It is with great pleasure that I announce Mr Leo ‘Ledge’ Epifania as the winner of the prestigious Pratten Park Magpies Club Person of the Year Award.
Leo’s playing career is well documented but tonight we celebrate his achievements as Head Coach of various Wests Magpies teams.
Leo was appointed head coach of our Jersey Flegg side in 2004 and remained in that position until 2006. He had great success during those years developing the skills of the young men under his care and more importantly he helped them become better individuals.
In 2007 Leo was appointed Head Coach of our NSW Cup side. He remained in that position until the end of the 2011 season. Leo’s boys reached the semi finals each year, with the exception of 2011.
In 2008 and 2010 Leo’s boys reached the grand final qualifier before going down to Newtown Jets and Canterbury Bulldogs respectively in close encounters.
In 2011 the team missed out by a single point of making the semi finals.
In 2012 Leo was appointed as an Assistant Coach of the newly formed Wests Tigers NSW Cup Team. He took on this role as our Club wanted equal representation within the coaching ranks. Leo provided invaluable assistance to the Head Coach Paul Fletcher. The team marched into the 2012 Grand Final before going down to the Newtown Jets 22 points to 18.
In 2013 Ledge returned to the Magpie nest to coach Wests Magpies Ron Massey Cup team. With one round left in the regular season the Magpies are guaranteed a spot in the semi final series. The highlight of the season to date is undoubtedly winning six games in a row with five of those wins against higher placed teams.
Loyalty, integrity, honesty, the ability to build up trust in his team mates, commitment, never say die attitude, not being prepared to accept a ‘close enough is good enough’ attitude in areas of team performance, training facilities or team building. Leo will never turn his back on his team or his friends, no matter how difficult the situation. His record shows that he has turned good rugby league players under his charge into NRL regulars.
I am sure no one appreciates the fact that Leo spends countless hours, often into the early hours going over every aspect of his team’s performance before coming up with ideas and solutions to make things better. He sits down with individual players to improve their skills. His hand on approach to coaching is legendary which ensures he enjoys the respect of his peers.
Leo’s record as a head coach should be celebrated. He has worked unbelievably hard to develop players and raise the image of our great Club. His understanding of the game is second to none. His tactical knowledge is up there with the best of them and we all hope that one day he is given the opportunity of progressing to the elite NRL level as no one deserves the opportunity more than Leo. We should all do more to make this happen.
In closing, I would like to paraphrase the comments of a couple of Magpie individuals who stated (when referring to Leo’s role as Head Coach):
‘HE BROUGHT CREDIBILITY BACK TO THE CLUB’
‘WE TRUST LEO’
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our 2013 Pratten Park Magpies Club Person of the Year’, Mr Leo Epifania.