By David Nagel
DEFEATED grand finalist Berwick has wasted no time in setting the scene for redemption after the appointment of Noble Park stalwart Stewart Kemperman as its senior coach for 2017.
The former Berwick junior replaces Rhys Nisbet, who stood down after four years in the role after Saturday’s grand final loss to Cranbourne.
The appointment is the result of a careful and well-orchestrated plan from Berwick, who had a commitment from Kemperman roughly 10 weeks ago.
Nisbet, who has stepped down due to family and work commitments, was heavily involved in the coaching selection panel, which kept things very secretive until this week’s announcement.
In an unusual move, Berwick president Glenn Gambetta informed the club’s committee that a coaching selection panel had selected a new coach for next year, but he was unable to provide the committee with the name of the successful candidate.
“We wanted the transition to be as smooth as possible and I think the club has handled the whole process in a very professional manner,” Gambetta said.
“Normally news like this doesn’t survive in the football environment for this length of time, I’m proud that we got to this point without it leaking out.”
Gambetta said the Wickers had well and truly got their man.
“We made a list of roughly 20 candidates and Stewart was at the top of that list,” he said.
“Once Rhys and I had met with him, we knew we had the right man, it was just a case of getting him across the line.”
Kemperman’s playing credentials are impeccable.
After his junior days at Berwick he played with the Dandenong Stingrays, played in a senior premiership with Beaconsfield in 2003, before spending four years with Frankston in the VFL. He moved from Kars Street to Noble Park in 2007 and became a club legend.
The now 32-year-old used his raking left-foot to full effect, playing a key role in multiple premiership victories for the Bulls.
He has been an assistant-coach at the club and took over the senior role in a caretaker capacity in 2014. He said the time felt right to finally step into a full-time job of his own.
“First and foremost, I’m privileged and honoured to take on the senior job at Berwick,” Kemperman said.
“It’s a massive role, one I definitely don’t take for granted, and I can’t wait to get involved heavily both on and off the field. The trust and respect has already been garnered through the process which provides a great base to move forward.”
The star half-back said he had no intentions of pulling on the navy blue jumper.
“I won’t play, because the way footy’s played these days you need your mind on the job and with playing and coaching it’s easy for the mind to drift. And I’ll be 32 by the start of next season; it would hinder our junior development.”
Kemperman said he had full respect for the level of competition in the South East Football Netball League.
“The top four or five sides would match it with the best from the Eastern League and there are some great players who could easily make their mark in the VFL,” he said.
“If I underestimate the competition, I do so at my own peril.”