Coach In Focus ~Rod Dowling
Meet Year 8 Coach Rod Dowling
Rod has invested a lot of time into the Club and in player development through coaching. He has worked with a lot of these boys since Auskick and last year Rod took the Year 7 team all the way to the Preliminary Finals. In 2017 Rod also took on the role of Auskick Pre Primary coach for his younger son Joel for a year as well as coaching his son Tom’s Year 6 team. In 2017 Rod was awarded the East Fremantle district’s ‘Coach of the Year’ for his service to the Club and Football.
1.How long have you been coaching footy for at AMPJFC and other clubs?
I started in 1995 as a Fitness Coach for a Junior Football club as part of a University placement for Exercise and Sports Science, and started coaching school football in 1999. I started as an Auskick Coach of my son (Tom) at AMPJFC in 2012.
2. Did you play footy yourself as a youngster. If so who for and what age till.
Yes, I still remember starting as an 8-year old at Nollamara, played through school and then mucked around with a few amateur and Sunday League clubs, plus one season with the
Singapore Wombats in 1996!
3. Who was your best coach when you played? Why?
I still have fond memories of Merv White (ex-WAFL / South Fremantle from the 1960’s). He was my PE Teacher and first school coach. He always had a calm demeanour and I had to really prove myself as a player in the first few games before I got a regular start.
4. How many kids do you have playing with the Hawks?
Two boys. Tom (Year 8) who has been playing since Pre-Primary Auskick in 2011, and Joel (Year 2 Auskick) who is into his third year at the club.
5. What age groups have you coached?
A range of age groups from Pre-Primary Auskick through to Year 8, and I’ve coached all year levels at High School (boys and girls). I was also the Fitness Coach for the Karratha Kats (West Pilbara League) in their 2004 Premiership!!
6. What got you into coaching?
I’ve always been involved in sport and teaching physical education, but my interest in the science and psychology of coaching developed through my university study and continues to this day.
7. What do you enjoy about coaching?
The opportunity to help others develop skills, ability and confidence. I’m still a keen student of the science behind coaching and any opportunity to encourage young people to remain active is important, and I enjoy developing my coaching knowledge by drawing from other sports. I also enjoy helping others develop their coaching.
8. What are some stand out moments as a coach?
Well I’ve never won a premiership as either player or Head Coach so can’t say one of those, although being recognised as the East Fremantle District Junior Coach of the Year in 2017 was a nice moment. More than anything, I’m proud when you see the incremental improvements by a player and they start to believe a little more in their own potential. I’m also fortunate to have played a small role in either coaching, teaching or mentoring players and students that have gone on to play elite level sport in Australia.
9. What is your focus for the team this year?
I started out with a focus on tackling, accuracy and being at every contest, however the focus has changed somewhat as the season has unfolded. As this is the most challenging year of my coaching, I’ve had to adapt and develop a renewed emphasis on foundation skills. What never changes is an emphasis on character and the values of humility, unity, passion, gratitude and respect.
10. What is your catch phrase that you always say to your players eg words of wisdom, inspirational message etc
“Be better than your last game.” or “Today, try and do one thing better.”
11. What AFL Team do you barrack for?
What Michelle says: “Rod is a very reliable Coach, highly motivated and focuses on how to improve the boys performances on the field.”
What Simon says: “This has been the toughest season of football for our team that I have seen in my 8 years at the club. We lost three key players, have been playing with low numbers through illness and injuries, and recently took on three more players from Clontarf all whilst having very little success on field.
As coach it’s easy when you’re winning. The true sign of a great coach is when things are not going well. The things they do behind the scenes.
Through this very challenging period, Rod remains calm and focussed, delivering clear instructions whilst encouraging the boys to always look to improve…”to go one better”. He is never too busy to speak with players one on one, and does alot of work away from training nights and game days that very few people see. He has certainly earnt the respect of the team and parents.”