IT will be all about proving people wrong at Kempsey Saints in 2021.
Every coach is confident about their team’s abilities before a football is kicked and Saints mentor Evan Clarke is no different.
But he has gone a step further and while he believes Saints possesses a squad who can finish in finals contention, the mentality of his team could be what sets them apart.
That’s the difference between a competition front-runner and the also-rans.
“From day one the boys showed me they’re keen to win and that’s half the battle,” he said.
“We’ve played two games in pre-season and one of those was a good (FFA Cup) win against Macleay Valley and I’m confident we’re going to build on that.”
Part of his job description will be to instil a genuine belief that they can match it with the best sides in the competition.
That was missing all too often in 2020 with their only win in the abbreviated nine-round season coming against last-placed Taree.
They will need to improve significantly, although they did lose their first three matches by a single goal.
Who knows how their season may have panned out if they took something from those fixtures.
“I think we’ll surprise a lot of teams with how far we’ve improved from last season; we’ll be competitive with every team in the competition,” Clarke said.
“The boys are as keen as ever, fit and capable of doing more than they think they can. That’s my job to get them to believe in themselves.”
Saints will field one of the younger, more inexperienced sides in the Coastal Premier League.
Rather than being daunted by the unknown, the coach felt his squad had enough talent to offset the inexperience levels.
“There is a lot of talent there, it’s just about trying to figure out how to put it all together and make a winning team,” he said.
“The quality of the players isn’t the issue … it’s about figuring out a way to get the right players to step up, build their confidence and then create a winning mentality.
“The boys are good enough, they just need to believe in themselves and we’ll get the results.”