New Sunshine coach Heath Scotland was keen to get back into local football after losing his job in the AFL system.
A development coach at North Melbourne this year, Scotland was one of several in the industry to lose his job due to COVID-19.
Realistic about his chances of getting another job in the AFL for next season, Scotland decided to return to local football, signing with the Western Region Football League division 1 club.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Scotland said.
“Looking at it, 30 per cent of AFL coaches lost their jobs, so it was going to be difficult to step back into another role.
“I wanted to get back into footy and get back into coaching and I love coaching local footy. I was approached by Sunshine and I sat on it for a week or two and now the rest is history.”
Scotland previously coached his junior club Darley, including to the 2017 Ballarat Football League premiership, before moving to North Melbourne.
Scotland said talking with people at Sunshine they could see some correlation between the Kangaroos and Darley.
Like the Devils, the Kangaroos have a young up and coming list.
“It ticks a lot of boxes,” he said.
“Sunshine is a really strong club and is filled by good people. They were speaking about correlations between Sunshine and Darley.
“The club has struggled the last year or two, but made the grand final a couple of years before that.
“There’s the challenge of building the side from down the bottom and bringing them back up. It’s an opportunity to test myself.”
Scotland, who played 268 AFL games for Carlton and Collingwood, said he was aware of the level of competition in the WRFL with some of his family members having previously played in the competition.
The location also works well for Scotland who lives in Keilor East, meaning he doesn’t have massive traveling time as he did when he was at Darley.
Scotland replaces Adam Contessa who stood down from the role in late August.
Scotland said the club was now in the process of getting its list in place for next season.
“Most players don’t want to commit until a club has signed a coach,” he said.
“Now that’s happened, we’re going to look at bringing back Sunshine people to Sunshine.
“We’re not going to be bringing in people left, right and centre.
“Every club needs to bring in players when they’re down the bottom, so a couple of players will be essential.
“We’ll start with looking to bring in locals and then see what we need from there. It’s about getting the right people to the club.”