Smart steps up at Hoppers Crossing

Hoppers Crossing's coaching panel for 2024. (Supplied)

Tara Murray

Stepping into a senior coaching role was a natural progression for new Hoppers Crossing FV state league 2 north-west coach Kevin Smart.

Smart, who has played at the club for a number of years as well as being captain and on the committee, was appointed the coach replacing Allen Vella.

Smart said it was an opportunity he was excited for. He said it was something he had been thinking about the last few years with his playing career coming towards the end.

“It’s a pretty easy transition,” he said. “The last two to three years I’ve been coaching juniors and helping out the seniors as a playing assistant coach.

“I’ve been around the club since I was three years old. It feels good, but there’s a lot of pressure to do a good job and put ourselves in a good position.

“I’m really looking forward to the next part of my footballing career and bringing in fresh ideas to the foundation that has been built over the last couple years.”

Smart said while he had taken up the coaching position, he was still yet to technically retire.

He said he would see how the pre-season played out before making that decision.

“If we get the playing squad we want to get, I will look to retire,” he said.

“That has been the idea the last three years. We’ve had injuries in the squad though.

“I’ll still have the boots on at training and it will be a last resort [him playing].”

The Reds will remain in state league 2 next year, having narrowly avoided relegation.

Smart said the way last season worked out could be a blessing for the group going forward in their development.

“We survived in the last game of the season,” he said. “ We had a young squad the last two or three years Allen and myself had put together.

“It was a little bit of having a a young side and not being experienced enough to close out games and it got us in trouble.

“I don’t think we deserve to be down the bottom. Just silly mistakes cost us.”

Smart said they would look to go with the same core group again. He said they were hoping to add one or two more experienced players to compliment the group.

“The young lads are now 23-24 and had three to four years in senior football now,” he said. “It’s time for them to step up, they don’t have any excuses. They’ve got to be senior players now and they have to step up.

“Hopefully we get improvement from them and then go from there.”

The Reds start back training next week.