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Vinnie Del Bono - 30 years at the Crows!

Vinnie Del Bono - 30 years at the Crows!

SASMA recently spoke with Vinnie Del Bono is his 30 year milestone with the Crows, his journey to becoming an AFL Head Trainer, and what he hopes to see for the role of a Sports Trainer in to the future.

SASMA: Tell us how did you first get in to Sports Training, was this at community level?

VDB: I started as a sports trainer with the 1st 18 football team at St. Michaels College.  I Learnt a lot from an old trainer there who had been a sports trainer for many years. I enjoyed it then did my level 1 sports trainers’ course whilst at Norwood & from there joined Woodville West Torrens for a preseason & then was poached by the Crows.

SASMA: WHY did you want to get in to sports training?

VDB: I loved sport and played soccer at a high level and I went to school with a few guys who ended up playing AFL, they encouraged me to be a sports trainer. I wanted to give back to the athletes who were striving to be the best they could be. I enjoyed learning new ways of strapping and providing a professional service for the athlete, especially with safety in mind.

SASMA: What were some of the challenges in the early days?

VDB: The most challenging issues in the early days was getting paid for your services. That was the big issue as you would give up a full Saturday or Sunday plus 2 training sessions a week at SANFL level. Once you joined AFL level the pay was slightly better, but it’s now a full time job so pay is acceptable with work place agreements.

SASMA: What has been the greatest challenge throughout your sports trainer career?

VDB: The greatest challenges for me is finding good sports trainers and retaining them, which then goes back to paying staff appropriately.

SASMA: How did you get involved with the Crows?

VDB: I got involved with the Crows by doing my Level 1 Sports Trainers course whilst at Norwood where I  topped the Group. The educator was the involved at the Crows at the time and he approached me to come down and spend 2 weeks to see if I liked it and if I fitted in. That was 30 years ago and I am still here!

SASMA: What has been the more satisfying moments – greatest achievements? Why have you stayed around for 30 years?

VDB: The most satisfying achievements is the 1997 & 1998 premiership wins. It's also watching the 18year old players coming into the club, growing into men, husbands and dads. The transformation is amazing and watching them achieve their goals and become great AFL players. I love my job and love the high-performance environment. Also I’ve had the opportunity to work for the young Socceroo's as a sports trainer which was an amazing.

SASMA: How has the role of the sports trainer changed in the past 30 years?

VDB: The role of sports trainers has changed as it has become a professional career option at the elite level. Also being multi skilled in areas does complement the sports trainers role. I’ve had the opportunity to also be a sports trainer for the young Socceroo's for 3 years which was an amazing experience and I learnt a great deal.

SASMA: How do you think Sports Trainers will evolve from here?

VDB: Retaining that role at all levels and paying them appropriately, will assist in maintaining good sports trainer who love that involvement in sports and the competitiveness of winning and providing a professional service for the athlete.

SASMA: What should the future of sports trainers look like?

VDB: The vision I see is that all clubs will need to have either a full time sports trainer at the elite level and a part time trainer at the next level below for sustainability of trainers in the game and having multi skilled trainers as well.

SASMA: What can we/sports do now to better support trainers, especially at community level and in regional areas?

VDB: My number one vision is that it’s no longer a volunteer’s position at all levels. It must be a paid position and that way you will retain sports trainer as well as enticing new sports trainers to stay at clubs. Also the more education and interaction with the elite Sports Trainers at the top level will help community based sports trainers connect with the latest information and tips.

SASMA: What would you tell someone just beginning their sports trainer journey or thinking about getting started?

VDB: Learn from the older Head trainer at the club and learning from other medical professionals at the club to become the best Sports trainer at your club. Be patient, don’t rush and be a sponge to take it all in.

SASMA: Can you highlight the important role sports trainers play in community, semi-pro and professional leagues? – Crows midfielder Rory Laird comments on Vinnie’s importance: 

Laird: "In terms of the sports trainer role in the AFL, the sports trainer role is a crucial one. A lot of work behind the scenes is required to ensure the little things are organised and everything runs smoothly. Vinnie is always first at the club and the last to leave, super hard worker and a pleasure to deal with" 

SASMA: If you could say something to a younger Vinnie, what would it be?

VDB: Take it all in and learn from others and enjoy the roller coast ride, because you never know when it will end. Just be yourself.

SASMA: What are you looking forward to in to the future + how long do you want to stay involved?

VDB: To keep doing what am doing for another 30 year and educate new trainers that cross my path and try and make them the best possible sports trainer they can be. To keep on providing a professional service for athletes.

SASMA would like to thank Vinnie for his continued support of our organisation, sports trainer education and the important role he plays in being a mentor and sharing his knowledge across the sports trainer community. Best Wishes for the next 30 years! Danielle Grant-Cross - CEO  

Cover photo courtesy of the Adelaide Crows - Adelaide's Head Trainer reflects on 30 years of service (

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