“Seeing players when they’re scoring goals – running and enjoying themselves. It just makes me feel quite proud and pleased.”
Stan Pappas is one of Flame’s longest-serving coaches and for the past two years has been in charge of the under-18s team whose season was one of many cut short by COVID-19 this year.
During this spell with the Club, he has coached in the Association Youth League before now in the NPL 2 Youth set up.
“Into football? Wow, that’s a long time ago! That’s almost 40 years ago,” he said.
“My elder brother played football and I just followed in his footsteps. I started at four years old… played until I was 28.”
Pappas got into coaching at a young age at 18 years old while continuing to play.
He emphasised the joy of a methodical plan coming to fruition on game day as a key reason for getting involved in coaching.
“That’s what really excited me,” he said.
‘When I first started there was no session planning… just rock up and cross a ball – or do this, do that, do the simple things.
“It’s methodical and repetition and seeing them improve as a player and as a person.”
In the first of his now eight years at Flame, Pappas took charge of the Under-12s Regional Youth League side.
“We were training one night a week and playing every fortnight,” he said.
“It just grew from there really… we went to two nights a week training because it was starting to get a bit serious and we started saying let’s do more!
“I’ve seen the club, the organisation, grow from a really part-time identity to now a full-time identity.”
Pappas highlighted the people he worked with as what has kept him at the club for such a long time.
“You grow attached to the place, it’s just a family,” he said.
“Every time you walk in there the parents are fantastic. The other coaching staff are great.
“They believe in your ideas, they encourage you, they are always there to listen.
He also said seeing player development first-hand has been a rewarding experience.
“We retain so many players through the youth system that just keep coming back,” he said.
“One example is Zander Alston… he started with me, he’s been with me for five years… He went straight to first grade and he didn’t seem out of place whatsoever.
“That’s a pleasing aspect of what we are supposed to do as coaches.
“There are others that are coming through the system now and we can see in the next couple of years we are going to have a really good balanced team and good future ahead of ourselves.”
Pappas was recently announced as the South Coast Flame Under-20s Coach for 2022.