By Oliver Lees
The only way is up for the Sunbury Kangaroos, according to coach Leigh Sporle as his side continues to play its young talent in division 1 of the Essendon District Football League.
The Kangaroos gained promotion into division 1 after going undefeated in their 2019 season in division 2.
But Sporle, in his first year of coaching the club, said the team has undergone wholesale change since that premiership-winning 2019 side.
“We lost a large number of players after that year,” Sporle said, who notched 250 games as a player at the Kangaroos before rejoining as coach.
“We’ve also had a large number of injuries, so there’s been weeks where we’ve had around 14 players with under 10 games of senior football experience
“I doubt there are any other clubs in the league playing with such a young side.
“My focus is to keep things enjoyable and keep getting games into these young guys, it’s only a matter of time before we turn it around.”
Among their injured stars is premiership ruckman Brenton Sutherland.
Sutherland was a crucial piece in their unbeaten 2019 run, finishing second in the club’s best and fairest as well as best on ground in the grand final.
The Kangaroos currently sit in ninth place on the ladder with two wins and five losses.
The team has lost four straight after a promising start to the season with wins over Rupertswood and Taylors Lakes.
Spurle said two wins was a promising return for their first season in division 1.
“For me, it’s interesting because people thought we weren’t going to win a game, most people would have had us finishing dead last,” he said.
“I’ll admit that the top three sides are a big challenge for us, but from there I think we can win most games.
“We’ve had three games where we’ve only lost by six goals or under, so we’ve been in the hunt.”
The extension of Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown has seen community sport put on hold for the past two weeks.
As the EDFL is classed within metropolitan Melbourne, all games and training have been temporarily suspended.
The league took to social media following the announcement of the extended lockdown, stating that they will endeavour to reschedule games that have had to be cancelled.
Sporle said as coach, it’s his job to keep the team engaged while games and training are limited.
“Most guys play for enjoyment and to get away from the daily grind, so we’re really hopeful it can come back soon,” he said.
“We’ve got a few group chats to keep communication up as well.
“My message has been that we need to remain flexible and keep our fitness levels up. It’s about understanding that level of flexibility needed.
“It’s just a matter of time before things turn around.”