Jack and Pete, both of Lane Cove FC were awarded the NSFA Coaching Scholarship in partnership with LCFC in 2018. Since receiving their scholarships, both have been extremely involved in Lane Cove FC, particularly bringing experience and energy to their Club Coach Coordinator roles.
What motivated you to try coaching and what do you enjoy most about it?
I played football for 14 years for my local club, Avoca FC on the Central Coast. I worked my way through the junior system and eventually made it all the way to the dizzying heights of honest-and-hardworking-reserve-grade-fullback. After a few decent ankle rolls and a back problem for good measure, Monday mornings became increasingly difficult to navigate in my old age (nineteen). So, with real-life commitments such as work and university becoming increasingly prevalent, I decided to hang up the boots.
Fortunately, I still loved the game. Having been a part of Avoca for so many years, I thought coaching would be a good way to ‘give back’ and stay in touch with the club. My motivations at the time were mostly to develop leadership skills and contribute to the local community, and I didn’t necessarily have aspirations to coach at a higher level. My first role was with a SAP team, before taking on the clubs Under 16’s side the following year. Taking the 16’s was my first big jump into coaching and it is probably where my interests and intrigue for football became a genuine obsession. As a squad, they did very well, winning the league and getting to play at Central Coast Stadium. However, the thing that stays with me most is the opportunity that coaching gave me to contribute to not only their football learning but their development into intelligent, young men. Several of these players have gone on to play first team football for the club, which is something that I am grateful to have contributed to and something that continues to motivate me today.
How did you become more involved in the LCFC CCC program?
As many young Coastie’s do when they feel like spending all their money on rent and sitting in traffic more often, two years ago I made the move to Sydney. Without a club and looking for a new challenge, I saw an online advertisement from Lane Cove Football Club, who were looking for a coach to take their Mens All Age 2 squad into their first season as a team. Although things didn’t quite go to plan on the field, the experience and the knowledge I gained coaching senior football was invaluable. The club, and in particular President Steve Prescott, were incredibly supportive and facilitated my learning and development as a young coach. At the end of my first season with Lane Cove, the club nominated me for the NSFA Coaching Scholarship, which I was pleased and grateful to receive from the Association.
Having completed the practical component of the C-Licence coaching course during the off-season, the club then encouraged me to contribute to player development through the CCC program. Guided by Brett Jager, our CCC team has grown to four members, which has allowed us provide coaching workshops, information evenings and general support for all of our volunteer coaches. The NSFA have been fantastic in providing resources and guidance for our CCC team. Most importantly, it has been a fantastic opportunity to be able to contribute to the collaborative culture that the program has facilitated between the Association’s clubs.
Can you describe the LCFC club way?
A key objective of our CCC team this year has been to define Lane Cove’s culture, aspirations and playing philosophy, in order to set short- and long-term objectives for all of our coaches. At the centre of this philosophy is the “Lane Cove Way” – six club values that we presented to our coaches at our first coach education evening during pre-season. These values are: Play with Respect, Make it Fun, Always Encourage, Learn Together, Play Positive Football & Love Sport for Life. Our CCC team believe that these values will create a path towards an inclusive and encouraging environment that young children can enjoy regardless of their previous experience or skill level. Our long term goal is to have all Lane Cove teams – from discovery phase all the way through to performance phase – play in a recognisably fair and sporting manner that encourages risk-taking and positive ‘problem solving’ football, all while still having fun with their mates.
Adaptation is a key skill of a coach, can you outline a moment in your coaching career when this has been applied?
As football is a dynamic sport, both during games and week-to-week, as coaches we need to be very agile and adapt to a variety of scenarios and contexts. One time that comes to mind for me is when I lost two or my strongest players due to injury in one game. We were battling as it was, and this threw up a few opportunities – but I didn’t realise this immediately. Losing the key players changed some of our style of play and ways we were going to try to score. It presented me with the opportunity to give other players with different skill sets the opportunity to play different roles in the side.
I had to adapt my processes and approach to match the new skill set of these incoming players, so rather than looking to move the ball quickly to isolate our stronger players so they were one-on-one with defenders, we needed to play to the shorter passing range and more zonal defensive strategy. By losing the stronger players, it made me modify the style of play and team goals of my team, which actually gave us more success (winning all games the injured players missed) and gave these new players belief and confidence. It actually made me think differently about the how/what/why if each training session and the way in which I approached each game.
How do you want to help and support LCFC coaches in the future?
I’d like to provide help build the knowledge of coaches and make them feel supported whilst on their football journey. To do this, I will try to provide support and guidance, as well as being a sound-board for those who want to discuss things or try new things and take positive risks with their teams.
How has teaching and coaching combined to benefit you moving forwards?
Teaching puts me in a lucky position with regards to coaching. Understanding the cognitive capacity of young players as well as the way they learn differently has enabled me to plan, deliver and modify the things I do in my coaching, so as to meet the individual needs, interests and abilities of players of different ages. I’m lucky that in my teaching, I’m able to use TGfU approaches, which has married nicely with my coaching and provided me with some additional expertise and ideas when looking to maintain the challenge and integrity of certain teaching and learning activities that are aligned with the great game of football.