By Josh Ward
It’s been a tough few years for the young Nunawading Lions, but they finally managed to get a win in season 2021 against fellow Division Four strugglers Croydon North MLOC.
Earlier on in 2021 the Lions lost to the KangaRams by 54 points at Koonung Reserve, but they managed to even the ledger away at Hughes Park, giving them their first win since August 3rd, 2019 (also against the KangaRams).
It was former Blackburn youngster who made the difference in Trent Sanquinetti, kicking four goals for the first time in his young senior career.
Josh Hill was a good contributor for Nunawading yet again as were Christian Lomas and Dean Veenendaal.
Speaking to EFNL.org.au, senior coach Ryan Dobson said whilst it was initially a feeling of relief following the win, he wants to continue to enjoy it this coming week.
“Now I can actually enjoy the win and enjoy it with the players. It was relief initially, now it’s about enjoying the week on the track,” he said.
It was also Dobson’s first win as senior coach of Nunawading, adding he was happy he got to share the win with a couple of the new Nunawading boys.
“We probably had 10 or 12 guys that played in their first senior win and a lot of guys who played in their first win at Nunawading,” he said.
“For me it was nice to be able to share that with them.”
And whilst he has found it hard to keep morale up, Dobson finds that setting small goals and targets helps keep morale up around a young group.
“When you’re going into a season and you look at your list and you look at where the club’s at you’ve got to be realistic,” he said.
“Let’s set some realistic goals and targets, sustainable ones that aren’t based on wins and losses.”
However he added that a win along the way helps the players that little bit more.
“Having a win along the way certainly helps with guys buying into the long term plan,” Dobson said.
This isn’t Dobson’s first year at Nunawading, having previously coaching the reserves for three seasons.
However, Dobson has enjoyed his first year as senior coach with the Lions and the step up from reserves to seniors.
“It’s a good opportunity when you have a job where you’re not having the pressure of wins and losses as you might have going to another club that’s got some success behind it.
“It’s been ideal for me to grow as a coach myself while the players grow themselves,” he said.
The job has been made slightly easier by the fact the side has started from scratch this year following the loss of a number of key players in the 18 months before 2021.
“When we lined up Round One against Kilsyth, we had only six players that would’ve played the last round against Surrey Park in 2019.
“It wasn’t building on what the club had achieved in 2019, it was more like starting from scratch again,” Dobson said.
This year he’s been impressed with his players, including the likes of ex-skipper Jordan Winter’s brother Cooper and Josh Hill.
“Josh Hill, he’s only in his early 20’s, he’s been a good contributor,” he said.
“Cooper was meant to miss the whole year because he was supposed to travel to the Northern Territory.”
“He came back and it took a couple of weeks to find his feet, but he’s really flourished and is helping lead the club.”
“Dean Veenendaal, who was one of our better players on the weekend. Nathan Bubis was fantastic and Josh Murley, another younger guy that’s been another good contributor for us this year,” he said.
“They’re that core group of guys that are under 22 that hopefully can stick around at the club. If we keep everyone there this year you’re going to see that natural improvement.”
And whilst initially he was dreading facing the likes of Coldstream, Forest Hill and Surrey Park, he’s excited to see where his team stands compared to those teams.
“You might not go in with expectations against sides like Croydon North.
“But you go into these games looking to see how your structure and how the team will hold up against these guys,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to challenging ourselves and seeing where we do stand now.”