ROB Bennett has quit as coach of Kangaroo Flat one year into his three-season appointment.
Bennett informed the club on Thursday morning that he won't be continuing in the role next season, saying his motivation has been drained, particularly off the lack of communication that he believes has tarnished his reputation after not coaching the Roos last week.
Rather than coaching the Roos against Eaglehawk last Saturday afternoon, Bennett was at the Australia v USA basketball game in Melbourne with his two sons, the fallout of which has contributed to his decision.
"I had a conversation with Scott (Mitchell, president) on July 27 that went along the lines of I had purchased the tickets before accepting the job and that the club needed to have a discussion as a committee and a football department. If they didn't agree with me attending the basketball with my two boys then I would get someone else to go with them," Bennett said on Thursday.
"That same night I also had a conversation with some of the leaders from the playing group and requested that same conversation be held with the remaining leaders and playing group and if there was any concerns I'd organise something else.
"I totally understand if there was any negative feedback on it.
"But 24 hours later I received a message from those leaders saying that it has been discussed, it doesn't look great that the coach isn't there, but we understand that family comes first and we're not going to tell anybody not to put their family first.
"I thought the discussion with the entire playing group had been had, but I only found out this week it hadn't and I'll admit that's a downfall on my behalf.
"I sent a message last Thursday night via text to the players as I do every week with the team and made mention that I would be at the basketball on Saturday, and then another message to the leaders to assist Matt Clifford and Matt Boland, who were taking control.
"So I believed I had all bases covered and that there were no issues."
However, Bennett says the reaction by a "small percentage of the playing group" to last week's events has been enough to quash his enthusiasm to continue in the role.
"It's disappointing that when you spend the past however months it has been together as a unit that there's some people who haven't had the honesty or decency to raise any issues," Bennett said.
"But what's most disappointing are the rumours and talk that has been around that I just didn't turn up to fill my duties last Saturday.
"That's not the case at all... when my character, reputation and ethics are being called into question by people who aren't qualified to do that, it takes your motivation and desire away to continue.
"It's really disappointing it has ended this way. Those in the football department who have supported me, I really appreciate it, but this is a decision I've made for the benefit of myself and family."
Kangaroo Flat president Scott Mitchell said the club was disappointed to lose Bennett, but that it would have to wear the lack of communication surrounding his absence last Saturday.
When my character, reputation and ethics are being called into question by people who aren't qualified to do that, it takes your motivation and desire away to continue.- Rob Bennett - outgoing Kangaroo Flat coach
"From our point of view, there has been a communication breakdown," Mitchell said.
"Rob told some people about what was happening, but the information hasn't been passed on properly or to the right people.
"There's a group that includes the football department that needs to put their hand up and take part of the responsibility for a lack of communication, and I put myself in with that as well.
"There were several discussions held over time (about Bennett going to the basketball rather than coaching) and it basically comes down to a miscommunication and people just assuming that things were handled when they possibly weren't handled in a way that everyone was happy with.
"I totally understand that everyone has families and family comes first and that it's not all about football... in hindsight, yes, we would have preferred Rob to coach, but I understand that if there's a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something with your children then you would want to do that.
"I still stand by Rob; I don't think he has done anything wrong, he has communicated with us in terms of last weekend and perhaps we could have communicated within the club a lot better."
The Roos copped a 180-point belting off Eaglehawk at Dower Park to bring the curtain down on a disappointing 4-14 season that had started with plenty of optimism around 2019 being an improved year for Kangaroo Flat, which hasn't played senior finals since 2009.
Bennett joined the Roos almost a year ago to the day having previously coached North Bendigo to Heathcote District league premierships in 2015 and 2016.
But with Bennett now gone, it continues a cycle of Kangaroo Flat coaches. The club has now had 11 coaches since 2002.
"I guess it puts us behind the eight-ball now given other clubs have been out there looking already for weeks or months and we're at the start of our search," Mitchell said.
"We've got people who we were talking to come in as assistants to Rob next year, so we'll be reigniting those conversations down a bit of a different path. But we think we'll have an extensive list that we'll be able to chase up."
Bennett's decision continues plenty of upheaval among the BFNL coaching ranks ahead of the 2020 season.
Next year Kangaroo Flat, Kyneton (already appointed Nathan Thompson), Maryborough and Strathfieldsaye will all have new coaches at the helm.
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