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Roach the coach . . . Club stalwart Keith Roach is looking forward to coaching Meadowbank this season. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Keith Roach is excited about the challenge ahead.

Roach has been appointed coach of the Meadowbank United senior men’s football team for the new season, and is optimistic about the 2016 champion’s chances in the South Canterbury league.

The former long-serving player decided to pursue the off-field role after seeing the club needed to find a new coach to replace Karl Burke.

“Most of the boys that were there last year are coming back – they know the way I work,” Roach said.

He said there might be the odd game where he would step out on to the playing field.

“If there’s an occasion where they are a bit short then I’ll put the boots on, but otherwise I’ll stick to the sideline.”

Fitness and ball movement would be two key things Roach planned to work on with the team.

Running could be daunting but it was the best way to keep someone’s fitness levels up.

“Some people call it pointless running but it’s a necessary evil,” Roach said.

“A lot of the time, fitness will make up for any lack of skill.”

Originally from the UK, Roach is an avid football fan who has been playing the sport for about 52 years.

“Being from England, I’ve naturally been brought up with it. Dad used to play football and we used to watch football all the time. It’s just part of the family, really.”

The love for football was passed down through the family.

“My grandson does it, my son in-law used to play in the same team as me, my son plays it, and one of his daughters does it.”

Roach brought his passion for football to New Zealand when he emigrated from the UK 48 years ago.

“When I first came to New Zealand, I was a player for the Oamaru club – they used to play in the Fletcher Cup grade in Dunedin.”

Roach, a legal executive at Hope and Associates Legal, also continued his love for football in North Otago when he ran indoor football at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre.

In his spare time, he follows the A-League and catches up with highlights of the English Premier League.

The Meadowbank club is waiting to gauge the strength of the men’s squad before it decides whether to enter the first or second division in South Canterbury.