AFL sports scientist Dr David Buttifant holds three degrees from Victoria University (VU). He is a passionate supporter of today's youth.

Humble about his achievements, he believes that patience, support and perseverance are the winning ingredients, and that “the losses are as equally defining”.


Qualifications: Master of Business Administration 2009, Doctor of Philosophy 1997, Graduate Diploma in Exercise & Sport Sciences 1992.

Job: High Performance Manager, Carlton Football Club. Previously: Sports Science Director, Collingwood Football Club.

As a young boy, David was heavily involved in sport. Helping out his dad from the age of six, he always had football in his life. He is now helping AFL players succeed. 

Early career and VU support

“In team sport there’s an element of connectedness”. As a physical education (P.E.) teacher in Broadmeadows with an interest in sports psychology, he studied a Graduate Diploma of Sport Science at VU, but really enjoyed the area of physiology.

“I was going to continue to do my masters but my lecturer Professor John Carlson encouraged me to do a PhD. John gave me the push I needed.”

David previously worked as a fitness advisor at North Melbourne Football Club. After four years at North Melbourne he had an opportunity to work with Australian Olympic athletes to prepare them for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Following his Olympic position, he took up the role as Head of Conditioning at Collingwood. In September 2013, David began the transition from working for Collingwood to his new role as High Performance Manager at Carlton Football Club.

Altitude training program

David introduced the altitude training program to the Collingwood team.

He had previously worked on the program in Arizona with Australian swimmers, who had a great medal result in the pool at the Sydney Olympics.

No other AFL teams were using altitude training when he introduced it in late 2005, and the following season Collingwood made the finals and have made the finals many times since.

MBA studies at Victoria University

While at Collingwood F.C., David completed his MBA at VU. He credits the learning environment at VU for keeping him coming back.

“Lecturers backed me and had the belief in me.”

But it’s not just lecturers that believe in David. His role at Collingwood is so integral that Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan calls him their 23rd man and "regards him as one of the best, if not the top guy in the sports science field.”

The N.I.C.K. Foundation

David is passionate about developing and supporting young people.

He established the N.I.C.K. Foundation in honour of his son, who took his own life. The N.I.C.K. Foundation runs mentoring programs, leadership workshops and motivational talks for young adults and their parents. The aim is to build self-esteem and understanding in young people and give them hope for the future.

His advice to current students and recent graduates at VU:

“If you’ve got a passion, follow it. Believe in yourself and identify mentors. Identify what gets your juices going. Have the right people around you, and the support structure.”