|What are you most excited about for the 2022 Grassroots Football Season?
For me, it’s seeing the smiles on all the participants faces as we head into 2022. Unfortunately, everyone involved has had two seasons which have been affected. However, looking forward, to see the genuine smiles, love of football and the happiness of players, parents, volunteers, coaches, referees and others is fantastic to play a small part of. I’m also looking forward to being a part of the fantastic XLR8 team as a whole and leading the junior football programs for Chatswood Rangers. It’s a fantastic culture within the Chatswood Rangers Football Club and I really enjoy leading a team of coaches, to help them improve but more importantly, to see the players involved loving their footballing experience.
Tell us about your journey within football and what initially got you involved in coaching?
I started playing when I was 6 years old with friends for the local football team, Beacon Hill. I continued playing for local teams, Beacon Hill and Collaroy Cromer Strikers for around 12 years. At 17, I had done a couple of the community coaching licenses so took up coaching the CC Strikers U11/1’s team in that season. I thought coaching would be easy but alas, coaching isn’t quite as easy as it may seem. It was a huge and vast learning experience and working with those players improved me as a coach quickly.
I coached with CC Strikers for a few years before getting the opportunity to do my C License qualification and then get the opportunity to be involved with the Manly United girls and women’s program the following year. This was great and, again, allowed me to improve very quickly as a coach, working with high quality players who really had the desire and aptitude to improve. I stayed within the Manly United and MWFA AYL set up for 4.5 years before in 2021 (alongside working for XLR8 for almost 2 years in 2019 and 2020), taking the step away from that program to further be involved with XLR8 as a Programs Technical Director in 2021. I absolutely loved this change, and it is something that I am so appreciative that I was offered the position and that I took it on, as it was a fantastic 2021 season.
Who’s been your biggest influence within football coaching – and why?
For me, it’s my sister. She has worked at a high level of football, both domestically and internationally. This has seen her coaching at Sydney FC Academy as a coach, as well as being involved with the Matildas as their Technical Analyst and in an A-League environment as Head of Analysis as well. I’m lucky to be able to call on her for any advice that I may have and any questions, as she’s always very helpful to me.
However, having said my sister as my biggest influence, I’ve had so many more amazing influences within my football coaching. Everyone at XLR8 and the NSFA, namely Jake Stephenson, Chris Adams and previously Nick Marr, alongside so many others, have been amazing! They’ve always been so helpful and have a genuine passion in football and seeing the sport prosper.
If I kept going, the list would probably grow to 15-20 people though.
Why do you coach with XLR8 and what do you love most about coaching?
For me, XLR8 is an amazing environment to be a part of. It is collectively about growing and giving the best possible experience to all players involved in each program, whether that’s team coaching, collaborative coaching, holiday camps, skills and sapphires programs, etc.
XLR8 is like no other program that I have been a part of. There is a comradeship and genuine desire to see everyone do well, working with each individual to improve and grow as much as they can, which few programs in this country are able to offer. The fact that I am able to play a small part in that by leading coaches on and off the ground is something that I love doing.
My love of coaching comes from some of the experiences that I’ve had and to see the players that I have the opportunity and privilege of coaching enjoying themselves. Quite often for me, my proudest moments haven’t come from an on-field action but players confiding in me about things away from the pitch. This for me has shown that I’ve built a team spirit and a safe space to be vulnerable for the players, which has in turn, seen better enjoyment and better on field results and playing standards. The passion for coaching continues growing all the time and I love being involved within the NSFA/XLR8 full time.
In one word describe your role as a coach?
This is a mantra of mine to always try to be as supportive as possible to people involved, whether that’s players, coaches, volunteers, referees and so many other fantastic people involved in this wonderful sport. For me, people enjoying their football experience as a whole is the most important aspect of it all.