Ipswich Knights coach Stewart Drinkeld.
Ipswich Knights coach Stewart Drinkeld.

Knights coach working on goal

NEWLY-appointed Ipswich Knights coach Stewart Drinkeld reflects his approach to challenges when he rates Italian great Gennaro Gattuso the footballer he most admires.

"He was not the most gifted player but he was the hardest worker,'' Drinkeld said of the former AC Milan and Rangers defensive midfielder.

Drinkeld, 36, has also been respected for his work ethic and enthusiasm in helping young players achieve their goals.

The midfielder even played in the Knights Crocs team of stalwarts that won the recent metro competition grand final.

However, the former Ipswich Knights captain knows the challenge he faces returning to the Brisbane Premier League club as head coach for the first time.

"It was a really good opportunity first and foremost,'' Drinkeld said.

"It was the right time.

"Probably the club has been underachieving for a number of years and we'll try to get that back on track again.

"It's a long-term project, trying to get a lot of processes in place.''

The Knights men finished mid-table with the club just escaping relegation from the BPL.

Drinkeld is aware of the coaching issues that hampered the Knights in the first half of last season's campaign.

However, the experienced footballer knows how the Ipswich club works.

"The next step is to maintain our club position in the BPL and then we need to start bringing the good kids back because they've all gone - to play in the NPL (National Premier League) or gone to Force or Lions,'' he said.

"It's a catch 22. You've got to have the juniors in place so that's certainly going to be a focus . . . and what we can do to address it.

"I'm not here for one year. I want it to be a long-term vision . . . rather than just being a quick-fix for a season. I'm not interested in that.''

The highly regarded mentor understands the importance the Knights have in regional football.

"We provide a pathway to the NPL (National Premier League),'' he said.

"If we're not around, there's no pathway in Ipswich for kids. There's lower division stuff but it's a massive, massive jump to NPL.

"We want to be a development pathway so that we have kids step up into the NPL and do a really good job for our club too.''

Key position: Stewart Drinkeld

  • Role: New Ipswich Knights Brisbane Premier League men's coach. Age: 36.
  • Works at: Ipswich Girls' Grammar School (head of health and physical education).
  • Previous senior coaching: Western Spirit, Lions. Had success with Ipswich Grammar and Ipswich Girls' Grammar School teams over a number of years.
  • Why keen to help the Knights: "I've got a passion for the club and played a number of seasons there. I've been involved with probably the last team that was in the Premier League finals (late 1990s, early 2000s). We certainly need to start turning things around and going in the right direction.''
  • Best piece of advice received: "If you work hard, results will eventually come.''
  • Favourite music: Jack Johnson, Coldplay.

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