Archive for June, 2011

In Canberra

June 2, 2011

Life has been interesting for the last few weeks. The biggest part of this being selling out my company and being jobless for the first time in years. Selling and leaving the business, I’ve effectively ended a 15-year chapter in my life. My State League team isn’t winning either. there are 3 strong teams and 3 not-so-strong team (all of which expect to be able to beat the other 2 quite reasonably). Oddly, none of this seems to bother me all that much. My sister is visiting from London with her 1-year-old son and the novelty of spending time with my red-headed nephew has been distracting.

It’s also the perfect time to do the 2-week FIVB Level 1 Course, which being run at the moment at the AIS. come to think of it, job or not, since the last time this course was run in Australia was in 1988, so it’s always a perfect time to go to this course. The FIVB seem to run these courses in countries that seem to neither speak english nor have stable governments. Good course in Australia with english speaking presenter = must go.

Mark Lebedew is teaching the course so that makes the experience worthwhile in itself. Moreover, the 24 other coaches are great to learn from too. Coaching isn’t unlike art or filmmaking. I’m convinced that like artists, those who coach are compelled by a idealised vision of a reality in their head that is ultimately unattainable. It’s the suffering in always falling just short that actually creates the great art and impetus to continue. I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than hearing other coaches share the game they have in their head. For years i was reluctant to leave Adelaide because of the business and the skepticism i would enjoy coaching volleyball anywhere else. Now that i’m wrong about the second of those assumptions i’m open to living and working somewhere else.

The course also involves a significant practical component. Part of this is presenting and running drills in the gym that all the other coaches have to participate in. It’s the coaching equivalent of masterchef. You cook something based on a theme ingredient and people either like it or hate it. there’s a practical test later too that involve “coach initiated” skills. My inability to throw a ball (something I could never really do) will surely haunt me in this endeavour.

The other interesting part of all this is staying at the AIS in Canberra. It is an impressive monument to sports, but not exactly what I expected. There is very little about being a full-time athlete in a professionally run minority sport that is glamorous. The accommodation is, how shall I say, modest (OK if you are a visitor getting cheap accommodation, but perhaps less so if you have to live here everyday). I can see how it’s not the easiest place to live as a teenager. You would seriously have to love the sport you were playing to live here for extended periods of time. The food is great though.  I’ll be glad to be coming home in a week.

At the same time, the VTAM players are back from overseas training for the international season. The Lonsdale Group report suggesting that VTAM scrap attempting to qualify for 2012 seems a distant footnote, with the AVF appointing a coach and high performance manager and players turing up to practice. Business as usual. I see the players happily eating together in the dining hall and they seem in high spirits. I’m mostly impressed that these guys are prepared to go back to living like they did as 15-year-olds  for the chance to represent their country. That and the fact they greet their old junior and school coaches at the course with a lot of warmth. I honestly hope they qualify for the Olympics this time after a disappointing couple of years.

I can’t say that I have the burning desire to represent my country like most Australians do. But I concede that maybe it’s more fun than it seems to the untrained eye.