Coach jumps at opportunity

February 2, 2024 BY

Dual roles: Heathcote seniors coach Andrew Saladino will also helm Sandhurst squad in the Central Victoria Football League women’s comp. Photo: FILE

FOOTY coach Andrew Saladino will tackle some unique challenges in the 2024 season.

In what will be his third season as Heathcote’s senior coach in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL, Saladino will also take charge in Sandhurst’s debut year in the Champions IGA-backed CVFL senior women’s competition.

“It’s a massive challenge, but one I was really keen to have a go at,” Saladino said.

“There was an opportunity to be involved with Sandhurst, and I thought why not.”

Saladino said the amazing support from Heathcote FNC meant he can take on both roles.

Training for Sandhurst’s women’s team kicked off last week at Ewing Park and drew an enthusiastic group.

“Five or six of the girls have never played competitive footy before, so there’s a lot to learn.

“It was a great turn-out for our first session,” Saladino said of a 90-minute training session.

“Being able to help develop their skills is what I am looking forward to, as much as enjoying the game.”

The squad will train each Wednesday at Ewing Park from 6pm.

Saladino said it’s not too late to sign up and more details about registration are available on the Sandhurst FN Facebook page.

The club’s coaching panel for the senior women’s team includes Grace Campbell who brings experience from AFLW level with Collingwood, and Liam Ireland, a senior player with Sandhurst.

Since he took up coaching Heathcote in 2022, Saladino has led the club to sixth place, and last year’s grand final where it was runner-up to Mount Pleasant by 19 points.

The Saints have strengthened their squad as they aim to break a senior premiership drought which has lasted since the 17-point victory against Lockington Bamawm United in 2010.

Heathcote’s squad was back on track earlier this week and will have workouts on Tuesday and Thursday at Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve.

Saladino said being able to delegate roles played a big part in the Saints success last year.

“Codie Price is outstanding as an assistant coach and captain,” Saladino said.

“He will play a big part in helping run and set-up training drills. He’s one of the best players in the league.”

The Saints start a new season with the grand final rematch on 6 April on Mount Pleasant’s turf at Toolleen.