Highly-regarded Gippsland footballer Tom McQualter has been appointed coach of the Alex Scott and Staff West Gippsland Football Netball Competition’s inaugural senior interleague football team.
McQualter, who spent the majority of his successful playing career at Traralgon, played for Inverloch-Kongwak last year and couldn’t resist what he described as a “golden opportunity”.
“The chance to work with the best players from two leagues combined together in a new competition was too good to pass up,” McQualter said.
“In my mind there is an opportunity for this competition to become one of, if not the, premier league in Gippsland and really rival the Gippsland League over the next 10 years.
“We want to lift the profile of interleague across multiple years and being a new league there is an outstanding opportunity to show how high the quality of football being played in West Gippsland is.”
McQualter’s brother Andrew played 94 AFL games for St Kilda and Gold Coast – including three grand finals with the Saints – before taking on a coaching role at Richmond, and Tom was planning to use those sorts of connections to benefit players in West Gippsland.
“Interleague footy is always a challenge to get people excited and motivated about it and what I would love to bring to the West Gippy interleague program is some excitement and some fun but also some real opportunity to be exposed to elite football,” he said.
“Whether it’s AFL clubs or other elite sporting organisations players not only get the chance to play interleague but learn more about how elite players operate and go about it.”
West Gippsland has been drawn away to Riddell and District Football Netball League for its maiden Worksafe Community Championships fixture on Saturday May 13.
With just five rounds of home and away matches prior to that game, McQualter was keen to tap into the knowledge of coaches and key figures from across the competition and has already appointed Cora Lynn senior coach David Main as an assistant coach.
“If we put our best team on the park and play good exciting footy we’re probably going to be good enough to compete with anybody… and hopefully we have good involvement from each of the clubs,” he said.
The appointment comes one week ahead of the maiden competition fixture between Cora Lynn and Inverloch-Kongwak at Cora Recreation Reserve.