown adds.
With people like Maverick Weller, Alan Richardson and Tony Brown leading your football club, it’s pretty clear to see why most experts expect the Saints to have a fair say in how the 2017 AFL season will unfold.
For Weller specifically, the motivation is refreshingly simple.
“I enjoy leading. I want to win. I want to win games of footy and I believe our group is at the point where we can have a real impact on the competition in 2017.”
Author: Aaron Lord