Leesa Battistello joins husband Mat in South Warrnambool coaching ranks, makes Hampden league history

HISTORY MADE: South Warrnambool has a husband and wife leading its senior football and netball sides.
HISTORY MADE: South Warrnambool has a husband and wife leading its senior football and netball sides.

NEW South Warrnambool mentor Leesa Battistello has coaching inspiration in spades.

Leesa has signed on to lead the Roosters' open netball side, while other half Mat is the club's senior football coach.

The Battistellos are the first husband and wife pair in Hampden league history to lead a club's top-grade football and netball outfits.

It comes 18 years after they were last involved at the same club.

She'll have plenty of expertise to draw on - her sister is ex-professional netballer Sarah Wall - while Mat has almost a decade of coaching experience.

Leesa, a Dunnstown premiership coach, was thrilled to finally lead alongside her husband.

"It will be helpful, having kids and all," she said.

Coming back to Warrnambool for family reasons, it's been nice to connect our coaching at the same club.

Leesa Battistello

"I don't think we've been at the same club since we were at Terang in about 2002.

"In Ballarat, Mat was involved at TAC Cup level and I stayed to coach with my friends.

"Coming back to Warrnambool for family reasons, it's been nice to connect our coaching at the same club."

Leesa is best known for a eight-year stint as coach of Central Highlands outfit Dunnstown, which also yielded a league best and fairest.

She moved to Ballarat Swans in 2014 and lifted the Alfredton club from second-bottom to finals in the space of just one season.

She was proud to take on the role.

"I coached (Roosters midcourter) Ruby Wilson at Ballarat for years and she always spoke highly about South," Leesa said.

"I'd played against South in my younger years as well and coming home, just having had a new baby, I wanted to get involved at a place to make friends.

"I've already made friends I know I'll have forever. It's such a great, welcoming place."

South Warrnambool coach Mat Battistello. Picture: Christine Ansorge

South Warrnambool coach Mat Battistello. Picture: Christine Ansorge

Leesa was determined to continue building a "success culture" within South's netball ranks.

While new recruits were on the horizon, the non-playing coach revealed building from within was a key focus.

"South is a club with enormous potential," Leesa said.

EXCITED: New South Warrnambool coach Leesa Battistello is bullish about the club's future. Picture: Mark Witte

EXCITED: New South Warrnambool coach Leesa Battistello is bullish about the club's future. Picture: Mark Witte

"There's a lot of talent and we want to build a culture of success.

"We have one team in finals this year and next year we want all teams in finals.

"We want to have a presence."

Sarah Wall holding a clinic during Australian coach Lisa Alexander's visit to Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady

Sarah Wall holding a clinic during Australian coach Lisa Alexander's visit to Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady

Will Leesa call on her sister's expertise?

"She's always been a very big contributor to my coaching and has come to do a day of fitness and all those kind of things," she said.

"Every Thursday on the way to training I ring her and pick her brain."

This story Roosters' husband and wife make Hampden history first appeared on The Standard.