GAVIN Thompson wanted a challenge.
The new North Companions coach certainly has more than one challenge on his hands as he prepares for the new Northern Inland Premier League season.
Lifting the Men In Black from their mid-table performances in recent seasons is his first and major test.
Doing it despite his working commitments and with a distinctive and respectful vision is another.
“It’s a challenge for me,” the former Tamworth FC player and referee said after Saturday’s 2-1 pre-season loss to Oxley Vale Attunga.
“It will take a bit of time.
“Realistically, our goal is to make the semis.
“They are all working well and are all prepared to work hard to attain.
“It’s also going to be a challenge for me because my work commitments mean I can’t get to every training session and every game,” he said.
“But I have good assistants. Chris Adams and Des Saunders (last year’s first grade coach) are there as well as reserve grade coach Mick Gray.
“The club is prepared to work around that.
“And we just want to enjoy our football.
“On and off the field. No rubbish.
“We want to be respected and respectful of other clubs.”
He has some good juniors coming through the ranks as well as a core of older players such as Ben Todd and Ben van Aanholt to rely on to provide the right direction.
While he is preparing for a big season, six NIF PL clubs have first-round State Cup knockout matches this weekend.
Armidale’s Demon Knights go to Boambee to play the Boambee Bombers at Ayrshire Park on Sunday while Tamworth’s Oxley Vale Attunga Mushrooms are also away at Omaru Park, Taree on Sunday against Wingham Warriors.
South Armidale Scorpions travel to Korora Field, Korora to play Club Taree on Saturday while reigning PL champions Tamworth FC play Mullumbimby Brunswick Valley at the same venue after the Scorpions.
Norths United and East Armidale match up in an all-NIF PL derby at Phil Wheaton Oval, Armidale on Saturday afternoon (2.30pm kick off).