Hooper's Young Guns continuing to shine
AT THE behest of his junior coach, former Queensland schoolboy representative Jake Hooper took over the mentoring reins of a promising touch football side, Young Guns.
The group of 14-16-year-olds showed plenty of ability, but needed instruction in the ways of the modern game which Hooper could provide.
Just 12 months later, 'Young Guns' were crowned Ipswich Touch Association A-Grade Men's champions.
Hooper's charges defeated the previously unflappable Better Than Lego 8-7 in the ITA decider, showing a measure of on-field maturity far beyond their years.
"The team has been together for a couple of years now, but I was only introduced to them last year when I was asked to coach them,” Hooper said.
"The role I was given was to guide them in attack and help implement some new defensive styles - introduce them to the modern game.”
Hooper admitted he had never considered taking on a coaching role, but it did not take long before he took to the caper like a duck to water.
"I'd never been in that type of role before, and it was just a good feeling,” Hooper said.
"It's something I had never considered before, and it's even more nerve-wracking than playing because you want the boys to succeed and you really push to make it happen for them.”
Although the team is built predominantly on Ipswich talent, the decision to compete in the ITA competition came on a whim.
"We are preparing to play in the Junior State Cup (in July 2018) and so I asked the boys if they wanted to play in the Ipswich competition,” Hooper said.
"We didn't have high hopes or any expectations (of winning), but I told the boys everyone is beatable and if we play our best it would be a close contest (against Better Than Lego).”
Hooper praised the willingness of his young side to take on board his teachings and run with it.
"There's no cocky or arrogant kids in that group, they're all a good bunch of blokes,” Hooper said.
"When I came in I worked on some attacking moves and defensive patterns, and they've just taken it all on board and worked hard for it.”
Young Guns will continue their preparations for the Junior State Cup with competitive appearances at the South West Cup and then Sharks Cup on the Gold Coast. "We'll use those competitions as a build-up to try and get as much game time in as we can,” Hooper said.