LUKE Monaghan is well versed in the pressures that are associated with coaching a football team and just how lonely the role can seem at times.
Which is why he’s so passionate about the launch of the new Central Victoria Coaching Academy and the support network it will not only provide, but also upskill participants, create pathway opportunities and increase retention.
Monaghan is one of four committee members of the inaugural Central Victoria Coaching Academy, which is supported by CoachAFL.
Joining Monaghan on the committee is former Bendigo Pioneers and Victoria Country under-18s coach Mark Ellis, former South Bendigo coach Danny O’Bree and AFL Central Victoria development manager Shane Koop.
Monaghan has a wealth of coaching experience behind him having spent 14 years in the caper – three with the Eaglehawk under-18s, three as an assistant with the Bendigo Pioneers, six as senior coach with Eaglehawk and the past two involved with the BFNL inter-league team, as well as some mentoring.
“I think there’s a real need for coaches to have support… to have someone to talk to and learn new things because at the end of the day, it’s just you and your team and they are all relying back on you,” Monaghan said this week.
“I know clubs have good things around them in terms of committees and assistant coaches, but ultimately it’s the coach who has to come up with the plan and set those plans.
“So the coaching academy is all about helping coaches to upskill themselves and have another outlet for coaches to talk to and build the support for them.”
The Coaching Academy will be open to senior and junior coaches, with applicants to go through an interview process.
“Applications will open in December and close in mid-January… one of the key things with this is it’s for passionate coaches who see coaching as a pathway,” Monaghan said.
“The committee will have a sit-down interview with the applicants to get an understanding of what they want to get out of the academy, where their passion lies and how we can help them.
“From there we’ll have 12 structured sessions from February through to July and we’ve then left the back half of the footy season open to allow the coaches to focus solely on finals and whatever else is coming up.
“In terms of the sessions, the coaches will have the chance to really drive what they want to get out of it. There’s no point us saying that this is what session one is going to be about when there’s a real interest in something else.
“Once we have the coaches selected they will fill out a survey indicating where their priority needs are and we’ll cater the program to them.
“We’ve already got many ideas and presentations prepared, but it will ultimately come down to what the coaches want.”
Reflecting back on his coaching journey, Monaghan has no doubt as to box No.1 he’d tick if he was filling out the survey on what he’d like to get out of the academy.
“Player relationships and player management is just so crucial now. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Auskick, under-12s, senior football or the elite pathway, you need to be able to manage your players,” Monaghan said.
“They are after feedback, they are after goalsetting, they want you to invest time, so the relationship with a coach and his players is so important.”
Increasing retention rates among coaches is one of the key focuses of the academy, with the coaching merry-go-round at senior level having been swinging particularly rapidly across the region in recent seasons.
Of the 28 senior clubs in the Bendigo, Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues, this year there were only six whose coaches had also been at their club just two seasons earlier in 2016.
Half of those 28 clubs went through coaching changes leading into 2018, with the likes of Monaghan’s six-season, 119-game stint at the Borough between 2011 and 2016 becoming increasingly rarer as demands in the role continue to grow.
“There’s brilliant coaches who get worn out after only one, two or three years and then they’re done,” Monaghan said.
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“But you still really want those people involved in football and supporting teams, so if coaches had better support and we can hit the needs of what they’re after they can improve the functioning and systems at their club and, hopefully, be in the position for longer.
“It is a trend around the region of late where coaches are only staying in the job for a couple of years and that’s hard for clubs as well because they are forever rotating through and searching for new coaches.
“If you talk to most clubs now, it’s hard to get junior coaches and it’s hard to get senior coaches who fit the needs of the club.”
Monaghan described the time associated with the role as the most challenging aspect of his coaching tenure.
“You’ve got a family, you’ve got a job that is your main source of income, and then you’ve got to find the time to put the work into coaching… whether it’s cutting vision, the one-on-one conversations with your players, pre-season recruiting and so on,” Monaghan said.
“It’s very time consuming and a big commitment, but there’s also the relationships you form and that’s the great part of club footy.
“And then from a junior point of view, if you see someone you’ve coached go on to have an impact at the elite level that’s brilliant as well, but the biggest reward is the relationships.”
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