Bates' plan to give young Magpies their wings
FOOTBALL: Sitting in the shade of a Villa Park grandstand, incoming Doon Villa coach Steve Bates sees a grand opportunity.
It's not the opportunity for himself, far from it.
Bates has been involved at most levels in a decades-long career in the game. He is a former coach of the Bundaberg Spirit, the state league team which provided a pathway to top tier football for six years.
He has coached locally, as far north as Cairns, interstate and beyond, and has had direct involvement in the progression of players from community football to A-League contracts.
Bates offered a helping hand to Wide Bay Buccaneers last year - he took over as a caretaker after foundation coach Tim Lunnon's removal and Adrian Elmes' appointment - but the timing was not right for him to make a full-time commitment to coach the region's Football Queensland Premier League club.
At Villa Park, less than 24 hours after his appointment was announced at a special players' meeting which also included a discussion about the club's desired long-term future to be Wide Bay's most professional club and a premier development destination, Bates revealed his motivation was to help build a development system that could benefit Maryborough's youth players.
Bates, who played his first game as a junior for Doon Villa in 1976, does not want the headlines. He doesn't want the attention his appointment is destined to generate, nor does he particularly want to be seen as the final piece to Doon Villa's premiership puzzle.
"Villa was a big part of my life, and to be able to come back and give back to the club played a major part,” he said.
"It certainly means a lot to me. My son (Jeremy) came through the club and he was able to go on to play National Premier Leagues in Sydney. I coached junior grades from 2000 and on before I moved on with representative teams.
"Our history together is extensive, and it's time to give back to the club and put the club in a position as a more professional outfit.”
That professionalism is what Bates, president Adam Hedberg, and the committee are dedicated to build.
Hedberg said the club had maintained conversations with Bates for the past few seasons but the stars aligned for 2019.
"We've been interested in Steve and the time is right for him now,” Hedberg said.
"It brings another level of professionalism in our approach. It gives us great organisation for the start of 2019, and it brings a lot of other elements of his skills and ability and experience at high levels.
Bates' first goal, as far as the senior side is concerned, is to prepare for the FFA Cup.
Doon Villa beat Wide Bay Buccaneers in the 2018 knockout, and fell just short against NPL team Sunshine Coast Fire.
"The level we're hopefully going to take Doon Villa to, I'm going to take the approach at Doon Villa the same way as I take a state league team,” he said. "My theories and philosophies are exactly the same.
"The club is actively trying to push themselves to the next level. Clubs have to get a more professional approach if they are to get the state league sides off the ground. This is the best way I can help our state league sides in the area.”
Youth players will be a major part of the Wide Bay Premier League set-up, and the increased competition for positions int he first XI should push Doon Villa to a prolonged stay atop the competition.