Home to a new apprentice program looking to teach upcoming coaches every aspect football has to offer, Southern Districts is spearheading Australian football in the right direction. The 18 month old initiative teaches young coaches how to professionally run training sessions, deal with administrative duties, undergo a referee?s course, set up fields and teach participants how selection processes are done in trials. Further, all coaches are expected to understand how a committee and canteen operates while becoming proficient in the nutritional necessities of athletes.
John Alvarez, the mastermind behind the program and Southern District?s Director of Coaching says the program is about showing coaches the holistic view of football.
?The goal of this program is to get coaches to fully comprehend every aspect of football. We want these coaches to have a total understanding of everything from the training ground to the drawing board and from the press room to the dining table,? said Alvarez.
Twelve players aged 14 ? 18 are selected from some of the 27 clubs spread across Southern Districts Federation with each club responsible for selecting one player they feel has the potential and commitment to undertake the apprentice program.
The program is a two year fully funded course where upcoming coaches receive gear, professional treatment and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Sydney FC coach John Kosmina.
?We have taken the coaches to Sydney FC press conferences and even allowed them to ask a question or two as well as escorting them to Marconi training sessions so they can see how a professional training session operates. Our next goal is to head to the AIS, so the coaches can see the professionalism the national institution has to offer,? said Alvarez.
The program was bought to the drawing board over three years ago when Alvarez saw that the need to develop coaches equalled that to the development of players. As much as the Alvarez wanted to continue developing players, he saw that by teaching upcoming coaches, the pool of players he could influence was much greater.
?I am unable to coach 1000 players as much as I would like to. The goal therefore is to establish a professional program that allows coaches to be better prepared, so they can in turn teach players starting at its grassroots level.?
The program, which is set to complete its first two year course in April, has been extraordinarily successful with not only participants showing commitment to every session but also a flood of positive feedback from coaches, players and parents. Fifteen year old Chipping Norton resident, Brett Anderson is one of twelve upcoming coaches who are proud to be involved in the new project.
?The program has taught me many aspects of how a club operates. In the six months that I have taken part, I have learnt how to effectively run warm up drills for teams, gained an understanding of how canteen and committee operations work, and in a month?s time I will have done my referee?s course,? said Anderson.
The apprentice program is also overlapping another scheme in the Alvarez pipeline known as the Grade 10 Identification Training Program. Known as Grade 10 for short, the 7-10 week program concentrates on preparing players under 10 years of age for representative trials in the upcoming year. Three players, chosen from each club under the Southern Districts umbrella, are given specialized training once a fortnight from Alvarez, two representative coaches, a goalkeeper coach and some coaches undertaking the apprentice program.
?The goal is to have these young players ready for their representative trials which begin at U/11?s and an opportunity to have the coaches from the apprentice program have some real hands on experience, applying what they have learnt throughout the course in real life situations. It?s about overlapping. Tying the two programs in the aim of developing coach and player simultaneously,? said Alvarez.
-By Caetano Lima