Meet Mark Pitura: Cultivator of the Colts

Mark Pitura has joined the Red Lions coaching team in 2014 with a very long and impressive footy resume. He has been assisting with our Colts squad, helping to develop the future of the club. We caught up with Mark to find out what makes him tick…

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the football experience that you bring to the Red Lions?

Fortunately had the opportunity to play AFL at the highest level for 6 years with Richmond, Essendon & Collingwood from 1991 to 1996. This included playing under coaches like Peter Schwab, Alan Jeans, John Northey, Mark Williams, Kevin Sheedy, Danny Frawley, Tony Shaw & Norm Dare. I then moved across to Adelaide and played over 90 senior games for Sturt in the local SANFL competition. After this I travelled up to Queensland where I played for the Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast for 3 years before traveling across to the UK. In London, I was the senior coach of the Putney Magpies in the AFL London competition for 7 seasons. I had the privilege, in August 2009, to be appointed the head coach role of the Great Britain Aussie Rules Football Team and first coached them to victory against Denmark in October of that year. I’m still the coach of the GB Bulldogs and had been in the role for 6 years. I have taken this squad to 3 International Tournaments – 2010 Europeans Championship (4th) held in Denmark and Sweden, 2011 International Cup (7th out of 18 countries) in Sydney and Melbourne and more recently 2013 Europeans Championships held in Dublin, where we unfortunately finished 2nd to Ireland by a point in the final with the last kick of the game. In a nice touch, I was awarded and selected the coach of this tournament and was named coach of the European All Star Team. I’m currently preparing a new batch of GB squad members to tackle the 2014 International Cup which is being held in Melbourne this August. UQ players Neill “Biscuit” Cooke and Olly Smith have also been named as part of this team. I’m also helping out as an Assistant Coach at BBC with the 1st XVIII.

2. What attracted you to get involved with the club?

After I returned from the UK in September last year, I was attending my Level Two AFL coaching course just before Christmas at Metricon Stadium down on the Gold Coast, when I bumped into Chris Burgess (a former Putney Magpies player I coach in London) who was also at the course. Burgo invited me down to help out at the club with some coaching during the pre season and things progressed from there.

3. What has impressed you the most about being involved in the Red Lions in 2014?

The club culture. Its very unique whereby every player is treated as an equal from the QAFL to the 5ths. Its doesn’t matter how good you are as a player, there is always a game for you at the club and everyone is accepted with open arms. This is something very hard to find at a club these days.

I’ve also been impressed with the way the players have wanted to learn and progress at not only footballers but as people. The friendships made and networking associated with the club is something everyone should be very proud of.

4. How do you see the club improving and establishing itself in the State League?

Gradually. Its not going to be a quick fix but if we can build from the ground up as well as attracting some high quality recruits in the future then I think we will be very competitive next season and beyond. Being the biggest club in Queensland with around 10 teams helps establish this even further. The current players at the club always remained positive and focused, but winning does become a habit. The QAFL team have had short lapses in concentration and intensity which have really hurt us. Consistency is the key to our success at the moment but with such a high turn over of young inexperienced players this can always be an issue especially when playing footy at this level. I can only predict a full 4 quarter effort is just around the corner! Ed: Prophetic timing here as Mark wrote this the day before our first QAFL Senior victory!

5. Which players in our Colts squad have impressed you so far this season and look set to have a big impact on the QAFL in the coming years?

Brenton Crilly and myself have been working very hard at installing important values and beliefs within the colts playing group. Certain structures and expectations have been introduced to set the platform for all squad members in preparation for senior footy. The bar has been raised quite high and there are no reasons why this core group of young men can’t all be 5 – 10 year players for the club.

I don’t like to pick out names but Josh Gale has been a stand out so far this season through his leadership, communication and voice. Jono Macanawei’s contested ball winning ability has been fantastic as well as Joel Malbon who has displayed excellent composure with the ball in hand. Others to exhibit particular potential include ruckman Mike Cavaye, on ballers Henry Watson and Henry Mundie as well as the versatile James Cowlishaw. Jak Bubb’s attack on the ball has been tremendous in recent weeks while Carl Foster has been solid for us whether is been down back and up forward.

There are a lot of exciting times ahead!

The University of Queensland Australian Football Club (est 1956) is one of the largest sporting clubs based on the UQ campus. Recognised by AFL athletes as the preferred club at which to develop their professional and sporting careers, the UQAFC is a professional organisation based on amateur values where the UQ AFL community can enjoy competitive success, personal and professional development and life enriching social experiences in a safe, engaging and respectful environment. The club offers UQ Sports Achievement Scholarships specifically for AFL athletes studying and playing at the University of Queensland. With teams in the QAFL, QAFA and QWAFL, the UQAFC plays matches throughout south east Queensland each season. If you would like to contact the UQAFC about our media releases please contact our Media Manager, to enquire about sponsorship opportunities please contact our Sponsorship manager, or to find out more about playing with the club please click here.