On Season 2 Episode 2 of The Football Coaching Life, Gary Cole interviews Canberra United head coach Vicki Linton.
It details her playing career where she featured in both Australia and the United States, before heading into coaching early. She was assistant coach to the Matildas during a World Cup, and the first coach to make the finals with Melbourne Victory.
She details her start in football at six-years-old, being the only girl in the entire junior club. After playing for the state leagues in Australia, she played for her country at the World University Games before moving to America to play college football. After this, she has played and worked four different times in the United States. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t playing,” Linton says.
She explains it was in Australia where she first got into coaching, completing a level 2 coaching course in 1997. She started coaching through the state league pathways for juniors, while also working for New South Wales Football.
Linton highlights the differences in the roles of being an assistant coach compared to a head coach. Linton gave 7 players their W-League debut during the most recent season. “I haven’t had a team to coach myself since 2014,” she says. She felt like she was a much better coach than the last time she was in charge.
Linton says it’s important to build upon and implement ideas that you’ve work. “There is reflection during the season, but at the end, you get the time to look back at all the things that have worked out how you wanted and the things you have achieved,” she added.
One of the things Linton has learned during her time in US soccer, after being exposed to different environments, was the ability to improve processes and thinking. She was exposed to a talented group of colleagues who have helped her improve her analysis and professional development.
Linton says her coaching philosophy is working with the players, and having them achieve their potential, grow and develop, adding you can be pragmatic and stick to your values while achieving your goals in different ways.
“We want to be successful, but we also want to solve the problem of how do you these eleven or twenty players fit together,” she said. Linton explains that is where part of her enjoyment in football comes from. With a brand new group of players, and a new coach, it took time to figure out how it all fits together.
Linton highlights the importance of mentors and learning from different environments, even outside football. Coaching has been a hard journey, but she says it is a vocation, and there is nothing else she wants to be doing.
Cole commends her ability to get the best out of Michelle Hayman as a striker after some time away from the game. Linton elaborates that it was great to see her enjoy her football and perform on the field. “As a coach, is creating a positive learning environment,” she noted. She has learned to try to find an enjoyable workplace with people around her.
Cole mentions that Canberra United’s technical department is all women, and Linton confirms that this is the first time in W-League history where a team has achieved this.
Finally, Cole asks Linton to offer one piece of advice to upcoming coaches. “Be true to yourself, that involves knowing what you are about, knowing who you are, and being confident and strong in your convictions,” Linton concluded.
All episodes of the Football Coaching Life can be found here.