Calling all Weekend Warriors!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If you’re a Weekend Warrior, and especially if you’re a coach of Weekend Warriors, Deakin University’s Dr Andrew Dawson wants to hear from you.

In a research breakthrough for Australian sport, a team led by Dr Dawson is investigating the way coaches work at all levels of Australian sport.

“Obviously we can reach a lot of coaches through the Australian Sports Commission and through the national sporting associations, but there a lot of people out there who won’t be on any registry at all,” Dr Dawson said.

“They’re the parents who every Saturday morning look after a lot of under-age sport, helping out in coaching roles.

“Because this is such an all-inclusive survey, we want input from everyone from the elite coaches at the national level to those marvellous people who work away at the grass-roots level with little recognition apart from a thank you card and the box of chocolates from the kids and parents at the end of the season.

“We want to find out what resources they need and to do that, we really do need them to be part of this survey.

“So I am putting out the call now, take advantage of this unique opportunity to have your voice heard!”

The Australian Coaching Workforce Study seeks to profile coaches at all levels of sport to gain a better understanding of the parameters of coaching work, the personal and financial investments coaches make, how they are supported, and what is needed to further their development.

The study has the full support of legendary AFL coach, Kevin Sheedy.

“One of the reasons we set up the AFL Coaches Association was to provide support for what are sometimes the forgotten people of sport - the coaches,” he said.

“We’ve seen the enormous benefits to our game from educating our young coaches and then giving them the skills to better pass on that education.

“When I became a coach, there was no textbook, that’s why with David Parkin, Ron Barassi, Allan Jeans and Tom Hafey, I had to write the 500 Club a few years back, to record all that coaching knowledge so it could be handed down.

“Imagine the way we can improve Australia as a sporting country if we can start doing a better job of educating and assisting all those wonderful mums and dads out there coaching down at the grass roots.

“Already we’re a bit of a sporting miracle in this country, supporting four elite football competitions, being competitive in a whole range of other sports and then turning up at the Olympics every four years to let the world know about this island at the bottom of the world.

“We’ve achieved that through natural talent and some pretty clever sports science but we need to get even cleverer because the world is out there watching us and copying us.

“I reckon we’ll be being pretty clever if we can get our grass roots people working a lot smarter.”

Dr Dawson, who believes this is the first time such a study has targeted the work lives of Australian sports coaches, said that very early data is already hinting at a “startling” amount of work that they do beyond their face to face coaching role.

 “Coaches are the key performance managers in sport and yet we know little about the work they do beyond what we read or see in the media,” Dr Dawson said.

“Having spent the last seven years researching coaches’ careers across a range of sports it became clear that there’s a need for a system-wide view.”

He said the information gathered as part of the study would help sport policy makers and managers at national, state and community level to better direct often limited resources, while giving sports a chance to make evidence-based decisions about coach development.

“This research will also give coaches a voice about their work and their development, and already some of the interviews I’ve conducted are revealing the startling amount of work they do that you wouldn’t normally associate with coaching,” Dr Dawson said.

"We want to reach as many coaches as we can whether they’re accredited or not, coach full-time or part-time or in paid, part-paid or unpaid capacities."

Coaches of all levels and all sports are encouraged to complete the survey to assist in gaining a greater understanding of the work coaches do.

For more information about the survey contact Dr Andrew Dawson at Deakin University by phone (03) 9251 7309 or email

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