Coaching legend Juan Propato was named the South West Coach of the Year in the Wally Foreman Award.

Winner: Coaching legend Juan Propato was named the South West Coach of the Year in the Wally Foreman Award. Picture: Supplied.
Winner: Coaching legend Juan Propato was named the South West Coach of the Year in the Wally Foreman Award. Picture: Supplied.

South West soccer coaching legend Juan Bautista Propato said it was "one of the happiest days of my life", when he was named Coach of the Year.

At an awards night he took out the South West Academy of Sport Western Australia Wally Foreman Award.

Mr Propato started his football career playing for River Plate in his homeland of Argentina, before turning his focus towards helping other athletes develop their skills.

"I achieved my dream," he said.

His playing and coaching career has taken him all over the world, with New Zealand, Germany, Belgium and Cuba on the list of places he's visited over the last 23 years.

Now living in Busselton, Mr Propato is the Football West's Head of Development in the South West, and is head of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Soccer Association.

Having fun: South West Coach of the Year Juan Propato said the most important thing is for players to enjoy it. Picture: Supplied.

Having fun: South West Coach of the Year Juan Propato said the most important thing is for players to enjoy it. Picture: Supplied.

Mr Propato currently helps other coaches to improve their coaching, which is his way of helping as many athletes as he can.

"Good coaching means the players keep playing," Mr Propato said.

"It's important, my work with the coaches. They coach over 1200 players, while I can only coach 15 to 20 kids at at time.

"That's why my main focus is building better coaches, helping the community and clubs and helping the association."

When asked about his advice for other coaches, Mr Propato said the most important thing is for players to have fun.

"The number one thing for me is enjoying it and having fun. Players have to have fun, you need to ensure it," he said.

Top coach: Juan Propato says putting in the effort is important, no matter if you're winning or losing. Picture: Supplied.

Top coach: Juan Propato says putting in the effort is important, no matter if you're winning or losing. Picture: Supplied.

At the awards night, Mr Propato was one of ten finalists nominated across multiple sports including AFL, cricket, netball, basketball.

"Many times I go to the awards of my players, we never win. Aussie Rules usually cleans up. So making it on the final list, I thought this is a win, already," he said.

"I closed my eyes when the lady said, 'and the winner is'.

"I couldn't believe it."

A key theme of the awards night was that even if you have talent, hard work will beat talent every time, which is something Mr Propato said is crucial.

"Any sport can open the opportunity for you to travel the world and meet new people. But it all comes back to doing your homework, putting in the effort," he said.

Winner: Coach of the Year Juan Propato said he 'couldn't believe it' when he received the prestigious award. Picture: Supplied.

Winner: Coach of the Year Juan Propato said he 'couldn't believe it' when he received the prestigious award. Picture: Supplied.

"We want a healthy community in our sports, winning or losing, staying humble."

"Whatever you want to do, go for it. Try your best and at the end of the day, if you're not successful at that, you will be successful in one way or another."

Mr Propato said the award should also go to the South West community who made him feel at home.

"It's always hard coming to a new country, you don't know anyone," he said.

"The community and the committee made me feel at home, they put in a lot of work. I get paid to do what I love to do, they don't get paid one cent.

"So it's a recognition of them as well. They gave it to me but they gave it to all of us, really."