ROBERTS & KEMPTON APPOINTED FIRST EVER CO-COACHES OF BIG V

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The VAFA have announced that the senior representative Big V team will be co-coached by University Blacks premiership coaches Cameron Roberts and Matthew Kempton. Roberts and Kempton replace the outgoing Simon Lethlean who decided not to continue in the role he held since 2012. 
The co-coaching structure is a first for the VAFA, a trend that has been employed with great success in club football in the past half dozen years. 
Roberts coached Blacks to their drought breaking Premier Section triumph this year and had to step down from full time club coaching after just one season due to work commitments. 
Kempton coached Blacks for two seasons (2012-13) and saw their rise back to a powerful force in the VAFA, claiming the Premier B flag in 2012 and taking Blacks to a preliminary final in their first year back in Premier since 2008. 
Kempton stepped down as Blacks coach at the end of 2013 to dedicate more time to his family told vafa.com.au that being appointed as co-coach of the VAFA senior side was the perfect re-introduction to football. 
“This is a huge honour to be appointed co-coach of the VAFA’s senior side with Robbo and for both of us, this is the perfect avenue to stay involved in coaching footy at a high level whilst still maintaining a balance with family and work.” 
“I have always admired the VAFA representative program, it is the best for a reason, not only through the sustained success over many years, but the competition embraces it, and more importantly the players playing are keen to wear the Big V with pride” said Kempton. 
Kempton represented the Big V at Under 19 level and whilst he was invited to train as a squad member on a few occasions, his full time work and study commitments prevented him from making every session and hence being available for matches. 
Because of this, the 2006 Moore Medalist, was always supportive of his players  at Blacks playing representative footy when the chance was there and is all too aware that whoever is in the final 22 are not only great footballers, but all are ready and thrilled to be a part of the representative team. 
Kempton and Roberts have a strong relationship and when approached by Director of Representative Football, Nigel Crediln, about coming on as coaches of the senior team they both jumped at the chance. 
“Robbo came to Blacks as my assistant in 2013 and it was only late in the preseason that he decided to pull the boots on, nevertheless we developed a great working bond that will serve us well in this new venture” said Kempton. 
Cameron Robert’s also has representative program experience although not with the Big V. He played for South Australia in the Under 18 Championships before being drafted to Geelong in the AFL. Roberts was involved in representative football when in the Northern Territory, coaching the NT U16s at the Australian Championships and worked as an assistant to the NT U18s. 
“It was disappointing not to be able to continue coaching the Blacks in 2015 due to work, but this opportunity is one that I jumped at. To be invited to coach the best of the VAFA’s talent with someone like Kempo is a great thrill and honour” said Roberts. 
“Kempo and I are complete opposites in many ways, but our values and expectations on a football fields are very much in line” said Roberts. 
“When Nigel spoke to us, we had our own discussion on how it might work and the appeal of not only coaching the Big V, but working with someone like Kempo was enormous” said Roberts. 
One thing is certain, Kempton and Roberts have a hard act to follow. Simon Lethlean has led the senior VAFA rep side imperiously for the past three season. 
Lethlean’s record as the senior Big V coach is unblemished, since he took on the position in 2012, he has coached wins over the Eastern Football League twice (2012 & 2014), AFL Sydney (2012), AFL Victoria Country (2013) and AFL Queensland (2014). Lethlean’s 5-0 record betters the 100% records of Frank Dunin 4-0 (1966-67) and Alan McFarlane 4-0 (1962). However, for overall coaching wins of the senior Big V, Joe Kelly (1950-57) leads the way with 14 wins from his 15 matches in charge. However, Lethlean’s record in representative football is not perfect, he also coached the VAFA Premier C- Division 4 side in 2011 to a loss against the VCFL Number 2 team (AFL Vic Country 2).
The first assignment for Roberts and Kempton will be to select a squad of players in preparation for the pre-season AFL Victoria Metro Championships match to be played against the Northern Football League (NFL) in March. 
The VAFA won the Championships last year when they defeated the EFL and with Northern earning a right to challenge after they defeated the Essendon District Football League, the match again has a huge amount riding on it. 
“We have already had conversations with Simon Lethlean about the squad he has worked with over the past few years, Simon has been very giving with his time as I am sure he wants the VAFA’s success to continue” Kempton said. 
With a squad for the match against the NFL to be announced in late January or early February, both Roberts and Kempton are under no illusions about the challenge of selecting players that haven’t played a game in earnest for four months. 
“The planning has started already, we will speak to the senior coach at all the Premier and Premier B clubs and of course will use the input of Nigel and Simon, plus others that have been part of the representative program in the past few seasons” said Kempton. 
Roberts also told vafa.com.au, “Obviously a lot will be based on last year’s performance, but equally it would be great to give some new players a chance to perform at this level.”
The assistants and other coaching team are yet to be finalised with both Kempton and Roberts keen to engage with personnel from other VAFA clubs that they are familiar with to ensure there is a cross section of clubs represented in the leadership group. 
After the AFL Victoria Metro Championships the next fixture to prepare for will be the VAFA’s match up against AFL Victoria Country on 11 July, 2015.
Kempton and Roberts are the first VAFA senior representative coaches from University Blacks since Peter O’Donohue and before that Frank Dunin. From everyone at the VAFA, we wish them the best of luck as they strive towards keeping the VAFA as the number one representative outfit in community football in Australia.