ROOKIE COACH DEFIES CRITICS
By Todd Davey
He’s inexperienced, he’s too young, and he won’t be able to handle the older players.
These were all the criticisms levelled at Queanbeyan’s 22 year old senior Coach Kade Klemke when he took on the Tigers top job with the hopes of bringing the premiership cup across the border for the first time in 12 years.
None of that seemed to matter on the 16th of September however, as the Queanbeyan Tigers reigned supreme in the Eastern Conference, with Klemke holding the cup aloft, vindicated with the knowledge that he proved the critics wrong.
It was justification for a season that saw the Tigers jump from easy-beats to world-beaters in less than twelve months. Klemke’s stellar season was capped off with Coach of the year honours at the Eastern Conferences night of nights two weeks ago.
Yet it’s not just Klemke’s playing ability that turned heads in his maiden NEAFL season, with the ex-Essendon rookie lister claiming a back pocket position in the Eastern Conference team of the year, underlining that his leadership qualities are not just confined to the Coaches arena.
The running half backman personifies what the mantra of “team above all” represents. This was indicative on the weekend when Klemke moved himself as far back as possible and sacrificed his own game to shutdown Sydney Swans livewire Trent Dennis-Lane who was threatening to take the game away from the Tigers. It proved to be a match-winning decision with Queanbeyan rallying and eventually running out 30 point winners.
It’s the kind of selfless act that doesn’t wow supporters or get your name in the paper the following day, but it’s the embodiment of what wins you Grand Finals and elevates the true leaders from those who shy away from the responsibility.
This weekend will pit Klemke’s Tigers against the winner of the Northern Conference Grand Final, the Brisbane Lions in a showdown to see who will be crowned as the overall kings of the NEAFL. After the season that Klemke has had in 2012, it would only be fitting that the Eastern Conference Coach of the year finishes off his stellar season with the ultimate prize that the NEAFL has to offer.
Not bad for a ‘kid’ who’s too inexperienced and too young to Coach in the NEAFL.