At some point in your parenting life, the little person you made will come home from whatever sport they are passionate about and ask you to be their coach.
With five children, my Dad coached, Netball, Hockey, Soccer, League and Rugby Union. And if I’d asked him, I’m pretty sure he would have attempted to coach cheerleading as well, such was his love of sport, his kids, and being involved in both.
It didn’t matter that he wasn’t trained or even knew the rules, he would buy the books, watch other coaches and jump right in. I can proudly say, seeing my Dad run up and down fields, spending time with him, and sharing the occasional win with him at the helm of my teams are to this day some of my fondest memories.
But signing up to be a coach doesn’t come without its problems. Other parents might think you are not giving their child enough attention, you may not have ever coached before, and we are all busier than before, so finding parents willing to sign on for the challenge is a challenge itself.
But Olympic gold medalist Giaan Rooney has the answer. She has thrown her support behind a free online training program from the Australian Sports Commission which aims to build the skills of people involved in, or thinking about, coaching.
I caught up with her to prepare myself. I’m sure at some point in the future I’ll be running up and down a netball field yelling, “Kick it to Millie… or throw it… or something…”
You can see why I need help.
It’s so lovely to talk to you, Giann. I don’t think we’ve had a chat since you’ve become a mamma; congratulations on your little man!
Oh, thank you very much! It’s all going well, I can’t complain.
So is he a good baby?
Well, we did have to go to sleep school, but since then he’s been an absolute dream child.
And so now you’re getting sleep again you’re able to throw your energy into other things, and you’re doing that with online coaching
Yeah, you know, we were talking about my little bub and so many people have been asking me, ‘Can you teach my kids to swim?’ And I thought, no, I don’t have that ability because someone else taught me.
I think a lot of parents get roped into being the coach of their child’s sporting team because there’s no one else available, but we don’t really know what we’re doing. So this is a great initiative from the sports commission to give parents who’ve been roped into coaching the ability to know what they’re doing and have confidence along the way and also to enjoy it. It’s a great free online community tool.
Do you think Australians are playing less sport? Are we getting lazy?
I don’t think we’re getting lazy, I just think we’re busier than we’ve been before. And I think people are used to exercising alone, like going for a jog. We’re not used to team sports. I think we’d like to see an incline in numbers!
I was really lucky in the sports I played when I was younger because I had really great coaches and for me they were a huge part of the motivation. They’d work out the ways for me to get the best out of myself and I loved going and showing my coaches what I could do. I think my coaches will play a role in the sports I play for the rest of my life.
You’ve hit the nail on the head. Just like your favourite teacher at school, you remember your best coach for the rest of your life.
I was watching an amazing video online the other day, its about a girl who was diagnosed with MS at just 16 and she liked to run. MS did something really unusual to her, if she started running she would stop feeling her legs, but she was able to keep running, which was very strange. But what would happen is when she made it to the finish line she’d collapse because her brain told her to stop, but her coach wanted her to keep on running so he would stand at the finish line and catch her as she fell, and then he’d carry her off to the side line where they put her body on ice.
It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve seen, and it’s all about a coach who not only believed in a girl but wanted to continue helping her overcome the disease.
A great coach has the ability to shape and mold their charges’ lives, and we all remember great coaches. I am so grateful to my coaches for what they’ve enabled me to do. I have a fantastic coach here in Melbourne who figured out, just by looking at me when I walked in, how hard he could push me on that given day by my body language.
So if you’re interested in Community Coach, how do you find out more?
Look, its very easy — just go to the website learning.ausport.gov.au. There’s plenty of great tips on there about what makes a great training session, but the wonderful thing is it gives you the confidence to know you’re doing the right thing the right way, so you can enjoy being a coach!
Will you become a fully accredited coach at the end?
Well, you can print out a certificate at the end, and there’s links on the website so if you want to be fully accredited you can find the info there for specific sports.
Giaan, it’s so lovely to speak to you!
Thank you so much!