Retiring coach Will Ryan has been given the club’s highest honour after taking Figtree to its maiden senior premiership.
The 29 year-old was delighted to receive the rarely presented Chairman’s Special Award for extraordinary service.
“I didn’t even know about this award, so I’m overwhelmed to receive the honour. It is very special to me but I must reflect it back to everyone who’s come along with me on the journey in the past four years.”
Club chair Neil Rowsell singled out Ryan for his outstanding commitment to the Kangaroos, after the coach took the reins four years ago in difficult times.
“It was halfway through the 2017 season and our senior coach just up and left. I’d had plenty of complaints up until that point about selection... I’ve not had not one complaint since. Will’s brought an honesty, respect and professionalism that was not there before.”
The long-term chair tracked Ryan down on Saturday night at the pub to deliver the medal, after the club claimed all of the men’s premierships across the AFL South Coast’s three grades.
“As chair, I’m over the moon. Even though we didn’t win premierships in every grade across the junior and senior competition, every boy, every girl and every man has played like a champion.”
It’s the second time the special medallion has been awarded in Rowsell’s eight years leading the club.
Ryan says the award caps-off a season like no other.
“Even though it was a short season, it’s taken us four years of effort to build. You don’t win three flags unless the club is in a great spot.”
Ryan retired as a player four years ago due to concussion issues.
The professional physiotherapist now choosing his moment to focus on family.
“My wife Nicole has always been patient and understanding knowing how important the club has been to me. But family and work now need to be a priority. Coaching has been something I’m lucky to have fallen into, especially with such an abrupt start.”
The dad to Charlotte says he’ll always be part of the club and has not ruled out an eventual return to coaching.
As for next season, the chair remains excited.
“Will has set up an environment where we’re flooded with players wanting to come to our club. While Will has retired he’s left behind a system and a group of people ready to take us into the future.”
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