Westlawn Tigers premier league coach James Joyce.
Westlawn Tigers premier league coach James Joyce.

Joyce earns stripes as Tigers coach

FOR those accustomed to manager mode on football video games, executing set-plays that you invent pre-match is a virtual reality.

But this is about to become reality for new Westlawn Tigers coach James Joyce.

A proven leader in the past for the Tigers squad, Joyce was a clear favourite when it came to acquiring a new coach at the end of last season. However, he will have you believe he was "just the one guy who couldn't run away fast enough".

"We advertised for the coaching role at the end of last season," Joyce said. "And I was the name that came up for the role. It's going to be a situation where I'm playing as a sort of player manager but I will not be the captain of the team.

"It isn't my preference really but I guess after being involved with the game for so long, coaching was just a part of my natural progression.

"It will be a challenge. A lot of that is juggling it around everything else in life. Being involved in soccer is second nature to me; I've been doing it for over 25 years now. Last year I coached the under-16s side to a grand final victory."

Joyce's first real challenge as coach begins in the first round of preliminary matches for the FFA Cup when the Tigers take on Nambucca Strikers FC on Saturday, February 28.

This season will be a bit of a challenge for Joyce as he brings a younger squad than most to the FFA Cup with a lot of boys who will thrive from the bigger, faster game experience.

"It is a bit of a different situation this year from last year," Joyce said. "A few of our premier players are no longer playing this year which gives a lot of the younger guys a great opportunity to play for the top team.

"We will be fielding a very youthful squad this season with only three players over 20.

Ideally we would like to have a few older heads guiding the young guys around the park but unfortunately we won't have that. We have an issue that we lose players once they hit that 18-19 age range and move off for university.

"The young guys that we do have are a great bunch of players and we have a great focus on team unity and playing for each other. We just need to work on that commitment to effort."

"The speed and strength of the senior game is much different and once you're in seniors there are no longer easy passages on the field. Once you lose the ball you need to put in the effort to get it back.

"So it is just that mental aspect and that commitment that we are working on most with the boys."

Seniors train on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Barnier Park from 6pm to 7.30pm. The 2015 season kicks off Friday, March 27 for Under 15 and 16, while all other grades kick off on Saturday, March 28.

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