By catherine mcgauran
With less than one month to go before the start of the TAC Cup, Loy Yang B Gippsland Power coach Nick Stevens and his team are ready to go.
Stevens, who played a total of 231 Australian Football League games with Port Adelaide and Carlton, began coaching three years ago and still cannot believe it is a job.
“It doesn’t feel like a job,” he said.
“It’s incredible to be able to do this everyday.”
Stevens began his coaching career with the New South Wales under 18 side, before taking on a part time midfield coaching role at Richmond.
During 2011, he accepted the coaching position at the Power because he wanted to pursue coaching full-time.
Stevens said he enjoyed working with young players because he is passionate about developing the “whole person”.
“With this age group, it’s not just about what they do on the field,” he said.
“It’s about developing the players as people and giving them the tools to make good decisions in life, whether it’s on or off the field.”
The Power currently have about 150 players vying for 42 positions on the under 17 and 18 list and similar numbers competing for places in the under 15s and 16s.
Since his arrival prior to Christmas, Stevens has worked on training players in the style of football he wants them to play.
“I want to get them playing a quick, exciting brand of football with a strong defensive element,” he said.
“The way the players have worked so far has been incredible; they’ve got a great ability to take it all on board.
“I couldn’t ask for more.”
As a coach, Stevens believed one of the big challenges facing modern coaches was adjusting to the generation Y mindset.
“Gen Y think differently,” he said.
“You have to come up with ways to get through to them and it’s important to realise there’s a difference.”
Stevens, who came through the TAC Cup program in 1997 with the Northern Knights, said the program has come a long way since inception.
“What they have in place now is fantastic,” he said.
“They don’t get it wrong too often now with the kids they draft.”
While the club aimed to get as many players as possible into the 2013 draft, Stevens reinforced the focus was on developing young people with good life skills.
“At this age it’s all about development,” he said.
“Through football they’re learning a very disciplined lifestyle from a young age.
“We want them to be able to use that in whatever they choose to do in life; be it football or something else.”
The Gippsland Power will play its first TAC Cup match against the Dandenong Stingrays on 31 March at Morwell Recreation Reserve at 1pm.