Kaniva-Leeor United will enter new territory under the guidance of a familiar face.
The Cougars have appointed club legend Ashley Grant as senior coach for their inaugural Horsham District Football Netball League campaign.
Grant won multiple league best-and-fairests during his playing career with the club and steps into a senior head coaching role for the first time.
"Personally, I'm just rapt that Ashley is in a position where he wants to - in his words - give back to the football club," Kaniva-Leeor United president Jason Gordon said.
"I played with Ashley, and you don't often get guys (like him). He was a once in a generation player.
"(For him) to be a local player, and be living locally, and have his family be involved with the club forever, it's great to have that stability."
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Grant will be assisted by fellow club stalwart Chris Chaston.
Both will serve in non-playing roles, addressing a previous area of concern for the playing group.
"As non-playing coaches, it's a bit of a different set-up," Gordon said.
"Some of the feedback coming from our players was that the bench wasn't as impactful as they thought it could have been.
"When you have a playing coach on the ground, a lot of times that's the case.
"A lot of our top-end talent were reaching 32 or 33 (years old), and some of the guys that have been playing with us for four of five years were coming to the end of it anyway. So, this is sort of a forced change."
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The Cougars' former coach, Nick Murphy, departed for the Adelaide Footy League after the 2020 KNTFL season was cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic, ending a four-season stint with the club.
"Replacing him was always going to be really hard. But it took us a while to build up to where he got us," Gordon said. "Nick's first year we didn't make finals. People tend to forget that.
"In footy you're only as good as the last game, and people's memories don't go back too much further than that.
"So, we're just bumbling along."
Grant beat out six other applicants, all with links to the region, to bag the coveted position.
"We're delighted to be able to appoint a coach, and ecstatic that so many people applied," Gordon said.
"It just shows where the club is in the community's hearts. Some of the blokes who missed out are aggrieved that they didn't get the job, which is also a good thing. It means it's a good job."
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