Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Alex re-signs with Rovers
He debuted as a Deniliquin Rovers senior footballer in 2009 and has been coaching the senior side since 2019, so Alex Hay said choosing to retain a senior role in the club for 2022 was an easy decision.
The playing seniors coach says he is up for the challenge of leading the team again next season.
After gaining some experience with the Rovers in 2007, Hay went to boarding school in Kilmore before heading playing regional football.
That led to a few years at Benalla and Seymour to play in the Goulburn Valley League in some “pretty successful” teams, but a premiership title was ever elusive.
Hay credits his dad, Gavin, with imbuing a love of Aussie rules into him at a young age.
‘‘We’re both football nuffies and he is definitely to blame for that,’’ Hay said.
Other influences include Josh Bode, Scott Wynd and Michael Eagan who opened up opportunities and learning experience for Hay.
‘‘Thinking back, I’ve been extremely fortunate,’’ he said.
As for the 2021 season, Hay acknowledged it ‘‘hasn’t been without its challenges’’ for everyone involved.
As week-to-week lockdown restrictions postponed and cancelled games, Hay said flexibility was key.
COVID’s toll also knocked players’ consistency with training and fitness, resulting in an array of injuries which has affected almost every team in the Picola and District Football League.
‘‘It was always going to be a challenging year, but some of our junior talent is really exciting.
‘‘There would be a dozen who have debuted throughout the year, and then a number of younger guys who have had some more experience when they otherwise may not have will hold us in really good stead for next year and beyond.’’
He said a few tweaks to recruiting and investing in local talent will see a surge in Rovers wins in the year ahead.
‘‘Keeping local this year, whilst it has not been reflected in our win-loss record, has meant the group has remained consistent and that will see us going from strength to strength. The nucleus of a really strong team is there.’’
So, what makes a good coach to these up and coming players?
‘‘From my perspective, I think that you have to be a good communicator and treat every player on their merits,’’ Hay said.
‘‘I’ve come across some interesting characters in my relatively short career and managing the personalities can be difficult but if you’re able to connect with the individual then you’re half way there.’’
He added that coaching this year has encouraged him to analyse trends and how other coaches handle their teams to get the best results.
He hopes that approach will leave the club in good standing when he hands over the reins ‘‘one day’’.
‘‘Every team sets up their season to have a run at finals and beyond and that’s certainly where my focus is, but for us it will be about reinforcing what we have been working towards the last 18 months.
‘‘Ultimately your time in this sort of role is finite so personally just being able to create an environment, a position and leave the club in better shape than when you start; and we had some real success prior to my tenure so in that regard there is some work to do but I can’t wait to continue the challenge.’’