A former Hampden league footballer is excited about the challenge of lifting a Warrnambool and District league club up the ladder.
Joe McKinnon has signed on as senior playing co-coach at Old Collegians, joining returning non-playing mentor Ben Van De Camp at the helm.
The Warriors, who finished bottom of the ladder this year without a win, are hoping to build upon a young playing list in 2024.
McKinnon, who has connections to the club through his work, is eager to take on his first coaching role.
"Can't wait, it's going to be a huge challenge but it's something I'm willing to take on and hopefully we can see a little bit more on-field success in the next few years," he said. "Hopefully we can start to win a few games."
McKinnon, who has played the majority of his football at North Warrnambool Eagles, spent the 2023 season with Warrack Eagles in the Wimmera Football Netball League.
He featured in 14 games this season as a forward, kicking 31 majors.
While Warrack struggled results-wise, McKinnon felt he found enjoyment in his football again.
"Personally I did okay, had a lot of fun," he said. "The main thing was to get the enjoyment back last (season) and I got that... I feel like I'm ready to take on a coaching role."
He said he had been lucky to be led by some great coaches in the past, including former North Warrnambool Eagles mentor Adam Dowie.
"The likes of Adam Dowie play a big part in my knowledge in football," he said.
McKinnon, who can play both ends of the ground, acknowledged the Warriors' path to on-field success would take hard work.
"I think they're a very young side... I think just by bringing in a bit more experience and a bit more knowledge around the game of football, I think it will go a long way to getting the club back and being competitive," he said. "We all strive to win premierships but I really want to make sure Collegians is the type of club people want to come to.
"Successful on the field but also the enjoyment factor is the main reason people play country football.
"The club knows where it's at and where it needs to be at. Now we've just got to do the work to get the club up-and-about."
McKinnon, who is stepping back from captaining and playing cricket at Northern Raiders this summer to focus on the new role, said the Warriors would be on the front foot trying to lure some "new faces to the club".
"This time of year is massive in terms of the success you can bring later on in the year," he said. "We'll definitely be looking to do as much work as we can in the off-season."
Van de Camp believed McKinnon was a great acquisition for the club, both as a coach and player.
"I think the best part is it gives Joe an opportunity to learn the role and bounce off someone at the same time and importantly as a player concentrate on his game on match-day," he said. "(For me) it's a set of fresh eyes and he brings with him experience from playing under a number of excellent coaches.
"For his age, he's really mature from a football point of view, he brings a great IQ."
Van de Camp said there was a core group of players at Old Collegians "keen as ever" to taste on-field success.
"We've got a mindset of we've been there in the hard times, we want to be there in the good times," he said.
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