Lions' gift to Suns years in the making
THE Gold Coast Suns have more reasons than one to thank the Brisbane Lions for their inaugural AFLW coach.
David Lake was appointed senior coach of the Suns' AFLW side in March after three seasons in Brisbane as AFLW midfield coach, where he helped the Lions to back-to-back grand final appearances in his first two years.
Before his stint in women's football, Lake had already established a well-credentialled coaching career in the QAFL with Mt Gravatt and Morningside, as well as representative stints with Queensland and the Papua New Guinea International Cup team.
But if not for Lions AFLW boss Craig Starcevich, Lake may have never transitioned to women's football.
He believes Starcevich "re-lit” the coaching fire inside him.
"We're great mates. We've been mates for a long time and I'm really thankful (for that),” Lake said.
"He (Starcevich) was the one when I thought I was finished with coaching, that got me involved in the women's academy, pre-Lions. He re-lit my flame.”
Lake said he learned a great deal in working alongside Starcevich during his three years at the Lions.
"Part of me wanting to do it was getting to hang around him,” he said.
"His knowledge from an elite football level is second-to-none; I got to be around that and the environment he created was great.”
Lake said there were plenty of similarities between him and his now-rival AFLW coach, chiefly a shared love for fierce competition.
But that competitive edge did not stop Starcevich congratulating Lake when the news of his Suns appointment came through.
"He was the first one to say good luck,” Lake said.
Lake and Starcevich will meet for the first time as rival coaches in Game 1 of the best-of-three QW Winter Series, at Metricon Stadium on May 25.
Mackay will host the second match on June 23.
It will also be the first time former Lions players, Leah Kaslar, Sam Virgo, Jacqui Yorston, Paige Parker, Tori Groves-Little, Lauren Bella and Emma Pittman come up against their old side.
The Lions were quite public with their frustrations surrounding the mass exodus from the club in the off-season, and the Suns were the key destination.
The two Queensland clubs already share a rivalry based on geography. Lake said the format of the AFL Women's Draft only added to that.
"I think ... the draft made sure there would be a rivalry,” he said.
"There's a period of angst because you lost players.
"In such a small footy state ... a lot of the girls and staff are friends. I think it will be a healthy rivalry that all the girls will look forward to.”