Super Coaches Seeking Scotland Success

first_imgAnd it’s just around the corner. The 2011 Federation of International Touch World Cup will be contested from Wednesday, 22 June to Sunday, 26 June 2011 at the University of Edinburgh playing fields, Peffermill, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Australia will be one of over 25 countries taking part in the event. Representing your country isn’t an honour that comes around every day and for the seven Australian teams plus the referees contingent that will travel to Edinburgh, they are about to embark on one of the highlights of their sporting careers. Behind every good team is the mastermind – the coach that spends hours upon hours strategising and working on their team’s game plan. Three of the best in the business will line up as the coaches of the Australian Open teams in Scotland. The Australian Women’s Open team will be coached by Kerry Norman, Bernie Morrison will coach the Mixed Open team, while Tony Trad will coach the Australian Men’s Open team. World Cups have been a regular occurrence for Australian Women’s Open coach, Kerry Norman. She has attended every World Cup apart from one, in 1991 – the year she had her son, Peter. Norman played in the first ever World Cup in the Australian Women’s Open side in 1988 before playing in the Women’s 30’s division at the 1995 and 1997 (Masters) World Cups. She became the assistant coach of the Women’s Open division for the 1999 World Cup, while she also played in the Women’s 30’s division. She was again the assistant coach for the 2003 World Cup before taking over the reigns as Women’s Open coach in 2007. History is a big motivator for Norman and instilling this knowledge into her Women’s Open team is paramount. Learning where the team has come from and how it got there is something Norman makes sure her team knows about before running out in the Australian colours.  “We have this saying that ‘you’re standing on the shoulders of the ones that have been before you,’ and so there’s a big tradition there as well so you’ve just got to build on what’s gone before you. We’ve had players come and speak to us about what it means to them to represent Australia. You look around and you’ve had the opportunity to play against players that you’ve always admired and respected and now you just become a part of this great big Australian family and it’s such an honour. And you don’t want to let down the people that have gone before you either,” Norman said. Norman says that seeing the tradition continue and seeing the pride and respect her team has for the players that have come before them is an honour. She couldn’t be more proud of the amount of pride her team has for representing their country. “It means the world to them, the sacrifices that you see them make, the things that they’ve gone without because it costs money for Touch. Some of them don’t even own their own car because they are spending their money on Touch, some could have had their own house by now, they could be going out with their friends but they are off training, so many sacrifices,” she said. The foundation the Australian Women’s Open team has created is one of the great stories in the sport. In 22 years, and across six World Cups, they have never lost a game in the event. This is something Norman and her team are hoping to continue, but it’s not a statistic they think about too often.“I try not to think about it. But there’s got to be a first somewhere along the line, let’s just hope it’s not this time!” Norman said. For Australia Mixed Open coach, Bernie Morrison, the 2011 World Cup will be a new experience. It’s his first World Cup as the coach of the division and he is looking forward to the challenge. New Zealand defeated Australia in the Mixed Open division at the 2007 World Cup and while Morrison has guided Australia to two Trans Tasman wins since then, he knows that winning the 2011 event won’t be an easy task. “We’re feeling pretty good. We are on track but we’ve got lots and lots of work to do so we’ll be working hard to make sure we are ready for a long tournament at the World Cup with lots of fast improving teams,” Morrison said. “At some point, probably in the round games, we’ll get to play New Zealand who are the World Cup champions and we’ll have to adjust to a new New Zealand team as I’m sure they are working hard on getting their team together for the World Cup so we’ll have to be ready for that.”The opportunity to coach the Mixed side at the World Cup is an exciting prospect for Morrison, one that he says is ‘a wonderful honour to be able to lead a wonderful group of people’.“It’s probably the best fun job in the coaching world to coach Mixed at an international level because all of the players are so good at what they do and also value the opportunity to socialise both on and off the field not only with each other but also against the teams we play against. I think that’s one of the highlights of Mixed at any international tournament.”“It’s a great honour, it’s an honour to be coach of the national team and we’ll do our best to serve our country proud.”Morrison says that while his team loves wearing the green and gold jersey, they understand that they have a responsibility to leave a legacy of strong performance behind. “They are minding that jersey for the next generation so they’re mindful that they are setting the standards for that jersey to continue. When they hand that jersey on the new person that comes into the jersey has a lot to live up to, they are really the standards that each player and the entire group sets for ourselves. It’s no different to any Australian national team, we’re all the same. But everyone sees the jersey as a wonderful opportunity,” Morrison said. The 2011 World Cup marks the fourth World Cup appearance for Australian Men’s Open coach, Tony Trad. After coaching the Lebanon Men’s Open side and being the assistant coach for the Australian Senior Mixed team at the 1999 World Cup, coaching the Australian Mixed Open side to their win in 2003 in Japan and guiding the Australian Men’s Open team to their 2007 World Cup win, Trad is looking forward to yet another appearance in the green and gold in Scotland.  While four years seems like a long time between each World Cup, Trad says the time between 2007 and now has gone very quickly. “I think part of that has been because we now have a full time international calendar with the Trans Tasman every year so you’re not just focussed on the World Cup, you are focussed on a particular Trans Tasman coming up and then as soon as you’ve got that done, it’s another Trans Tasman but all the while you’re still looking at the World Cup. It feels like just last year that we were in South Africa, I can’t believe it’s been four years,” Trad said.  A veteran in the Australian coaching ranks, Trad says that representing Australia at the World Cup is one of the proudest moments of his life and this is something he is trying to instil into his squad in the lead up to Scotland. “I never get sick of listening to the national anthem. A lot of people get excited at international tournaments in Touch because they get to watch the Haka and while that’s fantastic and it’s a great part of our tradition I get excited because I get to stand there and sing the national anthem before the battle. To me, it’s everything, it’s one of the proudest moments you’ll ever have to represent your country,” he said. “I think one of the things that I really instil in my players when they are representing Australia is the sense of pride and what it means to be an Australian. I think that’s the same feeling and the same questions that you ask a lot of Australian athletes, not just in Touch. I always talk about what’s the difference between an Australian Touch player and some of the highlighted and well known athletes like Ricky Ponting or Stephanie Rice or Ian Thorpe or these other great athletes that represent their country. The truth is that the commitment and the passion and the desire to represent your country in your chosen sport is the same, the only real difference is that they get paid and get a lot of things paid for, and while it’s great, what does it say about the commitment and the desire of the Australian Touch player who has to play and pay? That’s a big wrap for our athletes that we actually have to pay but we still get there and have that desire and commitment, it’s harder for us than others. I really want to instil that that’s pretty much the guts and the sacrifice it takes to represent this great country.”Trad says that while his team takes a lot of pride in their jersey, he teaches them that it’s about more than just the colour of the shirt that they are wearing. “They cherish it very much because they know how hard it is and how hard they’ve worked and for every player that is there, there is probably 100 that want to be there. A lot of people talk about the shirt and ‘the people that wore number 10,  the people that wore number seven and the people that wore number four’ Australian shirt, and they put too much emphasis on the shirt. I think what’s more important is the man that makes the shirt, not the shirt that makes the man. It’s those players, whether they are current or former, that have done a great honour to our country that makes the shirts important, not the other way around,” Trad said. Heading into his fourth World Cup doesn’t make the job any easier for Trad but he has learnt plenty of things along the way that have helped make him such a great coach. “You get a bit more experienced and you learn not to panic as much and to focus on the right things more often but the one thing about being in so many World Cups is I’ve noticed over the years is that greater expectations of you and your team and performance, people expect more, people want more, the game has changed and of course, if you continue to be successful, the pressure gets greater. Eventually you may not be as successful as people think and of course, we keep bringing young kids into this game who are younger and younger so your work is harder because you have to put an old head on a young shoulders. It doesn’t get any easier, there’s just different challenges, that’s all,” he said.last_img

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