By David Nagel
You beauty…community sport returns to the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition for the first time in 18 months on Saturday with Inverloch and Phillip Island set to burst at the seams over the Easter weekend.
Inverloch-Kongwak, the Sea Eagles, host Cora Lynn in an opening day blockbuster, while Philip Island take to the field for the first time since its 2019 grand final triumph when it rolls out the welcome mat for Kilcunda-Bass.
Returning Sea Eagles’ coach Ben Soumilas can’t wait to see football back up and running again.
“It’s been fabulous over the last couple of weeks to see the community come back together and I think it’s made us all realise just how important it is,” Soumilas said.
“It’s been great to see the smiles on the faces of parents, grandparents, volunteers, and club stalwarts, they all seem to be happy to be catching up and connecting again.”
Soumilas is certain about only one thing as he prepares his side for the huge challenge against the Cobras – and that is that everything is unknown after a lengthy hiatus from the game.
“It’s almost impossible to predict because there are so many unknowns, but I would like to think we will be really competitive throughout the year and give ourselves an opportunity at the pointy end of the season,” he said.
“With a full list, fit and healthy, I think we can compete with all teams in the competition.”
The 2017 premiership coach is expecting big things from midfielders Corey Casey and Ryan Sparkes on Saturday against a Cora Lynn side that he respects greatly.
“You never underestimate Cora Lynn, they’re normally a skilled and fast team and when they’re up and going can be extremely hard to stop,” Soumilas said.
“We have to be mindful of competing at the stoppages, but the best way to stop their momentum and run is to win the footy first. We’ve did six-weeks of preparation before Christmas and we’ve had eight weeks back since then, so there’s no excuses from us heading in.
“It’s going to be 30-degrees so the team that has the best preparation will probably win.”
Soumilas is also excited to see what impact that new rule changes will have on community football this year.
“I think for the last two decades we’ve tried to outdo each other with how strong defensively we can be, but I think there will be a switch to being more attacking this year,” he said
“If I’m a spectator paying my money I’d like to think the footy is going to be pretty exciting this season.”
For a full season preview grab a copy of next week’s Pakenham Gazette.
Easter Weekend Tips
PHILIP ISLAND v Kilcunda-Bass
Inverloch-Kongwak v CORA LYNN