Junior League 3

I’ve been coaching junior league since 2002 and it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed it this much.

Usually by this time I’m just tired of rushing to training and games after work and looking forward to the season ending and the buildup to AVSC. Getting a full team to turn up to matches on time can be stressful too.

My phone-bill during winter months would be well over the cap from texting match info and finding fill ins. Thursday night till the end of the game was always stressful with cancellations and having to ring around fill-ins and keep track of who was playing under which assumed name. The early ones would cancel on thursday night… some would cancel friday morning. It would be quiet until the school day ended and the next wave would come in. then up to any time you drive to the venue you’d get cancellations. Throw in senior team commitments on saturday and that about does it.

It doesn’t help when you’re not winning and doing whatever you can to not forfeit. Over the 9 years i was at Henley I usually coached 2 teams a season. They were all great teams to work with, but a lot of hard work and i rarely made finals.

Which makes this year, my first at Norwood refreshingly unusual. There’s a lot of organisational support with Dr Dan and Tom West running a lot of the show. There’s an automated SMS system that notifies everyone. I’m rarely organising anyone – i don’t even have anyone’s number. My phone bill has come under the cap 6 months in a row. I get sent an email and a text about where to be at what time. I don’t even technically need to look at the timetable. I just turn up to trainings and games and do what i love best.

On top of that. 3 out of my 4 teams are WINNING and in finals. My div 1 and div 2 girls finished top. My div 3 girls finished 2nd – although the team on 1st has lost 4 games, whereas we’ve lost 1 and forfeited 3 so we’re 2nd on percentage.The finals format is double elimination 1 v4, 2 v 3, winners play off for the premiership.

Finals are on this friday and i’m in the predicament of having to be in 3 places at the same time. Usually i’m watching finals football this friday. or cheering on someone else’s team. I’ve got good help though. A couple of the senior men’s teams are helping out, which means my div 2 girls have a coach who has coached a professional women’s team in europe, and my div 3 girls have a coach who’s assisted the AIS men.

I used to think the way Norwood ran juniors was insane. I was brought up with the philosophy that you had as many teams as you had coaches. But Norwood was different. In one year they had no junior teams. then one day, it just seemed like there were 10 teams and 2 guys coaching all of them… or sometimes a parent, or older player etc. It’s how i got involved with norwood. My final jr league season had finished early at Henley, and Tom asked me to fill in for a team that had made finals but didn’t have a coach. We ended up winning it and it was cool.

Norwood just wanted to get as many people playing as they could. I quickly changed my original position when it became apparent that it’s not easy right now to get a game and training in jr league unless you go to a particular school.

So when I got asked to take a girls team for Norwood, i was a bit surprised that what i thought was going to be 9-10 players turned out to be 25. the numbers died down but stayed at about 18ish. It’s a lot of fun training a big group. it’s great for the culture, and the younger players get to see and play against the older ones. I get to as many games as i can, but if i can’t make one, we have a good network of coaches, parents and older players willing to help out. it’s like playing a zone defence with me, Tom & Dr Dan usually all at a different venue.

With finals coming up, we did a lot of scrimmaging, splitting up the teams into groups of 4 or 5. Yr 8s playing on teams with yr 12s. Not much of it was in-system, but they executed simple technique, read cues and had a lot of laughs.

who knows how they’ll do in their elimination finals on friday. but for now, it’s a good feeling. Can’t take anything for granted. so take a photo with everyone when you can because it could always be the last chance you get to.

Big thanks to everyone at Norwood for a great season (Tom, Dr Dan, Ross, Pete, Paddy, Polky, Hannah W, Hannah E, Gab, Bridget, Maurice, Sophie, Sofi, Tiff, Oscar, Brodie, Jen, Nik, Lauren D, Jason, Jacob, Shane. i’m sure i’ve missed someone…). See you guys in summer league!

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One Response to “Junior League 3”

  1. Hugh Nguyen Says:

    footnote: All 3 girls teams ended up winning their their semi’s and are through to the grand finals. The div 1 boys also made it through to the grand final. Our div 3 boys and U15 div 2 girls weren’t as lucky

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