What is your favourite team and who is your favourite player?
My favourite team is Arsenal and favourite player is Mesut Ozil. I love the way that he plays his football.
Tell us about your journey within football and what initially got you involved in coaching?
I started playing for my local club, Beacon Hill FC, at the age of 7 as I had a lot of friends who played there. I was at Beacon Hill for 7 years and then changed to another local club, Collaroy Cromer Strikers FC, for 4 years. At that stage, I gave playing away and took up coaching the U11 Division 1 team. I thought at the time that as I had been playing Division 1 that I’d be able to coach but how wrong and naïve I was, that it would just come naturally. I learned a lot that season and it helped me along my coaching journey as it just showed me how much I needed to learn. After that, I co-coached a few different teams and juggling two teams at once with one of my biggest influences in my football coaching, my sister.
Who has been your biggest influence within football coaching – and why?
I have had a lot of influences in my football coaching journey. I have learnt a lot from my coaching course instructors- Robbie Hooker, Warren Grieve, Chris Adams and Drew Taylor, which I have been very lucky to have had such highly considered football coach educators. I have also learnt a lot in my time with Manly United with Richard Lacey and Alex Brazete, and technical director, Andrew Christiansen, for the last couple of years.
However, perhaps my biggest influence and learning experiences have come from my sister, Kate Cohen. She has a wonderful football brain, which now sees her working with the Matildas technical staff currently, as the Senior Technical Analyst, with Ante Milicic, Ivan Jolic and Mel Andreatta. She previously coached at Sydney FC Academy as well, under Kelly Cross.
Why do you coach with XLR8 and what do you love most about coaching?
I enjoy coaching within the community space, and seeing fellow coaches learn and develop but more importantly, make sure their players are having fun and improving. XLR8 allows me to try to help fellow coaches through our Collaborative Coaching Program and in club programs.
I’ve really enjoyed my time with XLR8 for a number of reasons; seeing the football community thrive, the amount of effort that the NSFA put into the programs and also being able to work with such an array of coaches and players across the different programs. It has been fantastic!
Describe a moment that has challenged you as a coach, and how did you overcome it?
Coaching throws up lots of challenges and new experiences. Probably the biggest challenge I have faced was my first year of coaching and just being so green in what I was doing. Actually having to design sessions, think about ensuring the kids were having fun and learning and that improvement was occurring. It was a big learning experience, as I said above, but I tried to learn as much as I could as quickly as possible to make sure I was always constantly learning myself and becoming a better coach for the players.
What would be your advice to coaches and players that strive to improve themselves?
Always try to take in as much information as you can. Don’t just limit yourself to a couple of sources of information but read widely, watch as much football as you can, study the best coaches in the world in different sports and just absorb as much information as you can. Once you have done that, and it is always constantly evolving, develop your own style and be true to yourself. If you are not authentic, you will get found out and players will not buy into what you are saying, as no matter the age, players are smart!
As for players improving themselves, same as coaches. Try to practice as much as possible. Train with better players so you are being forced to develop through quicker decision making, harder opponents, etc. If you want to make it, there is no reason to try to stop improving.
In one word, describe your role as a coach.