Tasmanian AFL graduate Nathan Grima said he was “honoured” to become the 20th senior coach at Sturt in the SANFL.
The 33-year-old defender’s playing career featured 88 games and one famous goal for North Melbourne before two more appearances with Essendon but he said the South Australian competition provided one of his highlights.
Grima won a flag with Central District in 2007 a year before being rookie listed by the Kangaroos and said the South Australian capital is as important to him as Melbourne or his native Evandale.
“I love the city of Adelaide,” he said. “The role came up at Sturt and I have a passion for footy and a passion for coaching. Sturt is doing a lot of things right so I won’t need to reinvent the wheel.
“Winning a premiership in the SANFL is still one of the best days of my life. The by-product of that success in this league, enabled me to get drafted and enjoy, albeit an injury-prone, AFL career.
“Eleven years later to now be back involved and able to have the impact and influence on like-minded players to where I saw myself, is humbling and exciting.”
Originally formed in 1877, the SANFL is the oldest surviving football league of any code in Australia.
Established in 1901, Sturt is one of 10 teams in the competition and plays its home games at the Unley Oval.
Growing up in Launceston, Grima played for the Tassie Mariners, South Launceston and the Tasmanian Devils before moving to South Australia.
His father Monty was a stalwart with Evandale, brothers Alex and Todd also had brief AFL careers with Hawthorn and Geelong respectively and sister Hollie was an Australian basketball international.
Grima’s playing career was cut short by injury and he has since been coaching at Strathmore in the Essendon Football League.
He returned to Adelaide with his wife Jacinta and two-year-old daughter Amarli. They are also expecting a baby boy.
“My initial focus is to build relationships with all our players, staff and assistant coaches,” Grima told the Sturt website.
“I plan to get straight to work on list management, recruiting and preparation for the pre-season.”
Sturt is doing a lot of things right so I won’t need to reinvent the wheelNathan Grima
Sturt president Jason Kilic said the coaching panel assembled to find dual premiership coach Marty Mattner’s replacement had no hesitation in offering Grima the role.
“We were extremely impressed with him during the interview process and are confident that he will continue the success the club has had the last few seasons whilst bringing his own brand of football to the club,” Kilic said.
Football manager Chris Trapp said Grima was an exceptional candidate who presented well and displayed great enthusiasm for the role.
“Our search was thorough with some very experienced candidates, however, Grima stood out, possessing an astute football mind and strong personal values,” he said.
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