I was in conversation with a young coach from an opposition club on Wednesday and he was telling me how unbeatable his team is and how he feels he has a boy in Under 11 that will play AFL. I let him go, I smiled and nodded my head politely, he was on a roll. He gave me an overview of his top 5 players and said that they were the best 5 players in the SMJFL.
This conversation took me back to when I was a young coach in my 20s. I too was guilty of favouring my top 5-8 players. It took me a decade of coaching before I realised how poor I had been in my approach in developing all players left in my care. I finished the conversation with the coach by saying this: “Every child at any community based club, no matter what the sport, needs respect, assurance and equality. Children need a safe, happy and harmonious environment. The sport of football at times is irrelevant, it is the by-product of our choice. Coaching is 40% football and 60% life.”
The coach looked somewhat confused and went about his day; I don’t think it entered his mind what I had said.
I have witnessed every team play at Rovers in 2017, several many times, and each coach talk at either pre game or post game. I stand and listen to the message that is instilled into our children. It is one of encouragement & direction and we still have plenty of work to do. I guess the moral of my story above is that each player within our club is being developed by coaches that are planning in advance, sharing experience with players in all zones on the park, investing energy into children to help them feel welcome, respected and safe well before we educate on the art of footy. It’s the all-inclusive approach into training, social and holding group photos instead of team ones. I feel as a parent we as a club are heading in the right direction.
Here is a little evidence: Our Under 10 and Under 8 teams played on Boss James today on modified grounds, both teams won, our club is tight, all 40+ singing the club song. Congrats to Jimi Smyrk (in the centre) on playing his first ever game of football at Rovers. Well done Chris and Jonesy (coaches).
PASSION-TEAMWORK-FUN-RESPECT in abundance…
I was enjoying my time at the club Friday night at AHWTR and I sat down in the change rooms and watched players from our Under 11 and 12 teams playing table tennis. They were all talking it up and themselves. I loved just sitting there listening to great mates interact and enjoy each other’s company, this is what community clubs are about, I said to myself.
I watched Tim and Dave coaching the under 11s earlier Friday evening and these guys have created a great platform for developing players. The environment was one of encouragement, teaching with a strong twist of challenging the children also. Children need a challenge and the message sticks faster when a coach is able to show tangible examples of method training.
I always said I would never be an assistant coach again as I am set in my ways and feel I need things done a certain way, but when I had the chance to work alongside Mark ‘Bomber’ Riley I thought what a great chance to expand my mind from a guy that has spent 30 years at the pointy end of the elite circles within the AFL. I figured Bomber might employ many set plays, 16 zone structures, time V’s board mythology etc. How wrong was I. Bomber has 3 key areas he has instilled into the Under 15 group: stay on your feet, keep your lines and enjoy your football. Simple, he told me. In round 2 he said, “Caggs, never ask me to tag an opposition player, never ask me to flood, development is about learning to secure your own contested ball and use it to the betterment of your team”.
Simple. Bomber reinforced everything I love about our game, he does it in his own way and the boys respond to it. I hope our opposition coaches read this and adapt to some of Bomber’s learning also.
Sunday morning came around fast, with some injuries a concern for numbers in several age groups. Many a team manager and coach had early morning phone calls going to shore up numbers. I went down to see Ash Roberts’ under 12 Div 1 team play a half. The master coach had his charges chomping at the bit for a physical encounter that is always the way when playing St Bedes/Mentone. The midfield struggle was on from the first to last siren and the Rovers got the chocolates. The Under 12 Div 6 team went down in a tight well fought out encounter to the Waverley Hawks.
Our under 12 Girls team had their first win. What a moment! The Under 16 Girls went down in a tight encounter, my insider said the girls were upset and should have won.
Under 8 Purple coach Ian Jones’ report is Gold, “THE HALLOWED TURF” Love it.
The mighty Under 10 Silver came from behind after a slow start to take the lead after ¾ time, these guys never give in and work the angles and always look for space and support.
The Under 9 squad got just what the Doctor ordered: 2 defeats and several tears. The lads have been brought back to planet earth with a thud. Toby Clarkson was heard to tell people their team was ‘UNDEFEATABLE’ sorry Tobes, you are no longer ‘UNDEFEATABLE…
Martin Wells Under 13 Div 3 team won after being re-graded up and they saluted the crowd with a win at Castlefield. The Div 1 Under 13 team lost by 9 goals in a game that Mordi Brea caught our boys asleep.
The Under 16 Div 1 team ran out of numbers in a low scoring game. I watched the last half and had we had 18 players, we would have sung the songs.
Under 16 Div 2 were re-graded up from Div 3 and they found the pace hot and the skill level on the rise, I hope the league will allow them to go back into Div 3.
All 3 Under 15 teams won; Blue by plenty over St Bedes, Gold got over Mordi Brea and Div 4 got home over South Melbourne by the hair of their chinny chin chin.
The Under 14 lads never gave but went down to the Zebs by 30+ points.
Round 5 saw plenty of highlights and a few lowlights also. We need to keep encouraging our youth and sticking to the guidelines/rules and always showing respect to the umpires no matter what.
Have a great week everyone.