THE Hamilton Kangaroos have finalised their coaching arrangements for the 2021 Hampden Football Netball League (HFNL) season.
The club has opted for continuity and stability, re-signing Luke Uebergang as Under-18.5 coach, while Adrian ‘Buddy’ Linke will take the reins of the reserves team next year.
The pair will be joined by senior coach, Gerard FitzGerald, who re-signed with the club last month with the trio going into the 2020 season as first year coaches.
Uebergang was the sole mentor to get the full experience during the season, coaching two games before the junior season was eventually cancelled due to coronavirus.
Kangaroos vice-chairman, Lachy Patterson said it was exciting for the club to lock the trio into roles.
“The fact they have re-committed, we think it is really positive for the club,” he said.
“We were adamant we had the right people in place and were keen to get them locked in, the fact they agreed to do that so soon is a feather in our cap.”
With the club still yet to play finals since joining the HFNL in 2013, there is hope that further recruitment of players along with the commitment of FitzGerald could see them in premiership contention soon.
Patterson said having the leaders locked in so early can only be a positive sign for the future.
“While it has been really disappointing that we haven’t been able to get out on the field and play a whole lot of football this season, we are really pleased to have our senior leaders locked in for next season, because it gives us a great opportunity to continue planning for improvement across the board,” he said.
“Also for our players to have some stability in that leadership, I think it is something that is really important for our club, as we continue to try and improve on and off the field.
“There is no doubt the three people we have signed up are all quality people and I think they have got great respect from our playing list … we are extremely happy to have them on board.
“It is also really important from a recruiting perspective that you can tell them exactly who the leaders are and when you have leaders with the capability of the ones we have been able to sign, we think it is a huge boost for the club and we will look to build on that.”
Linke goes into his second campaign as reserves coach and said he is looking forward to getting together with the group again and hopefully getting a full season of games in 2021.
“I didn’t fire a shot this year, it will be my second year, but my first year in a sense,” he said.
“It is disappointing we didn’t get a go this year but looking forward to next year.
“It is a good position going forward, everyone has recommitted, and it shows the club is in a good position.”
With a return date for pre-season set to be decided by coronavirus restrictions, Linke will just maintain contact with his squad via phone and social media in the hope of getting some sessions in before Christmas.
“I will just clear the mind a little bit now and keep in touch with everyone,” he said.
“We can’t do much with the unknown around the virus and what is going to happen, so I’ll just put a few phone calls out there and touch base.”
While many would have enjoyed the year off football, Linke hopes everyone will return in what is shaping up as an exciting 2021 season.
“It is definitely going to be a factor, but it might work the other way as well; some guys might have missed the club and the social things it offers,” he said.
“I think it is going to be a little bit unknown with all that as well.”
Uebergang was the only coach of the trio to be able to put his ability to the test with games against Warrnambool and North Warrnambool Eagles before the junior season was officially cancelled.
It was just enough to tease the first-year coach with Uebergang excited about taking the reins for another campaign.
“It was just a bit to whet the appetite, the boys were great and I can’t wait to get stuck into it again next year,” he said.
“I only got two games in this year, so just getting out there and having another crack at it (is what excites me most).
“I know we have got some really promising young kids coming up and to blend them in with the ones who will stick around will be great.”
With another year to learn under the guidance of Linke and FitzGerald, Uebergang’s approach to coaching is based on players taking on bigger roles.
He said the bigger investment usually contributed to better results.
“I put a lot of responsibility back on the players, I thought their input was helping me as well and that also helps them learn and develop as players,” he said.
“I think they absorb more information when they do talk about options and how we want to play.
“Obviously we have a game plan we want to follow right from the top with seniors and work our way through, so I will definitely look to coach to that, but also need the cattle on the park.”
Losing a large portion of his squad for the 2021 season won’t phase Uebergang though, as he looks to adapt quickly and build new relationships.
“Part of the challenge of coaching Under-18.5 is you’re always going to have a revolving squad, so the onus is on me to get to know them and develop those relationships,” he said.
With the coaches locked in, the club can now turn its focus to other areas with the Kangaroos hopeful the 2021 season can go ahead uninterrupted.