Steve plans for team Spirit

MARYBOROUGH’S Steve Bates is not afraid to pull any punches.

“Kids are like animals, if you treat them well they’ll give back to you,” the coach of the under-19 Bundaberg Spirit representative soccer team said.

Whether that philosophy works remains to be seen as the Spirit prepare to tackle their inaugural season in Queensland State League.

The 48-year-old Bates is the man in the hot seat this year and the former coach of the Doon Villa men’s first division team is ready to meet the challenge head-on.

He doesn’t care if he ruffles a few feathers with his remarks – he’s there to do a job and good one.

“I know some people will be upset by me saying that about the kids but hey, I’ve been coaching kids a long time now and I firmly I believe that’s the case,” Bates, who has coached Wide Bay at under-12, 13 and 14 levels during his career, said.

“They will give it back two-fold if you look after them well – I’ve got no doubt that this talented squad of 17 players will do just that judging on the way they are going in training.

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

The 17-strong squad includes 12 players from the Rum City and five from the Fraser Coast.

The Maryborough duo of Aaron Mackie and Jacob Miles will team up with Hervey Bay’s John Cullen, Tim Merrick and Brady Watt.

The team will play 21 games in what is called the Southern Division.

Bundaberg will be the most northern team in the competition and for many it will be the first time players have faced rivals from the Gold Coast, Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba.

Bates said he would be doing his best to make sure his team was on the ball for the big season ahead.

“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.

“We’ve been training since mid-November and we’re rearing to go.

“This is a great chance for players in our region to showcase their talent on a new stage and they will.”

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

“He’s a great bloke and a great coach,” Mitchell said.

“He knows exactly what needs doing for these young lads.”

The team will play a trial game this weekend and two more before their first competition game against Logan on April 3.

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