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The need for more women coaches – Interview with FCA’s Aish Ravi

New Football Coaches Australia (FCA) Executive Committee member Aish Ravi has made it her mission to inspire more women to take up coaching roles, from the community level to the highest level of sport in Australia.

Ravi, who is undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy focusing on women’s coaching education in football, believes Football Coaches Australia is an organisation that can challenge the current status quo amongst the coaching ranks.

“I think FCA has definitely got the potential to make a lot of change in the coaching and leadership space. I’m really excited to help them enact that change,” she said.

“I’m currently doing a PHD looking at women in sport. It’s really about understanding what women’s experiences are in football and why there is a lack of them, and seeing what strategies we can put in place to change that.

“I met Glenn Warry (CEO of FCA) through my involvement of working within the Victorian NPL system and he wanted me to use my knowledge and expertise I guess, in wanting to contribute to give women a voice in FCA.

“We wanted to see how we can amplify their voices, provide more exposure for them and also see how we can increase the number of women coaches.”

A VCE Business Management and Economics teacher by day, Ravi was personally introduced to coaching when she was asked to coach the school’s football side.

After completing an appropriate coaching licence course, she would go on to manage Junior NPL teams at Heidelberg United and Bayside United, before eventually being offered a position to coach the women’s senior team at Bentleigh Cobras.

“We ended up winning the championship in my first season (at Bentleigh) in 2019 which was really exciting,” Ravi said.

“Now we are just trying to regroup and see if we can do the same thing this year.”

Ravi’s passion for coaching is helped by her enthusiasm for working with younger people.

“I really enjoy working with them in a holistic way, so getting to know them and understanding what their interests, motivations and desires are to help them achieve their best,” she said.

“That combined with the love of football, is really why I enjoy coaching football in particular. It’s the world game and once you understand and know that, you can talk to so many people from so many different places. It’s something I get a lot of excitement and enjoyment from.”

FCA Executive Committee member Aish Ravi.

Despite these positive experiences in football, Ravi would still see the coaching game in general dominated heavily by males, something that she believed needed to be addressed.

In response to this, she would go on to co-found the Women’s Coaching Association (WCA) last year with fellow PHD candidate Julia Hay.

“I coach football, but I also play Australian rules and cricket, so I’m quite heavily involved in the community with sport in general,” Ravi said.

“Julia has an Australian Rules background and from talking and sharing our experiences we realised that a lot of the barriers women face coaching football (from my perspective), were actually also similar to that of other sports.

“Sports such as Australian Rules, Cricket, Hockey, Netball all shared common challenges. So, we founded WCA, really to get all the sports together, not just for football.

“We wanted to really bring it together for the coaches, in particular women coaches, but also men who are coaching women.

“We would like to see how we can first of all attract more women and girls to coach sport, how we can develop the women and girls who are currently coaching a team in these sports and also sustain a career.

“They are the three real objectives we have.”

According to Ravi, events like The Women’s World Cup in 2023, the biggest sporting event to be held on our shores since the 2000 Olympics, will hopefully act as a catalyst for necessary social changes in women’s sport. Not only at a coaching or playing capacity, but also at a leadership level.

“It’s a really important event,” she said.

“Sport is the most powerful social institution. It’s great that the Football World Cup is the world’s largest women’s sporting event and it’s awesome that it’s at our home.

“If the Matildas have success that’s great, that can show the young girls and women that they have a pathway, a career, that’s celebrated and respected and perhaps they can succeed in.

“But It’s also vital that we have women leaders that are visible and succeeding, that sends an equally powerful message that there are also career opportunities off the field.”

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Football Coaches Australia present ‘The Football Coaching Life Podcast’ #6 with Gary Cole interviewing Ernie Merrick

Ernie Merrick is well known in Australian Football circles. He has coached most recently at Newcastle Jets, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory in the A-League.

Ernie Merrick is well known in Australian Football circles. He has coached most recently at Newcastle Jets, Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory in the A-League, where he had great on-field success in terms of both results and developing players. Ernie also had a short stint as the Coach of the Hong Kong National Team.

Prior to his A League experiences Ernie played at Frankston City, coached, and played at Doveton and was assistant coach at Frankston Pines in the State Premier League.  He moved on from the Victorian competitions to the National Soccer League and coached at Preston Lions and Sunshine George Cross. He was then appointed as the inaugural Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) Head Coach where he helped to develop players for the Australian Junior National teams – Josh Kennedy, Scott McDonald, Matthew Spiranovic, Eugene Galekovic, Paul Giannou, Con Blatsis, Danny Allsopp, Leigh Broxham, Adrian Leijer, Roddy & Andy Vargas, Jimmy Jeggo, Simon Colosimo and Vince Grella – to name a few!

Perhaps most well remembered as the hugely successful inaugural Coach at Melbourne Victory where he helped build one of the A-Leagues benchmark clubs from the ground up. During his time at Melbourne Victory from 2005 to 2011 he won the Championship in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009, the Premiership in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 and the Pre-Season Cup in 2008-2009 completing the treble.

Ernie’s teams have always had a focus on attacking and scoring goals and indeed his record shows this.

Please join me in sharing Ernie Merrick’s Coaching Life.

https://thefootballcoachinglifepodcast.podbean.com/e/ernie-merrick/

Football Coaches Australia launch XV Essential Skills program

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture are launching its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

Football Coaches Australia (FCA), in partnership with XVenture, is excited to launch its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

A global first, this is a revolutionary new coach education and development program delivered via a rich and engaging virtual world learning experience. The program will be readily accessible for all coaches, from local football to elite football.

The series of modules aim to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching – Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Communication, Culture and Resilience. It is filled with contemporary examples from football globally, as well as providing an overview of key research across the five modules.

The modules contain 20 subjects presented in a variety of fully integrated and multi-media style materials in the form of videos, articles, activities and podcasts and connected tests to confirm understanding of key concepts.

Exterior of FCA College

FCA CEO Glenn Warry outlined the potential that the FCA XV Essential Skills program has in growing the reputation of Australian football domestically and internationally.

“Our vision as an organisation is to promote the strength and reputation of football in Australia, and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage, he said.

“Our partnership with XVenture is going to enable the FCA to position itself as a world leader in the delivery of unique professional development experiences for football coaches.”

FCA President Phil Moss will introduce the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. Moss is enthusiastic about the exciting opportunities offered by the alignment between FCA and XV.

“This is a world first opportunity presented initially to Australian coaches but accessible to every coach around the football universe,” he said.

“At the very heart of everything FCA stands for is ‘for Coaches, by coaches’ – so this an incredible opportunity to enhance the continuing education around every coach’s journey no matter what level they are working at. It is something we, along with our highly valued partners XVenture, are just so proud to present.

“The global pandemic has taught us to be more innovative than ever before & these Essential Skills programs, inside our very own FCA College, is taking that innovation to heights never before seen!”

Speaking on a webinar last Monday evening, XVenture founder Prof. Mike Conway acknowledged the importance coaches have – not just in developing individual talent, but in guiding and ensuring the wellbeing of their players.

“Coaches are taught to have amazing skillsets on technical, tactical and physical, they’ve had that for a long time… where I try to bring in a new & different perspective in the elite sport environment is in the areas of emotional intelligence, leadership and communication. Where teams apply these skills typically there are higher performance levels,” he said.

“If you go into the Socceroos camp it’s a beautiful environment. We’ve got to make sure that players want to be there as they’re traveling all over the world for 10 to 15 days at a time, so we’ve got to make it a really positive environment and how we do that is part of the various different subjects.

“This education platform is a big project and I’m massively committed to football, I’ve grown up with it and so I see the power and the strength of what we can do when we’ve got a great coach working with great young kids, we can make a lot of change.”

Each of the modules were constructed in accordance with the principles of the Attention, Generation, Emotion and Spacing (AGES) model in an effort to ensure coaches learn quickly and are able to retain information far beyond finishing the course. The platform will include a total of 103 subjects which will take between 10 to 15 minutes each to complete.

Warry, in speaking on the modern approach of the FCA XV Essential Skills program noted how influential it can be for young players.

“In my work with university students over the past twelve years the big thing they tell us about delivery of content is that they don’t want anything in ‘longer bites’ than 10-15 minutes,” he said.

“This is the way young people are learning these days. In designing the pedagogy and the delivery model, [we’ve built] a state-of-the-art program in the way we’re delivering education.”

Upon completion of each individual module, coaches will receive 30 CPD points from Football Australia – as well as recognition of prior learning from a major Australian University following the conclusion of all five modules.

Modules will be released through a gradual rollout starting Tuesday April 6, 2021 – accessible for registration here.

Football Coaching Life Podcast Recap: Episode Five with Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold was the special guest on episode five of Football Coaches Australia’s ‘The Football Coaching Life’ podcast.

Arnold has been to two World Cups as assistant to Gus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek, coached at two Asian Cups and Tokyo 2021 will be his second Olympics as Head Coach.

The current Socceroos coach has had wonderful success in the A-League winning Premierships and Championships with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC, as well as the FFA Cup with the Sky Blues.

Speaking with Gary Cole, Arnold touches on topics such as the past year’s difficulties due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how his coaching journey began, his successes at Central Coast and Sydney, the valuable lessons he has learnt along the way and much more.

Key Quotes in Episode Five

On the current structures of football in this country

“When you start looking at the overall sport of football in this country, right from the grassroots all the way up to professional, it’s big bash football.”

On his time working with Guus Hiddink

“He taught me more in 12 months, that I probably could’ve learnt in 10 years.”

His best lesson in coaching

“My best lesson I ever learnt was the 2007 Asian Cup. I stuffed that up big time and I knew I had. But what I tried to do…was I tried to manage the Guus Hiddink way. That was very rigid, very hard…and I didn’t have the power to deal with the ‘big boys’ in the end.”

On his man management style

“I’ve never let the players call me gaffer or the boss. It’s ‘Arnie’, and i’m there to help. I’m not there to rule with fear, or scare them or dictate to them. First and foremost, I’m there to support and help them become great players and great people.”

Final piece of wisdom for coaches

“Believe in yourself. It’s tough, coaching is not easy. Believe in your way and do it your way. Be flexible in the way you think, but at the end of it enjoy every day.”

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