MARC Smith has taken on the challenge of lifting Strathfieldsaye back into the top flight of Bendigo Bowls Division weekend pennant.
Smith has been appointed the new director of coaching at Strathfieldsaye Bowls Club and brings with him a wealth of big-game experience at both Bendigo East and Golden Square.
Smith is a four-time premiership skipper at BBD powerhouse Bendigo East, while he also coached and skipped Golden Square to its drought-breaking division one flag in 2014.
He takes over at Strathfieldsaye with the club having been out of division one of BBD weekend pennant since its relegation following the 2012-13 season.
"I'm looking for a change and this is a great opportunity to build a community around the club," Smith said.
"They have a lot of really good young players at the club and are really keen to try to get themselves back up into division one, so I'm going to jump on board as coach and try to help them achieve that.
"I want to make sure that the club is built on a really good foundation of respect for the game and opponents and that will be the starting point."
Strathfieldsaye's weekend pennant division two side finished second-last on the ladder last season, showing Smith has plenty of work ahead of him to lift the side back into division one contention given teams need to win the premiership to be a chance of promotion.
The club's division four side won the premiership last season with a 97-80 grand final win over South Bendigo, earning it the right to move up to division three, while its division five midweek side was also premiers.
Smith has long been renowned as one of the most energetic and vocal bowlers in division one of BBD pennant and ranks No.5 for most skipper wins over the past decade with 66 behind Brad Holland (97), Simon Carter (91), Ian Ross (89) and Andrew Brown (71).
So what is he expecting of the step down to playing and skipping in division two?
"I think it will be a challenge. There's good bowlers in division two who are probably a bit more unorthodox, which can make it tricky to picture what they're going to do, so you've probably got to be a bit more on your toes," Smith said.
"I'm going to challenge our players to look for them to play in district events, which a lot of division two bowlers don't enter, and get a feel for what it's like to play division one bowls while still in division two. Our aim is to get ourselves back to division one and make sure that when we do we're competitive."
Strathfieldsaye president Adrian Morris said the club was looking forward to the addition of Smith and the increase in professionalism he would bring.
"Marc is going to bring some professionalism to us and he certainly has the experience that is welcomed by the club," Morris said.
"He's a proven premiership coach and we're really excited to have him help us move forward and increase our ability to not only achieve a better outcome for our pennant sides, but he's really keen to engage the local community, too."
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