St Mary's under-12 mentor recognised by Goulburn Murray Coaches Association for some hard work.By Darren Cook
St Mary’s under-12 football mentor DARREN COOK was last week named Goulburn Murray Coaches Association junior coach of the year. The Telegraph asked him to pen his thoughts on why he got into the role, what it means to him, what he finds enjoyable and his plans for the future.
This is my third season as coach of the under 12s. My son Dylan decided in 2011 that he was going to play football. I attended training and game days with Dylan and assisted with whatever there was to do.
Due to circumstances out of my control, mid season the Saints needed an under-12 coach urgently. I was always going to get involved in some way as I do with all my kids’ sport, whether a coaching role, runner, trainer so I put my hand up to take the reins for the rest of the season.
I immediately contacted Greg Liddell and he arranged a magnet board, coaching manuals and DVDs on coaching. I then got busy reading and watching DVDs.
My first game coaching was against my own junior team the Seymour Lions. The opposing coach was a friend of mine Paul Lewis who I also badgered for some coaching drills. It was a nervous day for me but at the same time enjoyable.
From there on we finished the year off well and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. At season’s end the committee approached me and asked if I would continue. I didn’t hesitate and I applied for the job in 2012. I was the only applicant so the job was mine. The same thing happened in 2013.
Each year I have really enjoyed my coaching role. The child is first and foremost and I make that clear to the parents at the start of each season.
It gives me a great deal of satisfaction watching the kids improve over the year. Each child is different and each child’s skill level is also different.
My boys’ ages range from eight to 12 years old so keeping each child’s interest level high is a challenge. I think I have achieved a high interest level as I keep a training attendance log and there are many kids this year who have only missed one or two training runs. Generally I am only missing one or two each training run and that is due to illness.
With the under 12s I believe it is all about teaching the correct technique.
Whether it’s protecting your head when tackling, keeping your eye on the ball when you smother, getting your knee up when you jump high for elevation and protection, the boys need to learn the correct technique first.
It’s good to stand back at the end of the season and watch the boys training and see kids like Jack Davey kick a nice drop punt rather that a torpedo on the run, Ollie Lubeck doing a great shepherd, Tom Allen laying a hard tackle and Jonah Hackwill catching his fist after a handball.
That is why I coach and that is the enjoyment I get from it.
You always hear people say that it’s not all about winning and to a certain extent I believe that’s true. However kids do like to win and if we win games then I see that as a bonus.
At the start of each game I always tell the kids to go out and enjoy the day and have fun.
Win, lose or draw it doesn’t matter to me, it’s about playing the game to the best of your ability and to have fun doing it.
Probably the most memorable moment I had this year was on presentation night when captain Sam Durham made a presentation to me and mentioned in his speech that I was like a father to all the boys.
Those words make you want to come back and coach next year.
Dylan moves up into the under-14s next year but at this stage I think I will apply to coach the under-12s again in 2014.
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