I’ve come back to the club and it’s still strong – actually probably a bit stronger than when I left.
Buoyed by a new head coach, the Kiama Power are hoping to make the leap from perennial semi-finalists to genuine premiership material in 2017.
The Power will kick off their 2017 South Coast AFL campaign on Saturday, April 1 when they host Northern Districts at Bonaira Oval.
The club will again field teams in both Division 1 and Division 2.
The Power had a strong showing in 2016.
Division 1 were eliminated in the preliminary final, while Division 2 were beaten in the opening weekend of the semi-finals.
New senior coach Rod Richards said Kiama’s main rivals during recent seasons had been the two high-achieving Wollongong clubs (Lions and Bulldogs).
He said these clubs’ ongoing success motivated the Power to keep upping their game.
“We’ve got some good youth coming through, but having the Lions and the Bulldogs be so strong… The evolution of the competition has improved so much that the players have to improve as well,” Richards said.
Richards said the club had experienced minimal turnover in playing personnel from last season.
“Things have been going well,” he said.
“We’ve had good numbers and are looking forward to the start of the year, and hopefully the end of it.”
Richards coached Kiama three years ago, having coached the South Coast AFL senior representative side last season.
His predecessor at the Power, Bryce O’Connor, stepped down from the role due to work commitments but will remain involved with the club.
Richards said having a new coach on deck typically revitalised the players at a club, and Kiama was no different.
“Everyone’s keen to start the new year and try the new ideas that a new coach brings,” he said.
“I’ve come back to the club and it’s still strong – actually probably a bit stronger than when I left.”
He urged the Kiama community to support the Power in 2017, and help the club “start the year with a bang”.
Although facing sturdy opposition from many other sports, Richards believed AFL’s popularity in Kiama was rapidly increasing.
“It definitely is growing,” he said.
“(Compared to) the numbers at training from ten years ago when I first came to the league, the difference is astronomical.
“The junior numbers are growing too.”