Steven Bates.
Steven Bates. Darryn Smith

Bates has youth on his side

HE HAS got the attitude, the connections and the dedication to propel the newly formed under-19 Bundaberg Toyota Spirit up the ladder in 2010.

Steven Bates, a Maryborough football nut and long-time coach, has been handed the reins of the youth team this season.

And he has brought with him the best young talent from Wide Bay, putting pressure on the Bundaberg juniors vying for a prestigious Spirit jersey.

Bates’ passion for the game is such that he travels regularly to Brisbane to analyse the A-League youth competition, while also having close ties with Sydney Blacktown, a feeder club for A-League franchise Sydney FC.

“Having watched a lot of youth football, I know what needs to be happening and at what level players need to be at,” Bates said.

“These boys have a long way to go but I think we can be competitive once they settle down.”

Bates coached the first and second division Doonvilla club in Maryborough last year, but was keen to progress to another level of coaching.

Head Spirit coach Richard Mitchell was full of praise for the new recruit.

“He’s a great bloke and a great coach. He knows exactly what needs doing for these young lads,” he said.

The new youth team will form the perfect platform into the open Queensland State League this year, meaning young talent will not be thrown into the lion’s den.

“I’d expect those good enough to play in the top Spirit side, but there would be a few that weren’t quite ready and will play youths,” Bates said.

And as for his coaching philosophy, he had this to say:

“Kids are like animals – if you treat them well, they’ll give back to you. I play and coach for the love of the game,” he said.

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