Sunday's youth girls' grand final is set to be Mooroopna coach Ivan Lister's final game in charge of the Cats.By Hannah Driscoll
Ivan Lister was keen to get back into coaching when he heard about the possibility of Mooroopna forming a girls’ team almost three years ago.
The former Ardmona coach said he still felt he had something to offer and it was great to get back into it that first season in 2011.
Two years on from that year’s incredible premiership win, Lister, 67, looks set to coach his final game as the Cats prepare for the inaugural Shepparton District Football League under-18 youth girls’ grand final.
Lister coached Mooroopna to back-to-back flags in the Bendigo Junior league’s competition in 2011-12, but, like 2011, the Cats will go into Sunday’s final the underdogs against an undefeated Echuca.
Lister speaks with pride when he describes how much the players have improved, from those with previous experience to those who had never picked up a football in their life.
Lister said it would be an emotional day when the final siren sounded on this chapter of his football career.
‘‘It’s just been an unbelievable journey for everyone who’s been involved in it, to be the ground-breaker of the whole thing,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s no doubt what we done that it helped set up the league and I think the whole club has been a great advocate.
‘‘We’re still certainly available if there is any other clubs or schools around that want some information on how to go about it or how we did it.’’
It is not surprising nothing will beat the high of winning the 2011 premiership.
Even Lister admits ‘‘We only just hoped, we never saw it coming’’, Mooroopna won only three games to qualify fourth and finished off defeating minor premier Huntly on the big stage.
At his side the whole time has been his wife Jenny, who has taken on the role of team manager of Goulburn Murray youth girls’ team competing in the V/Line Cup next year.
When asked if the team would have happened without the pair, Mooroopna Junior Football Club president Mick Betson said probably not.
‘‘Jenny and Ivan have been a team to make sure it’s happened basically,’’ he said.
Brittany Tancred was another key figure in the conception of the girls’ team, the former Mooroopna junior footballer returning to her club for its inaugural season after a year with Huntly.
She said having Lister as a coach was different.
‘‘Coaching girls, I think it was different for him too, but it was good, I had a good two seasons,’’ she said.
The state representative player said she got a new appreciation of the work that goes into coaching when she took on the Notre Dame coaching job this season.
Lister, a former competitive cyclist, wants to get back into riding recreationally and continues his work as a rural outreach worker with Hume Corridor Health Services.
His sons Max, 16, and William, 14, are also playing finals this weekend with Ardmona and Mooroopna, respectively.
‘‘Once I have the break and that and someone else in place, I will be so satisfied and have some wonderful memories,’’ he said.
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