Diversity on Display in Townsville

Friday, April 15, 2016

An AFL Diversity Coaching Academy was conducted during the AFL National Diversity Championships in Townsville last week.

As part of the Championship’s program, where daily education sessions were provided for the players of the participating teams, their coaching staff were also engaged in formal coaching development activities.

Following the Opening Ceremony on Sunday evening, the coaches and team managers were briefed about the expected playing philosophies of the Championship’s and how the Coaching Academy would be conducted throughout the week.

In line with other Championships and programs in the AFL Talent Pathway, it was agreed that the National Diversity Championships would be coached and played according to the agreed national philosophies aimed at providing an environment that best develops and showcases each individual’s talents regardless of shape or size.

The 28 participating coaches were given an AFL Diversity Coaching Academy Program booklet which contained small daily gaol setting and development activities to fill in, and sections to keep notes from the education sessions and record their progress as coaches throughout the week.

The Academy program was managed by AFL Coaching Development Manager, Lawrie Woodman and presented with experienced mentor coaches Brian Royal, (A Western Bulldogs Hall of Fame player, with 20 years in AFL coaching ranks) and Ron Watt (Member Services Manager at the AFL Coaches Association and former Geelong player, VFL Coach and Player Development Manager).

Throughout the week, the Academy staff coaches observed the team coaches in action during designated matches, including pre-game activities, game time, breaks and post-match operations. Specific feedback and mentoring was provided to team coaches after each match and at other times throughout the week.

The formal education program, conducted in two hour blocks on three mornings of the Championships included presentations and group discussions on a range of relevant coaching topics presented at Level 2 standard, including a major sequence presented by Brian Royal across the 3 days of the formal program. Brian’s package included:
• Coaching Roles, Responsibilities & Philosophy,
• Managing People (building relationships) & Communication
• Game Plans – Basic Principles, Practicing the game plan, Stoppage structures.

In the major exercise to complete the program on day 3, Brian set up four team coaching groups (with a member from each state) to respond to four specific game plan scenarios he presented.  Each group was required to plan their method of effectively playing the scenario and then react to “opposition“ reactions to their set up. This produced an excellent response and good level of discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each response and the fact that potentially you have to “give up an advantage to gain one”.

The formal sessions also included discussion about some of the practical coaching issues they were encountering day to day at the Championships – “What have you learnt so far? What will you do differently today?”

AFL Diversity Manager, Ali Fahour, discussed the opportunities flowing from the program, including involvement at the next level of competition with the Flying Boomerangs and World Team at the U16 National Championships and Ron Watt presented on the pathway to coaching in an AFL club.

Group discussions on practical topics assisted the coaches from the various teams to get to know each other and start to form networks which will assist them in various ways into the future.

The coaches’ responses to the education sessions and ongoing mentoring resulted in significant changes in coaching structures and operations for all teams as the week progressed. The coaches will return to their regular coaching roles better equipped for their roles and to pursue their ongoing development.
At the end of the Championships, the team coaches for the Flying Boomerangs and the World Team were announced.

The AFL Flying Boomerangs will be coached by Jermaine Davis (WA), with Shannon Motlop (NT), Peter Yagmoor (QLD), and Peter Mongta (VIC) named as assistants.

The World Team who will be coached by David Rodan (VIC). Patrick Karnezis (VIC), Anda Tyalana (QLD), and Tony Olango (NT) will be assistant coaches.

Best wishes to those coaches as they take their involvement in the AFL diversity Program to the next level.



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