Fin is one of the youngest coaches in our team at XLR8 at just 18 years of age, but has already made a strong start in his coaching career. Having worked across many of our holiday clinics and In-Club programs throughout 2019, Fin welcomed the new year by completing his C Licence under the tutelage of NSFA Technical Director Jason Eagar!
What is your favourite team and who is your favourite player?
My favourite team is Arsenal and my favourite player is Santi Cazorla.
Tell us about your journey within football and what initially got you involved in coaching?
I started playing at St Ives Football Club when I was 7. I loved it so much and spent the next 5 years trying to be better than all my friends. At U13s I was selected for the NSFA AYL representative team, where I was made Captain, playing with a group of my best friends from Killara High School. In U15s I had the opportunity to join Northern Tigers, but decided to play out the last year in the AYL competition before our team was dissolved. Playing with all of my school mates and travelling to Griffith for away games was something that had become worth more to me than playing at the highest level I could.
Since then I have moved to West Pymble and furthered my love for football by playing for and against my friends whilst winning a couple trophies along the way. My journey into coaching started with my sister’s U14Bs Lindfield Diamond League team. I had done volunteer coaching with Brendan Dalton at Lindfield prior, but really got hooked coaching the 14s. My coaches have always been role models to me and people I look up to. Being able inspire and develop trust with groups of people is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of coaching. I always strive to build positive relationships with my players and do my best to help them get the most out of themselves both on and off the pitch.
Who’s been your biggest influence within football coaching – and why?
I have had the unique opportunity at XLR8 to learn from dozens of the NSFA’s best coaches. I am constantly picking up lessons and styles, different attitudes, skills, perspectives from every coach I have had the opportunity to coach with and around. And then of course there are the players who teach me new things about myself and about my coaching every single session, conversation, email – always.
The single most influential coach for me a far has been Eilidh Mackay. A lot of understanding how to coach others comes from understanding to coach yourself. Eilidh has really helped me ground myself as a coach in my “why”, and helped to channel my perspectives and ambitions in something that is cohesive and powerful. Being able to connect and understand that who I am as a person is reflected in my coaching and being able to use that to constantly push myself and develop has been unreal.
Why do you coach with XLR8 and what do you love most about coaching?
XLR8 has the greatest football culture I have every been a part of. I constantly feel supported as a coach and a person, and the opportunities to develop myself are unmatched. The team of coaches we have are all phenomenal and inspiring people and coaches, and the energy that radiates on and off the pitch is great to be a part of.
For me as a young ambitious coach, looking to make a career in coaching, being able to soak up the wealth of wisdom from experienced coaches and people on the same path as me, has made XLR8 the perfect place to be. The thing I love most about coaching is the ability to not only share but uncover a genuine and holistic love for football with other people. Football is a place I feel safe, challenged, loved, rewarded, connected, ecstatic and at peace all at the same time. Also, I like to help others develop that relationship with football and within themselves. You can’t beat it!
Describe a moment that has challenged you as a coach, and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges for me was working out how I wanted to connect with my players. When I started coaching – especially as I was only a few years older than the players – I found it difficult to earn their respect and get them to listen. That was frustrating because I wanted to build their love for football, I didn’t want to just tell them about mine. I overcame this by not trying to be an authoritative figure like some coaches are, but rather by being much more of a leader and friend. This was something that came much more naturally and allowed me to really be myself on the pitch.
As a result, my coaching is now so authentic and honest to who I am as a person, it has allowed me to really connect with all the players I coach, from 4 to 16 years of age. Due to this, both the players and I have enjoyed positive and respectful relationships with each other and with football.
What would be your advice to coaches and players that strive to improve themselves?
Reflection! This is 100% the most important part to development. Find out the reason you’re doing something – your “why” – and then every time you work towards it reflect on yourself and your work. Ultimately when your progress is able to reflect your “why” holistically, that is true success and will allow you to develop honestly and effectively.
In one word describe your role as a coach?