Coaches use tough time to Zoom in and help kids
THROUGH unexpected challenges and adversity, some positive new thinking and productive partnerships can emerge.
That's been the case at Western Pride FC, where the coronavirus pandemic has brought a group of football coaches closer together.
Western Pride technical director Mike Mulvey believes his National Premier Leagues junior team mentors have established stronger bonds by communicating regularly through online conferencing.
As Pride's boys and girls NPL and SAP sides prepare for a return to the field this month, the former A-League coach has been encouraged by recent progress in challenging times.
"The pandemic hit and then you had to be creative,'' Mulvey said.
"We've been having Zoom meetings every week and hook-ups with all the NPL coaches and the overriding theme was education. To just talk about certain subjects and brainstorming.
"But at the same time we've had to be mindful of all the kids at home and not going to school.''
The former A-League premiership-winning mentor said the Pride coaches collectively considered how to help them.
With the kids having school work to do at home, Mulvey said the Ipswich club needed to provide remote football work for them to do.
"So we reached out to them and we offered some advice as to what kind of work they should be doing,'' he said.
"They couldn't go in and engage with their friends because they were social distancing.
"So we had sessions on things like go find a wall and get a ball and just practise your skills.
"We gave them advice like that on a regular basis and I said to the guys that it's really important because we are going to start again eventually.''
Mulvey said the process of working online also helped Pride's junior coaching team become more united.
The elite level coach is excited to see more progress when the NPL competition for boys and girls resumes on July 19.
A new NPL draw is yet to be finalised due to some potential clashes with school football and a planned futsal tournament.
Mulvey said the last thing Pride wanted was for kids to be disadvantaged having to choose between school and club commitments.
"With the Grammar school and WestMAC we want to make sure that there's ability for the players to play in both fixtures,'' he said. "We need to all work together.''
Mulvey has also been running sessions with students through the West Moreton Anglican College's Football Excellence Program.
Pride club juniors have been back doing non-contact training for three weeks.
Western Pride has SAP teams for kids aged 9-12. The Ipswich club also has boys sides in under-13, U14, U15 and U16 competition, along with girls teams in U13 and U15 state league series.
Another benefit for Mulvey during a period without face-to-face contact was developing a new service.
He's setting up a part-time coaching business using Zoom. He's keen to connect with coaches wanting to achieve their licences, improve their management skills and assist with youth development.
"I've always thought I have something to offer,'' the well-travelled national league and international coach said. "Here's an opportunity now.''