FORMER St Kilda coach and North Melbourne premiership AFL player Stan Alves spoke to a meeting of the Gippsland Football Coaches Association in Warragul in July.
Above: Stan Alves speaking in Warragul last week. Photo: author
First published in the 10 July 2015 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
He spoke after a presentation on the role of a coaching coordinator – a position some clubs have and which AFL Gippsland has encouraged clubs to consider.
The Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen spoke to Alves just before he addressed the coaches.
WBBC: You’re here to talk about your experience as a coach?
Alves: More about the importance of coaching juniors. Understanding the importance of the role to make sure that you get the right person to coach, and then more importantly to make sure you’ve got people to actually look after that person in coaching.
WBBC: What makes the right person?
Alves: It depends on the age group, it depends on who you’re coaching.
I think, first and foremost, is you identify who you’re coaching, what are the aims with the group, because you can be coaching Under 10s, you can be coaching Under 17s, Under 19s, and even senior football.
Within a club, for the club to actually identify ‘what do we want from that coach,’ they’ve got to be able to do that first. The person may come in, have fantastic qualifications, but walk into an environment where he’s (sic) never coached before and if you’re not sure of what you’re looking for, it can muck the whole system up.
I think that that’s the critical component – to have a club that has done its homework, just like [the coaching coordinator role,] so everyone understands their roles so when we look to the coach that person is given a clear mandate.
Also important is that [the coach] starts a succession plan, so if he’s (sic) coaching the Under 14s, when he’s finished them and they go on to the next group, that coach is then able to do that sort of stuff.
So much of junior footy is you go in with a passion, you love the game, but so many people do it because they might be the parent of a kid who’s doing it.”
WBBC: How hard is it to find a good coach?
Alves: I think there’s a lot of great people out there doing it, but as I said I think the first thing is to have a job description of what you’re looking for, because so often finding the right coach is knowing what you’re looking for.
If you’re taking a group of kids on, and the aims within their club is to teach them certain skill levels, and the major thing is not the winning and losing but is actually the development, they become better individually and collectively within a team.
But if you come and you don’t [think like that] you might fall in the trap of ‘I’ve got to win,’ so all of a sudden everything is based on the winning.
With juniors, you don’t always win, so what do you do to make it better?
But more importantly, from my point of view, you have to give them the good experience to want to stay in the game and come back week after week and next year.
It’s no different to, look, Carlton is looking for a coach. They have to identify… what they want from their playing group and do we want a development coach or do we want a coach who is going to win a premiership in two years?”
WBBC: You played for years before coaching St Kilda…
Alves: The first time I coached in my own right was an Under 14s team, before I coached St Kilda, and… I was totally unprepared.
I was totally ignorant of what was required. I had no direction. ‘Oh, you will be fantastic because you’ve played footy at that top level,’ but I wasn’t, and the club had no program.
WBBC: What are your thoughts on the coaching coordinator role?
Alves: Coaching is a difficult scenario, and when you get someone in make sure you have somebody to help them. So many things are required from a coach but you can’t do them all. You might think you can, but even at a junior level [it’s too much]. What you need is a coaching coordinator, somebody there who is able to provide a support network for that person at all levels.”
WBBC: You mentioned before keeping interest is important. What’s kept you interested?
Alves: Just watching people develop. I think for me now, coming out of it, when you see people develop individually and collectively, but also then create relationships that stay with you outside the game. Because for me, there are people I coached in Under 14 games who I still catch up with and there are kids I coached at St Kilda who I catch up with, and we talk not only about footy, but their life.
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