New Orange City first grade coach Viv Paasi is under no illusion as to the challenge he faces taking the Lions’ reins in the Blowes Clothing Cup in 2019.
Paasi, who this week was unveiled as coach for next season, will be working alongside 2018 general Steve Hamson to overhaul the club’s structure after the first-grade side won just the one game this season and struggled with cohesion off the field.
However, Paasi said even after just four weeks back in Orange the Lions he knows and loves is still there.
“It’s a very family orientated club, and it’s like a family to me. Walking in there are always so many familiar faces,” he said.
“No matter when you ran or what you do when you come back it’s like you never left, so that’s comforting.”
Paasi played all his junior footy and his first year of seniors at City before moving to Sydney, and more than 15 years on from when Paasi last lived in Orange the 34-year-old is “excited” to be back where it all began.
It’s a pretty special place … it almost feels like I’m coming home in a sense.Viv Paasi
“It’s a pretty special place … it almost feels like I’m coming home in a sense,” he said.
“I’m really looking forward to whatever challenges are laying ahead.
“I know the club didn't have the greatest year last year but at the same time before that they’ve been very successful over a number of years and that’s on the back of Steve Hamson and the other coaches he’s worked with.”
He said he had a few structural changes in mind to shake up the Lions’ focus on the field.
“From my understanding the playing group are really looking for a structure and looking forward to bringing in different playing styles and attacking and defensive structures and working with the guys,” he said.
“But I’m going to learn just as much off them as they will off me.”
One of the challenges will be retaining younger players, with all of the 2017 colts side departing the club for a variety of reasons – mainly leaving Orange to study.
Paasi said he would begin calling the 2018 colts premiership squad in the coming weeks, but the initial noises he’d heard from others in the club were mostly positive about retaining most of the players.
Trying to develop the younger players and lower grades isn’t always the domain of the firsts’ coach, but Paasi said his goal this year wasn’t his troops making finals.
No, Paasi wants to try and win the club championship.
“I do believe we should be aiming to be as successful as we can be as a club,” he said.
“Trying to be up there in winning the club championship is a very important goal, and whether you win it or not is another thing but winning a first-grade premiership doesn’t always mean your club is going well.
“My view is when you win a club championship you may not win a premiership in any of those grades but you’ve had to do something pretty special for everyone to bind together to win that championship.”
This reflects the view of president Steve Stone talking about Paasi’s appointment earlier this week, which also slated Hamson moving into a coaching director role at the club.
“Off the field I suppose I’m trying to really instil what our culture’s about … bringing everything together where the juniors and colts are just as involved as the old boys,” Paasi said.
“The most important thing is to set something up for the next five or 10 years to come and setting those good foundations in place.”
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