Under 11s

 

If you had told me at the start of the year that these boys would be playing off for a spot in the Grand Final I would have been surprised. Not that I didn’t think they weren’t capable of amazing football. Of course I knew that. But to get within a game of the last dance in Division 2 would be an outstanding achievement. That is of course exactly what these guys did. To make it to the final game would require them to beat the team that is clearly the best in the competition. To compound the challenge facing them, the best team in the competition were looking to rebound from their only loss of the season from the week before. Presumably by now you all know that the Preliminary Final did not go our way and our season came to an end on Sunday. Rather than go over that morning in fine detail, I thought it much better to reflect on the players that make up this outstanding Under 11 side and the season that they have had. To say that I am immensely proud of their efforts this season would be an understatement. Every week of this season they would go to work against teams that were taller, stronger, almost always extremely capable and occasionally (unfortunately) overtly physical and downright nasty. Despite all this they continued to play the game with an attacking mindset.  Capable of the most beautiful football I have seen in juniors and always within the rules, regardless of what their opponents threw at them. Their style of play and the spirit in which they play the game is something they should be proud and seen them earn the respect of all those whom they played. The feedback I have received from opposing teams has been amazing and a true reflection of the way they have conducted themselves and the way that they play the game. This is my third season with these boys and they never cease to amaze me with their skill, spirit and most importantly, enjoyment of the game. I can’t begin to explain just how proud of them and their effort I am and thank them for making football so much fun within our team. As Bec would say, “You guys Rock!” I give you the 2017 West Footscray Under 11s.

 

#1 Zach.  You have been a revelation this year. Always dependable regardless of which end I put you at. I always know that you will give everything you have when you take the field. I can’t believe you didn’t snag a goal this season!  Your tackling has always been amazing (and a little frightening!), but this season your game sense has improved incredibly and you have really picked up some pace. Your game against Hoppers Crossing in Round 2 was amazing. Great season Zach. Really good job.

#2 Jack. 39 goals in any season as a junior is amazing. To score them while playing 99% of the time in the midfield is nothing short of remarkable. Your attack on the ball is incredible, your goal sense uncanny, your need for a haircut obvious! I had pretty high expectations for you this year and you went well beyond them.  5 goals in a quarter against Manor Lakes was phenomenal. 3rd in the league goal kicking and a top five finish in the league B&F. Jack Gerardi, take a bow. Brilliant.

#3 Samuel. Your best season yet Samuel. Your ability to play anywhere on the ground was a great asset to the team. I gave you jobs in the middle, the wing and down back and you never let me or your team down. Your finals series was outstanding but not unexpected. Your attack on the ball and desire to win it never faltered. You were amazing down back in the finals and played a massive part in the team getting as far as it did. Well done mate. A truly fantastic effort.

#4 Aaron. I gave you a fairly daunting job at Full Back and you did a magnificent job. I was genuinely impressed with the way you approached your role and the maturity you displayed throughout the season. Your goal saving efforts each week were reflected in your constantly dirty knees. Full Back is a tough gig and you should be proud of the way you handled it this season. Well done Aaron.

#5 Murphy. It can be a tough job being the coach’s son. I’ll admit to having pulled you to the pine much quicker than others. You were the first of this group to reach the 50 game mark. 10 goals for the year as a half forward was a great result. Your pace around the forward half was fantastic. Your kicking improved big time this season. Great work Murphy.

#6 Xavier. How good were you this year! Your improvement was off the charts. Your willingness to tackle opponents that were twice your size was always team lifting. Your match saving tackle against Altona was a season highlight for me. Your delightful selling of candy against Spotswood not far behind. Every time you took the field you gave 100%. I can’t ask for more than that. Well Done Xavier. A fantastic season due to hard work and effort.

#7 Cooper. How could a coach not love a player like you! Your season was amazing. You were the general at half back and a powerhouse in the middle. You also reached the 50 game mark this year. 3 goals for the year is a fantastic result considering the amount of time you spent back. The highlight for me was your leadership out on the ground. You organised players, encouraged and motivated your team mates and never took a backward step. Simply outstanding Coops.

#8 Angus. I’ll admit to never being quite sure as to wear you should play. I know now! Your move into the ruck against Spotswood was one of my favourite parts of the season. The way you played that day and every game after was simply amazing. Your ruckwork and follow up when the ball hit the ground were incredible and made our side so much better. Well done Angus. I look forward to next season to see just how good you can get! That’s exciting I think.

#9 Kadin. A move to the wing saw you play some of the best football of the year. The way you run, read the play and use the space available is amazing. You dance through packs like they aren’t there and bring your team mates into the game. 6 goals for the season was a great return. Your final against Sanctuary Lakes was so good I can’t describe it! Congrats on a fantastic season Kadin. Bonus points as well for being the first in the team to follow me on Instagram!

#10 Sean. His third season as a Rooster and easily his best. Sean has always had very nice skills but this season has produced those far more often as his confidence grew.  His game against Altona was fantastic late in the season. To produce good football against a very good team is a feather in his cap. His finals series saw him bring a more competitive edge to his game as his dirty knees would attest at the end of each game. 3 goals for this season was a nice return and a tally I’m sure he will build on next year. Great work Sean.

#11 Nathaniel. Great year for a young man that has never played before. Nathaniel was given the task of being our full forward. His work from the goal square was fantastic. His strength is better than most and he put it to use whenever he was given the chance. This combined with his stature constantly troubled defenders. He finished the season with 3 goals. His hard work and team play down forward created many more for the team. His skills improved dramatically as the season progressed and his efforts this year should certainly be a source of great pride. Well done.

#12 Leroy. Nugget brings a lot to his team. It’s hard not to like this kid. There is nothing he likes more than tackling. This is pretty handy as he is one of the best at it I have seen at this age. He never takes a backward step when the ball is there to be won, regardless of how many he needs to beat or their size.  His season was spent mainly down back with the odd cameo through the middle. The better the opponent, the better he played. Another of our 50 game brigade, Leroy’s season was fantastic. Top shelf again Nugget!

#13 Frank. There isn’t a team anywhere that wouldn’t want a Frank in its side. Every time he takes the field he gives it everything he has. Frank spent the majority of his season down back. This is his second year at the Roosters and his improvement was unbelievable. His leadership on the ground was fantastic and his voice at training and in the huddle was constant. His performance in the Preliminary Final was nothing short of sensational. Due to his time down back Frank only managed the one goal this year. His presence on the field contributed too many more and was a serious impediment to our opposition getting some as well. Absolutely brilliant Frankie!

#14 Yash. A fantastic season this year from Yash. He played the first few games on the wing before being changed to the ruck. Once this happened, Yash took his game to a whole new level. He was brilliant. Despite regularly giving away height to his opponents, he won more than his share of hit outs. Better still, once it hit the ground he would hunt the ball relentlessly. His drive from the midfield was amazing.  His attack on the ball and will to win it just brilliant. His goal tally finished at 3 but I can assure you he was responsible for countless more. His final against Flemington was absolutely amazing. Yash, you’re a gun!

#15 Mickey. Now in his second season, Mickey has become a vital cog in this team. From the Flemington game midseason until the end he was absolutely phenomenal. Playing at centre half forward he became the focal point for a lot of our attacks. He rarely drops it, kicks beautifully and always does the team thing. As the season progressed it became a common sight to see Mickey laying tackles, scrapping for the ball and winning it for the team. His tally of 2 goals this season fails to reflect his importance to the team. His preliminary final performance was remarkable and showcased just how hard he works on the field regardless of the score. Outstanding year Mickey.

#16 Felix. This fine young footballer spent the first half of the year on the wing and half forward. Midway through the season he was put in to the middle. WOW! Why didn’t I do that earlier? To say the rest of the season for Felix was incredible would be an understatement. Very few children at his age have the drive to get the ball like he does. He shone brightest against the better teams and never once looked like tiring. 2 goals this season was offset by the amount he assisted in getting for our team. His finals series was beyond belief. Congratulations on a remarkable year Felix.

#17 Vinh. Now in his third season, Vinh has proven to be one of our most important ingredients. His strength around packs is astounding, his skills are fantastic and decision making exceptional. He never gets flustered and goes about his business with a minimum of fuss. Once he wins the ball he seems to have all the time in the world to make the right decision. We lost Vinh for many weeks with a fractured finger and he was dearly missed. Another of our best performers in finals and the reason my biscuit bill goes through the roof at my house every football season! Fantastic again Vinh as expected.

#18 Elijah Moon. I swear this kid was back down at Shorten Reserve practicing within hours of our season ending! He was a constant there all summer as well. All that practice has to pay off and it did in a big way this year for E-M. His movement and goal sense in our attacking half was fantastic. His second half of the year saw his confidence really grow and this showed in his game. He is a bit of a dead eye around the sticks and his tally of 8 goals was a great return for him. Well done E-M! What a great year you had for your team.

#19 Aleks. What a year for this guy! Given the crucial role at centre half back, Aleks was a star! He marks anything that comes near him. Tackles like a machine and as the season progressed really honed his ability to dance through packs before driving it forward. He’s never flustered, rarely beaten and always smiling! His game in the Preliminary Final when required to ruck was outstanding. He even managed to snag a goal this year. His growing confidence and maturity were brilliant. Always a pleasure to have around and an absolute must to have in your team. Cracking season Aleks!

#22 Tito. Playing his first season of football, Tito learned a lot his year. One of these was how to avoid the warm up at training! Tito started forward, went back and then ended up forward again. He is a very good mark and was unlucky to not score a goal this year. As the season progressed I watched him gain confidence. I’m certain that the first goal was just around the corner. I look forward excitedly to see his continued improvement next season. Well done Tito.

#23 Christian. Another of our first year players. It would be fair to say that Christian landed on his feet the minute he arrived at the Roosters. He began as a half forward but it became apparent very early that he was a wingman. We already had quite a few of those but he had a headband and flouro boots! That makes him our number one wingman! After a cautious start Cristian really began to feel at home. He has silky skills, runs like the wind and can hit the scoreboard. These are pretty handy attributes. He finished the year with 6 goals and played many outstanding games. Awesome first season Christian.

#24 Sasmitha. Yet another first year player. Sas delayed his debut for a few weeks to ensure he was ready. He played his first game against St. Albans and was introduced off the bench. I can still see the look on his face as he ran on and the ball was sitting there waiting for him! How easy is this! A season played deep forward saw this guy come so close to scoring a goal it wasn’t funny. As his confidence grew I played him on the flank where he could use his greatest asset. His pace. Sas is quick, seriously quick.  His kicking is pretty useful as well. I really look forward to seeing what this guy can produce in 2018. Great first year mate.

#25 Weston. What a year! We are blessed with midfielders at the Roosters.  This guy compliments beautifully our attacking ones. Arguably the best reader of the play in our team, he always knows where the ball is going and is usually there waiting for it. His decision making is brilliant and his skills by hand and foot exceptional. He rarely misses a target and the number of goals he set up was extraordinary. He also managed to snag 9 himself. His sealer against Sanctuary Lakes in the semi-final was a season highlight. His will to win the ball was outstanding and his on field leadership was brilliant. This didn’t escape the umpires’ eye and has seen him finish in the top 5 for the league best and fairest. An absolutely amazing season Weston. Congratulations!

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort from these boys this season. They’re a joy to watch, a pleasure to coach and seriously fun to be around.

Awesome kids usually come from amazing parents. This group is no exception. I thank all of you for your help and support this season. Bec, you’re a great team manager. Andrew and Chris, I couldn’t do it without you. Derek and Brendon, you’re amazing. Man we went through some ice packs this year! Sri and Fran, when I read the time on stuff for finals I was glad I wasn’t doing it! Thank you for all your volunteering this year. Omar, Trent, Dan, Chris, Paul, Vanessa……………I am so grateful to have so many parents willing to help out. I know I have missed a few of you and I apologise. Both I and the boys are so lucky to have so many committed and caring parents involved. It makes my job so much easier and this team to be one of the best things I have done.

 

Thank you all.

 

Go Roosters

 

Damian