Picola District Football League junior coach of the year Alex Hay will make a major step up in the coaching ranks for the Deniliquin Rovers next year.
Hay, 25, was announced as the club’s senior coach at their presentation night at Memorial Park on Friday last week.
He takes over the role from non-playing coach Josh Bode, who has led the Roos for the past two seasons, including a preliminary final appearance this year.
It is a coming of age moment for Hay, who after playing fourths and thirds footy for the Rovers, made his return to his junior club last year, playing seniors while coaching the thirds side.
The newly appointed playing coach said coaching the seniors was something he could not have dreamed of when playing his junior footy.
‘‘I love the club, so to be picked to coach the senior side is quite humbling,’’ he said.
‘‘(Rovers president) Wally Bulmer said he believes that I’m the first clubman to have gone through the junior ranks and then go on to coach the seniors, which is something that surprised me.
‘‘Taking over (the position) has been in the works for about two to three months now.
‘‘It was spoken about throughout the year but never went further than that.
‘‘My initial plan was to head elsewhere in another league, play at a higher level and learn more before I came back.
‘‘As the season went on and we improved, my mind started to change though.
‘‘After the prelim loss (against Waaia), I started to lean towards coaching the seniors.’’
Hay has built a strong reputation as a coach, helping steer the Roos thirds to a preliminary final this year, despite having 13 bottom-age players and only four top-agers.
‘‘From my point of view, it’s not a great time to leave the thirds,’’ he said.
‘‘After the last couple of years of building up the side, they look like they’re primed and ready for success.
‘‘I’ll still stay involved with the thirds boys and help out where I can.’’
The new Roos coach also said almost all of his list had re-committed to play in the blue and the white guernsey again next year.
‘‘We have a lot of the playing group sticking around and there is belief among everyone that we can build to something special,’’ he said.
‘‘The side we have is close to being a top side. It will take some extremely hard work to compete with the top end though.
‘‘My main aim is to have 30 blokes at training every Tuesday and Thursday night, regardless of whether they travel or live locally.
‘‘To have everyone at training twice a week is crucial to being a successful team and is part of the hard work that is required to compete.
‘‘Josh (Bode) had me helping out with training and coaching during the year and has helped put us in this position so I would like to thank him for his efforts.’’