by Andrew Slevison
Age not a burden as young gun Will Edwards appointed captain of Waverley Blues FC
Will Edwards has been named the captain of the Waverley Blues Football Club for the 2016 season.
The classy midfielder, who joined the Blues last year, only recently turned 22 but has already made an enormous impact on the club as a whole, and in particular his peers - the playing group.
A former VAFA U19 and U23 representative, and product of the Sandringham Dragons U18 setup, Will came to the club with a fantastic pedigree which any supporter saw quite evidently via his performances in his debut season.
A runner-up finish in the Best & Fairest as well as second place in the player-voted Most Valuable Player award in 2015, ‘Wilba’ as he is more affectionately known, showed us all what he is capable of.
Now he has taken the next step by being appointed stand-alone captain at Charles St, succeeding club legend Paul Savage and star veteran Matt Sharpe in the role.
Coach Ben Carboni has absolute no doubt that Will has the attributes necessary to successfully lead the club.
“Well aside from his ability and his performances to date, he’s becoming demanding of what is quickly becoming a young group,” said Carboni.
“But the clincher for me was how many times he stood up when we needed him last year. I expect this role will help him take this to another level.
“The younger brigade are drawn to him and clearly respect him when they respond to what he says and they follow his lead.
“I guess the final decision was based on the fact there is a big changing of the guard at WBFC and I couldn't pick a better successor to Sharpey and especially Paul Savage who has done a terrific job for the previous years.”
Will’s match day desire and willingness to train at his absolute best way to prepare himself for games was something the coaching staff also looked at when considering the former Caulfield Grammarian.
“From the outset, Will’s intentions were clear to me and no doubt the playing group,” added the coach.
“To do everything he can from a personal point of view in terms of preparation and to perform on game day. His input and feedback with me personally has been that of someone who you could mistake for having played 150-plus senior games.
“His game day impact doesn't need much more explanation. He's a class player with a good head on his shoulders.”
With Will only 12-and-a-bit months past his 21st birthday, you could forgive Carboni from shying away from handing such a young man this enormous responsibility, but he has supreme confidence in his choice, touching on the old mantra that age is simply a number.
“I think if I was to throw him under the bus and say its your responsibility now, he would definitely feel under more pressure. But the fact Sharpey, Paul and myself, along with the five vice-captains 100% support him will make life easier.
“He'll thrive on it and continue to influence the group. I’m backing him in to go to another level. He’s proved on field when things get tough he goes up a gear. The club as a whole embraced him early on, and I can only I can only imagine this continuing.”
Regarding any ill-effects of the captaincy and how it may have a negative impact on Will’s individual performances, Carboni said: “I know Will well enough to know he’s not one to shy away from a challenge or responsibility.
“Will it have an effect on his performances?
“I certainly wouldn’t want to play on him this year.”
Edwards will be assisted by a fairly youthful leadership group consisting of Ben Turner, Nathan McCulloch, Kieran Nolan, Nathan MacDonald and James Hansen and Carbs is backing that quintet to really be a strong support for the new skipper.
“We decided on five vice-captains this year, all sharing the same responsibilities. We've been working together over the summer on driving this campaign from within, all of them have more than exceeded my expectations so far. Which means internally we can set the bar higher.
“The six of them are not only good players and good mates, but they are fully invested in our goals. I couldn't be happier with them to be honest.”
I got the chance to catch up with the impressive Wilba following his appointment and here is what he had to say:
Andrew Slevison: How does it feel to be given the honour to captain the WBFC?
Will Edwards: To be named captain of the Waverley Blues is very humbling, and I feel very privileged to be given the role.
To see the names of past captains of the club, and to be put alongside them means a great deal to me and is something I don’t take lightly at all. I love playing footy at the Blues and I cannot wait to lead the boys out come round 1.
AS: At such a young age, is it a daunting task, or do you believe you'll have the support to make the appointment a success?
WE: At most clubs I feel the captaincy could be seen as a daunting prospect at my age, but with the amount of leaders that we have on our list, the task becomes much less daunting.
Having the support of blokes like Sharpey, Sav, and Carbs is huge, and they have been, and will continue to be a great help and resource for me throughout the year. They are all elite leaders whom I look up to, and their experience and sound advice will be of great assistance all year.
Not to mention the leadership group of Nolan, McCulloch, MacDonald, Hansen, and Turner who have all set the standards this pre-season, and will continue to drive the club forward. All of these factors combine to create a team approach to leadership, one that I think will be very successful.
AS: You’ve quickly adapted to life at the club. Has it been an easy integration?
WE: Yes, the transition into the footy club has been amazing. Joining a new club is a scary thought at first, but everyone at the Blues (not just players), made the process so enjoyable, and I have felt so welcomed since the first day I got to the club.
AS: What are the club’s aspirations from a playing group point of view this season?
WE: I think every club is saying the same thing at this point in the pre-season, but I genuinely believe we have the ability to achieve great things in 2016, with our goal being no less than a premiership. The playing group is the closest it’s been, and I think that goes a long way to a team playing well together.
Inside the club’s four walls, we are very driven and have great belief in what we are capable of producing in season 2016.
AS: How has the pre-season been? Are you confident heading into the new season?
WE: This pre-season has been very tough at times, but very enjoyable. Our strength and conditioning coach Troy Fluitsma has put us through some very tough sessions, but the boys never blink an eye, and have worked hard the whole way through.
The group is as fit as I’ve seen it, and I have a great confidence in our capabilities as we near round 1.
AS: What sort of an influence has Carbs and the rest of the coaching staff had on you?
WE: Each member of the coaching staff has had a positive influence on me, and I have great relationships with all of them.
Carbs has one of the best football brains you’ll ever come across, and has seen nearly everything when it comes to local footy. His feedback and advice has been huge in developing my footy and leadership at the Blues.
My brother Nick has had the greatest influence on me both as a player and as a person, and along with Jimmy Lawson and Horse (John Hindson), it makes for an elite coaching team who will no doubt bring out the best in the group.
AS: Which players at the club do you look at to try and emulate?
WE: One player that immediately comes to mind is Sharpey.
With us both being stocky, slow (sorry Matty) midfielders, he is definitely a player I model my game on. He has taught me much, and picks up on things on field that most people would never even consider.
Chris Goldstraw’s goal celebrations are also something I can only envy, maybe not emulate!
AS: Will it be difficult to lead some of these older guys, knowing you've only been at the club a year, or do you feel you will have their backing?
WE: I believe I have built great relationships with the boys since coming to the club, and get along well with everybody. The Blues are an incredibly united and tight-knit group that all back each other in and support each other, so hopefully I can continue to gain their respect, and we can attack the season head on.
From everyone involved in the club, well done Will on this brilliant achievement so early in your career. It’s a massive feather in your cap and I’m sure you will lead the boys to plenty of success this year and beyond!