Football: Elite coach going back to the future

By Anendra Singh

Grant Hastings is coaching at a level where he believes it matters most. Photo / File
Grant Hastings is coaching at a level where he believes it matters most. Photo / File

Where should coaches go after hitting a dead end at the conclusion of their elite careers?

Logic demands they should return to the grassroots level where the impressionable will absorb their words of wisdom before bad habits creep into their game.

Former Bluewater Napier City Rovers Central League coach Grant Hastings will be at the helm of the football academy at the Hastings Boys' High School (HBHS) from next year.

Hastings will assume the mantle of HBHS director of football in a part-time capacity, contributing 20 hours a week.

A stint with the Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United was a possibility for Hastings who became surplus to requirement after leading the Rovers to a Lotto Central League title and to the final of the Chatham Cup (national knockout) in 2011.

However, the candid coach reveals he didn't want to pursue a Bay United stint for fear of turning it into an ego trip.

"Coaching one of the top clubs in the country [Rovers] was already an honour and privilege for me," he says, adding his achievements there gave him invaluable experience in the beautiful game.

He finds more satisfaction in developing players at a club level than with a franchise "who are in and out".

Coaching one of the top clubs in the country [Rovers] was already an honour and privilege for me.
Grant Hastings, coach

"Teams change year in year out at Hawke's Bay United where you're continuing to rebuild rather than develop," he says, mindful the schools become the catchment for the next generation coming through.

Enticing talent from the Flaxmere to Havelock North areas in Hastings to HBHS is paramount.

Hastings sees it as the continuation of something he started with the Rovers in Napier, the "Need for Speed" programme last year. The holiday programme was geared towards all Bay youngsters.

HBHS teacher in charge of football Mick Darmody is keen on Hastings piloting the programme with the school academy.

This year Hastings has conducted gym sessions twice a week with senior HBHS pupils from 7am-8am and took Year 9-10 academy players under his wing four times a week.

In the last two months, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, he has mentored the HBHS First XI squad who competed against men in the Central Football-run ComputerCare Pacific Premiership, albeit finishing winless and last.

The schoolboys were banking on the experience of four or five old boys to help out but they went to other clubs, leaving the side in the lurch.

"It's very important for the schoolboys to play in the men's league but it's finding out where they should play."

HBHS finished fourth at the Super 8 Tournament in Tauranga in June-July, while Napier Boys, traditionally setting the pace here, were sixth.

"Hastings Boys' High have also had a rough time with injuries but this season they have developed the intensity and pace of their game and it showed at the Super 8 tournament."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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