Coach star-struck with tall recruit
THE eyes of CQ Cougars coach Joe Fenech lit up when latest recruit Gerard Ouffoue stepped from the plane and sauntered into the Rockhampton Airport passenger terminal yesterday.
The French-born striker has come to Central Queensland to try out for the Cougars Queensland State League side this year and the size of the man was enough to excite the coach without even seeing Ouffoue kick a football.
Standing at about 193cm (6'4"), Ouffoue has the frame most coaches would choose for the perfect striker.
Like Rudi Mozr and Jan Urban, who arrived on Monday to trial with the team, Ouffoue has spent time playing for Sydney University in the New South Wales competition.
"I have been in Australia about a year," he said.
The good news is he likes the country and intends to become an Australian citizen within the next 12 months.
"I played with Troy (Ruthven) in Sydney and we kept in touch," he said.
Ouffoue, who is an accountant, began playing in football-mad France, progressing through the ranks before joining professional club FC Metz.
However, an injury ended that particular journey for the striker.
"I broke an ankle," he said.
Now he is keen and ambitious once more and ready to put himself on view to hopefully get picked up by one of the A-League clubs.
Over the years Ouffoue has been a regular goal-scorer but admitted he didn't accumulate a large tally at Sydney University.
"I didn't score a lot of goals there but I didn't play a lot," he said.
Over the next week Ouffoue will train with the Cougars and play in the match at Blackwater against Emerald Eagles.
If all goes to plan he will return to Sydney and then bring his partner to Rockhampton for the football season.
More good news for Fenech and the Cougars is that Michael Cay will be available for the 2012 season.
The talented midfielder was set to leave Rockhampton and join the Sunshine Coast QSL squad after being transferred through his work.
However, Cay has since been told he no longer needs to leave the area and will remain in Rockhampton, a big boost for the Cougars.
Fenech can not be accused of neglecting his other position, as the appointee of Football Queensland as regional development officer for CQ.
Over the weekend he was in Emerald and Blackwater putting "grass roots" coaches through their paces.
"It is good, as we now have 20 coaches in Emerald and Blackwater to start working with the under-eights," he said.
In March he hopes to continue the coaching path by helping grass roots level coaches up-grade to junior licence holders.
Yesterday he was set to carry out further work in country areas, this time at Calliope, but that plan was put on hold because of heavy rainfall.
"I've also been to Gladstone about 12 times already," the coach said.
Last night Fenech was set to drive around clubs in Rockhampton and introduce himself, see what they are working on, and possibly assist with a coaching session.
Fenech said the clubs and their presidents had been very receptive to what he was doing in the area.