Kyabram Free Press

Merrigum sticks with its leaders

- By Gus Underwood

Merrigum Football Netball Club is sticking with this season’s leaders to guide the club’s football and netball sides again in season 2022.

This season’s Kyabram District League Coach of the Year Steve Lawlor will again be in charge of the senior football side while Olivia Jackson will be in charge of the club’s A-grade netballers again.

Lawlor will be in charge for a fifth year after being promoted to the top job in 2018 after leading the Bulldogs reserves to the 2017 premiershi­p.

In 2018 Lawlor lifted Merrigum to seventh place, only missing the top six and finals on percentage. It was a similar scenario in 2019 with the Bulldogs again missing a finals berth only on percentage.

Merrigum had been in the finals mix again this season, before it was cancelled.

Merrigum’s football operations manager Aaron Moor said many of Merrigum’s players had committed to playing with the club next year and talks were continuing with other prospectiv­e recruits.

Merrigum is currently seeking coaches for its reserves and thirds football sides. This season’s reserves coach John Mathieson and under-18 coach Shane Mclennan are stepping down.

Moor said his club was grateful for the input of both Mathieson and Mclennan in another trying season.

Anyone interested in the reserves and under-18 coaching positions at Merrigum can contact Aaron on 0408 097 017.

The club is also looking for a junior developmen­t officer which could even tie in with the role of under-18 coach.

Jackson led Merrigum to what would have been an A-grade finals berth this season with the team finishing the year strongly with comprehens­ive wins and close finishes against the top sides when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season.

However the club understand­s the health and wellbeing of its club members and the wider community came first.

Jackson was able to call on her Victorian Netball League experience and the club was very happy with what she achieved in her first year of coaching the club.

She didn’t play much in 2021 due to injury; however, with some serious rehab under way she can become a more permanent on-court fixture in 2022.

Jackson is currently recruiting and hopes to have some announceme­nts in the coming weeks on additions to the A-grade team for 2022.

There was a wealth of talent in this season’s team with captain Kate Sloan finishing third in the count for this season’s Warren Medal.

Sloan’s on-court leadership was second to none and her role was integral to the success the team enjoyed.

Georgia Braybon, Millie Lowe and Siarn Pedretti were big inclusions in this year’s side with Pedretti’s control of the mid-court with her experience making a huge difference to the attacking end.

Braybon has moved to the Gold Coast so won’t be with the club in 2022, however there is excitement at what the partnershi­p of Lowe and Pedretti can achieve in 2022.

Local youngsters Allana Adams, Breanna Baker and Maddy Wilson all had stellar seasons. Adams found a new position in wing defence and didn’t disappoint with impeccable timing on the defensive line. With

Kate Sloan they made a fantastic defensive duo on the transverse line.

Breanna Baker, the league’s 2019 Rising Star was outstandin­g in goal-keeper until injury cut her season short.

Experience, toughness and leadership is what you get with Louise Richards. Richards was in the 2021 team but her injury meant that Baker was a permanent fixture in the goal-keeper position.

However Baker showed her versatilit­y by also having a crack at centre which she took in her stride and was outstandin­g in this foreign position.

Wilson grew as a player and was running the centre like a seasoned A-grader by season’s end. Her natural talent is amazing and the club is looking forward to what its younger players after a season or two in A-grade can now bring to the 2022 line-up.

The club will be recruiting for B, C, C Reserve, under-17, under-15, under-13 and under-11 coaches for next season.

Those interested can apply for these coaching positions via email by contacting Netball Operations Manager Kathie Dawson at merrigumne­ by Sunday, October 31.

 ?? ?? Going again:
Steve Lawlor and Olivia Jackson will coach Merrigum’s senior football and A-grade netball outfits.
Going again: Steve Lawlor and Olivia Jackson will coach Merrigum’s senior football and A-grade netball outfits.

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