Newly appointed Lower Plenty women’s coach Stewart Lewis is hoping he can use his tenure at the club to help build a platform for the Bears’ women’s football program.
Lewis comes to the club following three seasons at Greensborough which included a Division 3 premiership in 2019 and a Division 1 finals appearance this season.
His assistant at the Boro, Brett Temple, will also come across to Montmorency Park and join the Bears ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Lewis told nfnl.org.au that the challenge of building Lower Plenty’s women’s football program into a strong and sustainable arm of the club was the catalyst in moving on from the Boro.
“I usually have a three-year tenure at clubs to help set them up as best as can be and after this year, it was time for the [Greensborough] players to have a different voice, so Brett and I decided on Lower,” he said.
“We felt like we set [Greensborough] up and left them in a good position, so it was now time to help someone else,” he said.
Following their debut season in 2021 in which they finished sixth in Division 1, Lower Plenty joined forces with Bundoora to create a combined side for this year’s campaign where they finished in ninth place with three wins.
They faced Lewis’ Greensborough twice throughout the 2022 campaign and it was in their grading clash in April that had the Boro premiership coach thinking ahead.
“During the third quarter, I asked Brett if he can see anything in the Lower side and are they coachable,” he said.
“We both thought they were a reasonable side, but grading hadn’t been kind to them after their inaugural season, which saw them put in Division 1 straight away, but the potential is there.”
Lewis is already hard at work just a week after his official appointment, aiming to recruit enough players to ensure the club won’t have to combine with another side again in 2023.
“I’m trying to retain some of the initial Lower Plenty players and if the Bundoora ones want to come across, they can,” he said.
“We’ve got some of the Research junior players coming through there and I’ve targeted some players from the Diamond Valley so, we’ll go from there.
“I don’t want to do a combined thing, it’s very hard to get all the players into one place at the one time when you’ve got two clubs vying for a ground each.
“We’ll try and go back to being one club, which I think is at the moment I can see it being on track, we just need to gain some momentum.”
Throughout his nine years coaching women’s football, Lewis has been impressed by the increased standard of the competition as more girls begin to play footy at a younger age.
It’s allowed him to develop his own coaching which he hopes can translate to some improvement for the Bears in 2023.
“The tackles are more brutal, the players competing in 50/50 contests are tougher, speed and agility has picked up and the skills have picked up because the young ones coming through the junior system are ready to hit the ground running,” he said.
“We did videos, tutorials and we posted them to the group, we were always doing one-on-ones with the players.
“It’s been beneficial in the past so we keep pushing the players to simply just learn and I can’t see why we can’t do that at Lower also.”