Lockington-Bamawm United’s new assistant coach Bart Phillips has defended his decision to move from Echuca and said it was a step forward in his coaching career.
A busy start to the off-season has seen the Cats lure five important talents to the Heathcote and District Football League club, including a number of locals.
Phillips headlines the impressive list but just as important are Lachie Collins and Jarod Bacon from Moama and Rochester respectively.
The pair are LBU juniors and are only valued at one point on the player points cap system.
They kicked a combined 67 for their clubs in 2017 and bring much-needed experience and class to the LBU forward line.
Phillips’ brother Tyler has also made the move from Echuca, after having established himself in the senior side before injury late in the season.
Fringe Rochester senior Jeremy Mundie has joined them as well.
Phillips was thrilled to step up and try his hand coaching with seniors.
‘‘It’s exciting to head to a club and try and develop some coaching with someone who’s had quite a bit of success coaching, with Ollie (LBU coach Kahl Oliver) obviously winning the four flags with LBU,’’ Phillips said.
‘‘It’s an area I’ve got a familiarity with growing up just down the road at Bamawm Extension, so I’ve been around the club since I was a little kid.’’
Returning coach Oliver was pleased with his early returns on the recruiting front.
‘‘We’ve done pretty well,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re five footballers that have all had experience in major leagues, and are all fairly young blokes.
‘‘We were aiming to get local, young talent back to LBU.
‘‘It means they can train two nights a week and these guys are going to be able to do that.
‘‘With the fact most of these guys are one-pointers because they’re local blokes, it really helps with recruiting. If we need to top-up with a couple of four-pointers, we’re in the position to do that.’’
Oliver had heard good things about Phillips and was excited to have him as an assistant coach for the new campaign.
‘‘He’s been involved with coaching the thirds at Echuca and all reports from that are all really positive,’’ Oliver said.
‘‘And he leads by example as a senior footballer.
‘‘We had some talks with him and they were all really positive.
‘‘He’s a bloke in his mid-20s keen to give it a crack as an assistant coach.’’
Phillips said his experience with Echuca’s under-18s fed his drive to move up the coaching ranks.
‘‘Initially I didn’t think I’d want anything to do with (coaching), and just sort of rock up and play footy,’’ he said.
‘‘But once Paul Clarke and Rory Priddle got me involved with the under-18s a couple of years ago and Flip Evans got me involved with some under-14s stuff that changed.
‘‘I think it ties in really well with my work as a teacher, rather than just instructing the kids, trying to teach them about footy, and now the opportunity has come up to expand that role to a senior capacity.’’
The young LBU side made strides in the back half of 2017 under Peter Gibbs, taking the challenge up to many more experienced sides.
But Phillips was not quite sure what to expect with the injection of talent for 2018.
‘‘It’s always going to be hard because there’s a lot of player movement at the other clubs,’’ he said.
‘‘Peter Gibbs has done a good job to build a base, and it’s just trying to improve on that base.
‘‘Hopefully we can bring in those six or seven players on top of a good base that’s just out of finals and start to bridge the gap to those top teams.’’