Tiger’s Damien Hardwick wins “Coach of the Season”

By Dheepa Awtani
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#IndianTigersRoar trending in Victorian Indian community

Richmond Tiger’s coach Damien Hardwick has been recognised by his peers as the AFL’s “Coach of the Season” after guiding the Tigers to a drought-breaking grand finals.

Hardwick on Tuesday evening was named as a first-time winner of the AFL Coaches Association (AFLCA) Allan Jeans senior coach of the year award. The 45-year-old edged out his adversary in Saturday’s grand finale, Adelaide coach Don Pyke.

Hardwick, who came under significant pressure when the Tigers finished last season in 13th place, led Richmond to their first grand final in 35 years. The last time the Tigers won the flag was in 1980.

In his eighth year as senior coach at Punt Road Oval, Hardwick guided the Tigers to their first top-four finish since 2001 with 15 wins and seven losses. “Damien has really shown his mettle this season,” AFLCA chief Mark Brayshaw said.

Hardwick has been specially congratulated by Tiger’s Honorary Member and “number one female ticket holder” Indian actress Khushbu Sundar, who fondly remembers the privilege of getting her very first AFL lesson personally from Hardwick at the Tiger’s home ground.

Former ministerial adviser Mr Nitin Gupta; Indian billionaire Dr Mahesh Gupta (KENT RO); Indian politician Hon. Naveen Jindal; Prince HRH Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur; AFL Adviser Mr Darpan Mittal; Line Producer Nithya Remesan (Natya Entertainment); Richmond Tiger’s AFL India Ambassadors—Sonnika Sha, Nancy Sobti, Komal Popli and Priyanka Nomula; Cranbourne Socialites Mr Aravind Putta and Anchal Agarwal; and significant others have congratulated Damien Hardwick on his recent recognition.

Dr Gupta, who is one of the biggest sponsors when it comes to cricket television advertising, has been very keenly following AFL and Richmond Tigers, after being introduced to it by Mr Gupta and Mr Mittal.

Meanwhile AFL fever has gripped the Victorian Indian community. #IndianTigersRoar has been trending on the social media, with various Tiger’s AFL India ambassadors changing their Facebook profile and cover pictures in support of Tigers.

Various shops at the Selandra Rise Shopping Centre in Cranbourne have been decorated in Tiger colours. A Clyde farmer has also painted his cows in Tiger colours.

Richmond Tigers are planning to play a game in India pretty soon. And a victory in AFL grand final would provide a big commercial boost for Tiger’s entry into commercially lucrative Indian television audiences market.

The Tigers actively engage with Victorian Indian community. Recently they had partnered with FOSAI and IAEF for the India Day event, and are scheduled to start working with ISKCON Temple in Albert Park pretty soon.

 

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