Eye to the future
INCOMING Banyule coach Pete Davey insists his club will build from within as it aims to climb the Division 3 ladder.
The Bears entered the Northern Football League with high expectations in 2015, but have won just 13 matches in their first two years since crossing from the VAFA.
The 2016 season yielded just six wins, each of which came against bottom-two sides Heidelberg West and Kilmore. Luck also eluded the Bears, who lost five games by eight-points or less.
Davey, who coached Canberra side Woden to a premiership in 2015, has now been tasked with taking the club into a new era of success.
The Bears have already set about addressing their forward line issues, submitting a transfer for 2015 Division 1 leading goal kicker James Kroussoratis.
The 23-year-old spent this year with Shepparton Swans in the Goulburn Valley Football League, where he booted 42 goals in 18 matches.
He previously kicked 149 goals in 51 matches for Eltham, including 67 goals last year as he steered the Panthers to the preliminary final.
Kroussoratis looks set to team up with Scott Gumbleton inside Banyule’s forward 50, with the former AFL big man set to return for the Bears after being sidelined this year as a result of Essendon’s supplements program.
Despite the addition of the two key forwards and the return of Adam Barclay from a long-term elbow injury, Davey said he would look to provide opportunities for the club’s young players to push the club forward.
“(Kroussoratis) is a massive statement for us about where we are going that we can actually get these kind of players. They can see that there is a bit of future and they want to be part of it, which is really pleasing,” Davey said.
“There are going to be one or two players that are name players that outsiders will know of that are coming into the club.
“(But) my aim is to really build the club from within. The 19s have been good for a number of years now and there is obviously a lot of talent coming through there.
“I want to nurture the guys coming through and make sure that they’re hopefully career Banyule players.”
Banyule’s under-19s have played off in the grand final in each of the past two years, with Ben Nethercote and Lewis Balcombe finishing inside the top three of the league best and fairest count this season.
Most players from the under-19s program have already had a taste of senior football, with the Bears using 56 players through their senior side this year – twelve more than any other Division 3 club.
Davey said he spoke in detail to a number of the club’s under-19 players at the recent meet the coach afternoon and was impressed with the attitude of the club’s next generation.
“I spent a bit of time with about half a dozen (under-19) guys that had played senior footy last year,” he said.
“They brought up that ‘we’re under-19 players but we want to play seniors’. That’s the culture I want to have around the place. They’ve had a taste of senior footy and they want to go back for more.
“I’ve told the guys that I don’t care what your name is as long as you can play your role in the side.
“There are 22 roles in the side and if you can come in and put your head down then you will get as many opportunities as the seasoned senior players.”
Having added to its forward line firepower, Davey said the Bears would spend the pre-season addressing their contested ball deficiencies.
“The guys have highlighted that (the NFL) is a bit more physical than amateur footy and that is something we will work on, with attack on the footy and tackling,” Davey said.
“The plan is to be known as one of the tougher sides in Division 3 in hopefully a short period of time.”
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