When South East United make their debut in the 2019 Veto Men’s Southern Championships, it will mark the latest stage in what has been a meteoric rise for the newest club in Tasmania.
For senior coach, Glen Roland, it will also mark the beginning of a long-held dream.
Roland has been with South East United since our first teams took to the pitch in 2015, serving as club treasurer as well as social stalwart and youth team coach.
After twenty years playing senior football at New Norfolk, Metro, Glenorchy Knights and Clarence United, Roland began his coaching career with the Dodges Ferry Under 6s.
In an incredible feat of stability, the SEUFC senior squad of 2019 will actually include several players who have been with him right from the start, including son Nicholas, 16, who is blossoming into a very talented young attacker himself.
‘That’s what I love about this club,’ Roland said this week. ‘South East gives players the opportunity to develop from the juniors all the way through the youth program, right up to senior level.’ With around a dozen teenagers already signed up in the Southern Championships squad, this is certainly true. But can a team with such a youthful core possibly compete in the cut-and-thrust world of men’s senior football?
‘Why not? We have some very talented kids, plus we have a very strong and experienced core to help bring them through. We’ve picked up a couple of very handy additions too, but we need to keep our expectations in check. Our main aim is to prove that we belong at this level, that FFT are right to believe in us and give us this opportunity. I’d say mid-table should be achievable. We’re going to ruffle a few feathers this year, that’s for sure.’
Whilst the overall squad is shaping up nicely, the boss was still at pains to point out that there is still plenty of room for new players to come in before the Summer Cup game later in the month.
‘We could do with a quality striker, maybe a new defender and winger too. With two teams to fill, there are opportunities for new players all over the park, really.’
Indeed, in the team’s only friendly to date, an exciting 3-4 loss to seasoned Southern Championship campaigners, Nelson, South East had to loan one of the visitors’ goalkeepers, as both home custodians were unavailable.
Roland intends to build on the growing successes he enjoyed in developing his youth charges from whipping boys at the Under 13 and Under 14 levels (in which time they won just a solitary league game) to becoming the most unlikely Under 15A champions in 2017.
Last season, his team finished runners-up to Beachside in a hotly-contested Under 16 competition, and it was this continuous improvement, combined with a spirit and energy which caught the attention of some of the state's biggest names last year, which persuaded the committee that Roland was the right man to take charge of the senior team in 2019.
‘I’ve had a clear picture from day one of where this journey was going. I have my own unique way of bringing individuals together and getting the best out of them as a team. I am an open book, I believe in my players and they trust that I will do everything I possibly can to help them reach their goals,’ he explained.
‘We play a pressing style, with high intensity and the emphasis on fast transitions into attacking areas,’ he continued. ‘But, above everything else, we are a team. This club is going places and it’s a privilege to be able to share in this journey.’
South East’s pre-season program continues with senior training every Tuesday and Thursday, leading up to the Season Launch on Saturday 16th February, when NPL giants South Hobart provide the opposition.