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Success comes from teamwork. Success comes from teamwork. Featured
18 July 2021 Posted by 


There’s no letter I in the word TEAM
A FEW weeks ago I was asked to participate in an Executive Mentoring Programme for the School of Business at Western Sydney University.
The Dean of the Business School, Professor Amir Mahmood, made an interesting statement in his opening address that stuck with me – “Education is Learning to Learn”!  So simple but yet so true. 
It started me thinking that this is also a key in coaching and the importance to not only learn but learn to teach at the same time.  
Coaching, especially at the junior levels, is vital to sports development at the grass roots level of our communities.  It also exemplifies societal education.  If education is the ‘Silver Bullet’ then Coaching/Teaching is a key component and attribute. 
My high school basketball coach was the most influential person in not only my coaching career but in life lessons as well.  Stricken by polio at an early age, his determination, ability to communicate and insight into getting the best out of his players were hallmarks of the respect he received from his players and the community in general.  
Winning was a by-product of making his players better people with respect for the team above self and he was not afraid to set that example when required. 
My last year of high school was a game changer in my life.  He almost dropped me from the team believing I was heading towards a me approach rather than the we approach he so firmly followed.  
I never gave him the chance to follow through and my change back to the “no letter I’ In the word team’ philosophy led me to the career I wanted.  
It was a turning point in my life that taught me valuable lessons of humbleness, humility and confidence over cockiness.  
My father could preach the same words but when my coach not only said it but acted on it the impression was lasting.  As former Raiders Coach, Don Furner, used to tell me, the threat not to play is a main motivator and control mechanism of a coach.
At the professional level coach education is fundamental.  If you do not learn and improve you will not last.  At this level it reinforces coaching is as much about psychology as it is movement of players on a field or court.  
During my coaching days in Canberra, I was fortunate to be in a city with two of the greats in their game, Johnny Warren and Don Furner.  
Add in the emerging presence of the Australian Institute of Sport and their assembled array of coaches, administrators and sports science specialists, we all benefitted from one of the best learning environments for sport.  
The key for me was the sharing of information and Don, Johnny and I would get together on a regular basis to talk coaching.  
Individuals must pursue learning
Each of us were passionate about our own sport but also ardent about coach education with an interest to learn and constantly improve. 
We were all intuitive to the fact that coaching was as much about psychology as any plays we might run to create opportunities on the field.  These days were invaluable to my continued development as a coach/person and broadened my belief in how coaching could be a key learning tool for all.
Education for the coach at the junior and amateur level is not as easy.  Sports Clubs and Associations provide some coaching programs but in my view limited for the novice coach/parent eager to do their best for their team.  
I was watching my son-in-law coach his Under 7 girls football team recently. I could not help but think how do you handle the player who does not want to participate, does not want to pass, has trouble staying sport focussed instead of dancing on the field, or is just not that athletic at such an early stage of development.  
He was impressive in his tolerance and patience with the girls which at that level is also about teaching through sport.
With coach education not a high priority in a number of sports it is up to the individual to chase learning.  
Reading and observing others in your sport are immediate sources of education.  Former Australian and NBL Coach, Rob Beveridge, told me while attending college in Canberra, he would walk to the AIS to attend daily practice sessions and watch Adrian Hurley and the basketball coaching staff to stimulate his interest and education.  
He has now written a book with his sports science associate, Stephen Bird, “When Winning Matters” to help guide the coach eager to learn like he was all those years ago. 
One of the many factors that attracted me to Blacktown City FC was our Head of Football, Mark Crittenden.  
A veteran of over 300 games with the club, his tactics are sound but it is his ability to get the best out of his players that makes him and the club a winner.  
Historically known for player development, Blacktown City has lost a number of players over the years to more financial clubs yet is always competitive and currently on top of the competition table.  
The culture Coach Crittenden has built over the years is about Team and giving your best.  Winning is a by-product of his efforts as the culture and selfless commitment he has established with his players has led to success on the field.   
I believe every business should encourage staff to go out and Coach, preferably a team sport and at the grass roots level. 
The Learning curve will be steep because players at the Junior level will put you to the test and force you to learn, adopt and adapt.  Speaking with a mate the other day who was feeling a bit anxious about his business, I suggested he go out and find a team to coach.  
That would settle him down, offer an opportunity to help others, and most likely re-stimulate his business to put a focus back on what his team at work might be needing.
Bob Turner is Executive Chairman at Blacktown FC. www.bcfc.com.au


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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