We interview XLR8 coach Saoirse Cobbe and learn more about her path to becoming a XLR8 coach.
What is your favourite team and who is your favourite player?
My favourite team is Barcelona FC as I visited the Camp Nou a few years ago and being able to watch them play, see how they move the ball and the way in which the crowd reacts was great to see.
My favourite player is Vivianne Miedema. She plays for The Netherlands and for Arsenal in the Women’s Super League. She played a large role in the Netherlands Euro Championship win in 2017, as well as in Arsenal’s winning Super League team in 2018/2019. As she is only a few years older than me it is very impressive to see what she has achieved in her career.
Tell us about your journey within football and what initially got you involved in coaching?
I joined Lane Cove Football Club at aged 5 and played there for 6 years and was fortunate to have a really good coach who encouraged me to go further with my footballing ability. This led me to being selected for the Northern Tigers Development team when I was 9 years old and then being selected to play for the Northern Tigers U12’s Girls representative team the following year. I played for the Northern Tigers for 9 years before I stopped playing last year to focus on coaching.
While playing at the Northern Tigers a friend persuaded me to attend a coaching course with her during the school holidays. I found it very interesting and really enjoyed it and was offered a coaching position at the NSFA Football School where I started doing school holiday coaching which I enjoyed. The Football School then became XLR8 and the expanded program gave me more opportunities to coach and increase my learning and gave me my first coaching role with the Chatswood U14G team. This then led me to coach the Northern Tigers U12 Girls SAP in 2019 and this year I am coaching both the Northern Tigers U11 Girls SAP and Kissing Point U13A’s.
Who’s been your biggest influence within football coaching – and why?
The biggest coaching influences are Eilidh Mackay, Nick Marr and Ed Ferguson as they are the people that pushed me into coaching and believed in me at the beginning when I didn’t think I would be a good coach. They pushed me to get coaching licenses, take on new teams and pushed me out of my comfort zone. They assist me when I need to improve my sessions or the way I communicate with my players. These three, especially Eilidh, have been a big part of my coaching journey and I appreciate the guidance and help they provide.
Why do you coach with XLR8 and what do you love most about coaching?
I coach with XLR8 because it is the leading coaching program within the Northern Suburbs. As XLR8 has such a large area to cover I am able to coach across multiple clubs and provide coaching assistance whether that’s to teams, other coaches or skill programs. This allows me to do different forms of coaching and expand my coaching knowledge and different experiences. The other coaches at XLR8 are brilliant and it makes it very enjoyable to be with them as part of the coaching team.
What I love most about coaching is being able to see the players learn and complete a skill that they were not confident with and watch them learn and improve. It’s rewarding when the first thing they say to you at the start of training session is that they learnt a new skill or set a new juggling record and they wanted to tell me. Also seeing players learn and become more confident in their abilities throughout the season is very rewarding.
Describe a moment that has challenged you as a coach, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was my first coaching role as the coach of the Chatswood Rangers U14G team. Until then they had been coached by a volunteer parent and were a very good team but the club felt they needed a new coach to take them to the next level as they were nominated to play in the NFSA Diamond league. I was able to draw on my playing experience with the Northern Tigers and my coaching resources to provide a greater skill level during training sessions which led to the girls winning games and ultimately winning the league.
I think that once the girls saw the technical level of the drills and could execute them, they realised that having me as a new coach helped make them better players.
What would be your advice to coaches and players that strive to improve themselves?
Research and learn new things, be open to new ideas and think outside the zone you are in as there are lots of different systems and ways to do things so be open to everything. There are lots of resources online, YouTube, newsletters and programs you can sign up for that can all provide nuggets of information you can use to be a better coach.
In one word describe your role as a coach.
My role as a coach is to inspire players and individuals to enjoy playing football and to improve their skills and confidence as part of that. As a coach I want to inspire players to enjoy playing and to continue to play no matter their level. I also want to show girls that there are opportunities to be a coach and to stay involved in football whether that is playing or coaching.