It’s turning into a real family affair down at the Gunning Roos, with Cooper and Bayley Loughhead set to play in the first-grade side this season, with their dad Paul as head coach.
Paul Loughhead was newly appointed as head coach at the Gunning Roos this year, having completed his apprenticeship at the West Belconnen Warriors under premiership winning coaches Adam Peters and Troy Thompson.
His first season at Gunning is now going to be even more special, with his sons Cooper and Bayley joining the team. Cooper and Bayley both played for the West Belconnen Warriors, but when their teams pulled the plug, they decided to join the Gunning Roos.
“Dad got offered a coaching job out at Gunning, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to play out there, play against men and get better competition. My team pulled out so I was going to Gunning anyway, I didn’t have another team to play for,” Cooper said.
Older son Bayley is looking forward to running out alongside his brother.
“It was a good opportunity for me to go and play with my little brother. I’ve played first grade for the past four years so it might be the only chance I get to play with him, so I thought I’d come out, have a run with Cooper and Dad, see how it goes,” Bayley said.
The Gunning Roos family culture was one thing that drew Paul to the club, and he is proud that his family will be contributing to this.
“It’s really good, and for our family too it’ll bring us all closer together and for Cooper and Bayley to be able to play in the same team together it’s a really good opportunity for them,” Paul said.
“I think it’s really good for our club as well because when I went out there I said I wanted to create a family culture and leading from the front with me coaching and both my sons playing there it will be really good for the club and the George Tooke competition too I think.”
Having to navigate not only his first pre-season as head coach but also the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy, but Paul says the team was always going to be part of the 2020 season.
“It was a pretty easy decision for us at Gunning because we’ve been supporting the CRRL all the way through. We were always in as far as a comp goes, there were some teams sort of on and off whether they wanted to play, but Gunning were always 100% in,” Paul said.
Only four teams are participating in this season’s Blumers Lawyers George Tooke Shield men’s competition: Gunning Roos, Bungendore Tigers, Gordon Highlanders and Burrangong Bears. But Paul says that the team’s main goal is still to take home the trophy at season’s end.
“I think I’ve got 22 players on the books so we’ve recruited well this year and Gunning sort of haven’t gone really well in the last couple of years, they’ve had a couple of hidings. This year we are really looking at turning things around and we’re not going to be out there just to play in the comp and fill up numbers as the fourth team, we’re striving to actually win the competition.”
The Gunning Roos kick off their campaign against the Gordon Highlanders in round one on Sunday 26 July, with kick off at 2pm.
The full draw for the competition can be found here.