PORT Macquarie could soon be a recognised rowing location if Barney Bene has his way.
The 28-year-old Hungarian coach will return to Europe before the end of the year to finish off a university teaching degree.
But he's already pencilled in what he plans to do on his return to the Hastings in 12 months' time.
He's got high hopes for the region. What he's seen in a two-year stay is enough to provide plenty of optimism about the future.
Improving junior development is high on his wishlist although it won't be the only focus as he attempts to bring Port Macquarie in line with other locations around the country.
A learn to row program and subsequent relationship was formed with St Columba Anglican School earlier this year which is the first step on the path to the top.
Now the challenge is to keep growing the program.
"We started in February with 12 kids already and I'm working on that to get it going," Bene said.
"By the time I come back I can take over again and then put Port Macquarie on the rowing map in Australia.
"Sydney and the big cities have schools with 40-50 kids in them and they have done it for the last 50-70 years so there is a bit of work to catch up on, but we have the best conditions to do it in Port.
"The river is a 10-minute drive from every school so it's easy to access."
Bene knows, however, that the quickest way for the region to be recognised around the country was to build on successful results such as they had last week.
The crew of Tom Jenkins and Isaiah Chandler headed to the Edward Trickett NSW grade championships on April 17-18 at Penrith where they picked up a gold medal in the double scull.
They also finished third and fourth in the single scull.
"This was a huge success because they only started rowing six or seven months ago and they were rowing against big boys who had been rowing for 5-10 years," Bene said.
"I was expecting them to make a final but I couldn't imagine them winning it which was amazing."
They can't relax on their results and Bene wants it to be the first of many.
"In rowing you have to be passionate and determined every morning to get up at 5am and come down to row before school or work," he said.
"But what we are trying to do is build up our junior base but also give options to their parents, siblings, relatives or friends so we are coaching and training adults as well."
After becoming president of the club last year, Bene said he felt the need to give back to the community after they had welcomed him into the town.
"I could say that I'm going to be here for six months and then chill and relax, but I feel like I should do something more because I feel like I've got a lot from this club personally," he said.
"Older members have supported me and I know I'm from Hungary, but they took me in like a friend.
"I want to give back."
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