HEREFORD Stampede have seen head coach Paul Kent stand down from his role to join Premier North side Sandwell Steelers.
Kent has been a major part of the Hereford-based Stampede earning their associate status and a place in the British American Football National League.
The Stampede, led by Kent, were due to compete in league action for the first time earlier this year before Covid-19 saw the season cancelled.
Sandwell play in the top tier of the British domestic game and Kent says the challenge was one he couldn’t turn down.
“I noticed their old head coach had departed and after speaking to the chairman of the club our visions aligned,” said Kent.
“They are in the Premiership division so to get the opportunity, I had to take it up.
“They play in the top level of the sport so it will be good to challenge myself.
“Being an amateur sport Sandwell was the only Premiership club in the vicinity taking into consideration travel time and being realistic.
“They were due to have their first Premier League season last season (which was cancelled).
“So it will be a new challenge for them and me. There is thought to be a jump in quality and teams that go up to the Premier can sometimes struggle.
“So we want to make sure we stay there. We have a three-year plan to become the best team in the Midlands.
“The teams we are playing will be from Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Tamworth and Edinburgh.”
Kent is planning for the season to begin as usual in April, providing coronavirus restrictions will allow.
He wants to thank everybody at the Stampede who has congratulated him on his new position.
“I was happy at the Stampede and I’ve had three fantastic years as head coach,” said Kent.
“But it’s always good to challenge yourself as a coach so this was a good opportunity that I had to look at.
“It was a very difficult decision to be fair. The Stampede is in a good position so it was very difficult to leave.
“The relationship I have with the Stampede players and staff is great and I’ve had some quite memorable moments with them.
“Being in a head coach role in sport can feel a bit isolated a lot of the time and people only talk when things are going wrong.
“With the Stampede lads I’ve had lots of messages of support which is nice.”
With no training or competitive action allowed under current Covid-19 guidelines, Kent says it is going to be a strange start to life with the Steelers.
“I’ll be in a lot of Zoom meetings talking to the new coaching staff,” he said.
“The best way to meet people is on the training pitch to get to know all the players.
“So we’ll have Zoom meetings and I’ll be spending a lot of time watching videos of previous games.”