Mitch Cleeland to lead the way for Waaia in 2023

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On board: Mitch Cleeland will coach Waaia’s senior football side in 2023. Photo by Megan Fisher

Waaia has wasted no time locking in its 2023 senior football coach, with club stalwart Mitch Cleeland formally taking the helm.

Co-coaching alongside Mark Meyland for the 2022 campaign, Cleeland will take full control come season’s end, with Meyland making the decision to step back from his duties next year.

A legend of the club, Meyland played 250 senior games for the Bombers and said the change was a natural progression.

“This is my third year now and Mitch came in obviously so it was just a bit of a chance to work together, I’ve got a bit busier with what I’m doing so it was nice to have a bit of a hand,” Meyland said.

“He’s pretty well-respected, the way he goes about it he just does what he preaches.”

The partnership between Meyland and Cleeland this season has been a successful one, with the Bombers losing just one game so far in the Picola and District Football League season and Cleeland said the 2022 finals series remained the focus for now.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve just been figuring out how we’re going to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together and we’ve finally got it out there,” Cleeland said.

“It’s good to know where we stand and sort of start the process for next year as early as we can, obviously with an eye for this year still."

Cleeland said it was a “privilege” to coach at the club he grew up supporting.

“It’s just a matter of ensuring the on-field success is going as well as the club is off the field, which is going great at the moment,” he said.

Unfinished business: Outgoing Waaia coach Mark Meyland and the Bombers still have plenty left to play for in 2022. Photo by Daniel Webb

Waaia president Matthew Brown said the transition had been in place for some time, with Cleeland exceeding expectations so far.

“Obviously the plan is going forward to have a strong finals series and finish off with the ultimate prize,” Brown said.

“And then going from there into next year and continuing our junior development and maintaining the playing list.”

Brown thanked Meyland for his work at the club, praising the Bombers mentor for his work throughout the COVID-19-impacted seasons.