OUTGOING Timboon Demons coach Brendan Hickey wants potential successors to realise what his young list could be capable of in coming years.
Hickey will step down at the end of the season 2014 but will stay on as a player, paving the way for a new coach with fresh ideas to rise to the helm.
The 30-year-old spent time as an assistant at Simpson before returning to his home club before the 2013 season, taking over from Michael Clements.
His tenure has coincided with a rebuild at Timboon Recreation Reserve. The Demons finished 10th last season and are ninth after 15 rounds this season.
Hickey, an electrician who runs his own business, said work demands factored in his decision.
He acknowledged the group would benefit from “a new voice, a new mentor” and believed would-be coaches should be excited by what was possible.
“From my point of view, this whole interview is the first selling point of that,” he said.
“It’s really about making sure someone sees what’s here and see it as the opportunity it realistically is.”
Central to his optimism is the promise shown by a group of home-grown teenagers who have made their mark at senior level this season.
The Demons have blooded about a dozen under 17½ players, with half cementing their spots in the side despite their inexperience.
They include Ben Saunders, Joel Moriarty, Smith brothers Ryan and Dylan, Sam Plozza and Ash Rosolin.
Alex Lees and Eddie Gaut headline another group in their first or second season out of juniors.
“We have half-a-dozen under 17 kids who have played double-figure games of senior footy this year,” Hickey said.
“Which next year takes them to a stage where they’re in that bracket of 10 to 30 games and can take the next step with their development.
“We’ve had another four or five who have had their one or two games and have been given a taste of what to expect next year.”
Hickey said his preference was for a playing coach to take over, simply because the young list heightened the need for on-field leadership.
He said securing a key forward and an inside midfielder were the biggest recruiting priorities. Their ruck and defensive stocks are relatively sound.
“We’ve worked pretty hard defensively. It was something we always felt would stand the group in good stead in the future,” he said.
Hickey said he had enjoyed the chance to coach his home-town club — “it’s something from a little while back I’ve always fancied I’d have a crack at”.
He was circumspect about the lack of wins during his tenure but was proud of the progress the young players had made.
“You’re always optimistic when you first take something on,” he said.
“But a number of different people had said to me we could go through a couple of lean years before we see something out the other side.
“That’s the way it’s panned out. Overall that hasn’t fazed me as such. It’s easier to do that when it’s your home footy club.
“You can be quite content to say ‘OK, I’m not going to be the successful coach but in the future as a supporter of the footy club I’ll get to see that’.”