Recently, we have been running hockey clinics in North West Tasmania for any child keen to pick up a stick. And we mean any. Why do we do it?
It’s not for the glory or looking like good eggs, it’s because of a stat we heard years and years ago, “100% of kids not playing hockey are not enjoying playing hockey.”
These clinics have involved late nights planning, early mornings driving 90 minutes to a venue and back again, giving children a lift to the sessions and a bit of stress about how to make it all work.
It’s worth every second to see young people execute a new skill or laugh with a friend.
For the record, I am tied with one club as its senior women’s coach, but have coached kids from four different clubs and some newbies at these sessions.
At a recent clinic, an underage coach from a rival club sat and watched a session being run. She openly and honestly said to me after that she was not only there to watch her daughter, but to steal ideas for her juniors.
We’re not saying we’re the Ric Charlesworth of junior coaching. Far from it, but this coach has identified something she can pick up and take back to kids we’re not reaching.
She then came to us with a problem her club is facing around junior coaching and finding the right coach for an underage team at her club.
We spoke a bit and came up with a name of a fella who she hadn’t thought of and who I, personally, hold in very high regard at her club and believe would be an excellent junior coach.
This is based on his own skill, communication style, knowledge and passion for the game and how he interacts with his own kids as a Dad. I’m happy to Dad and not father for this fella.
He’s been around as long as I have, played with and against me and I respect him as a teammate, opponent and jolly decent human.
The conversation turned to his lack of coaching experience. Despite being around the sport as long as me, he hasn’t coached much. The simple answer from us is, “We don’t care.”
Personally and professionally; I don’t care if he’s green, he’ll learn. I don’t care if he’s nervous, he’ll gain confidence. I don’t care if he’s from a rival club, give him my number and I can help with whatever he needs.
This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time I/we will make this offer. For no gain at all other than seeing someone or their athletes improve/succeed/develop, call it what you will.
During a recent national championship, a player was thrown in the deep end to play a position they had never player before. We wrote a paper to give this player theory on the position, a couple of quick tips and handy hints that saw this player finish runner up in the Most Valuable Player award.
The coach of this team probably should have done this themselves but was unable to for very legitimate reasons so asked for help which we commend. Eventually this coach, a senior player at a very successful rival club, asked me for the notes we had written.
We had a choice.
Deny this coach the opportunity to develop their coaching and benefit a whole group of young players based on prejudices like being a from a rival club or even getting that coaching gig over me.
Or give the notes freely help the coach to learn, help a group of aspiring players, develop a working relationship with that coach and benefit the eco-system of the sport. Pretty simple choice really.
We gave the notes, they needed editing for a wider audience, but a whole group of young people benefitted.
Basically, we didn’t care. We didn’t care about our intellectual property, who the person was or what they were trying to achieve.
We didn’t see it as us and them, we saw it as we and that’s where this blog goes.
Sport is we. Whether you are in a team where we is obvious, or an individual athlete where we can be harder to find, the benefits of putting we ahead of I MUST outweigh any rivalry, pettiness and ill will.
To the potential underage coach who may step up for his club, we don’t care if you do or you don’t, that’s on you, but we also don’t care if you call whenever you need a helping hand, just touch base.
For sport to survive and thrive, a whole of sport approach needs to be adopted, cross pollination of sport too and the benefit to a whole community needs to be seen as greater than individual achievement.
It’s basic, who you are means nothing to us, what you are doing means the world and we are here to support anybody trying to make things better.
The writer is a coach at www.conversantsport.com