At the elite level, some make the mistake of calling it ‘giving back’ when talented sports people head to junior clubs to help out with coaching.
Around Wagga City Wanderers it’s more likely to be referred to as a two-way street.
More and more of the organisation’s promising young players are getting involved in coaching, highlighting the benefits to the players as well as the football community.
Harrison Toole and Alex Mulrooney-Castellano are Wanderers Under 20s players who have also played senior football in State League Two this season.
On Monday night, they joined a handful of teammates at Gissing Oval to help coach kids aged seven and older in the Pathways program, one of four streams of coaching and development that form part of the newly-named Wagga City Wanderers Academy.
Wanderers Under 20s coach, Ben Schmid, says it’s a great opportunity for his players.
“Just coaching themselves, they’ll learn a lot more about football than just being a player. You see a different perspective,” Schmid said.
“It’s great for the players and also for the kids that come down and get coached by Wanderers. It’s something for them to look up to.
“They get involved with what we’re doing and they can come watch [the Wanderers play] and say, ‘Oh look, that’s my coach.’ It’s just good all round for football in Wagga.”
Toole said his teammates’ enthusiasm for coaching convinced him to get involved.
“A lot of the under 20s I’m good mates with – Sam Jones, Max Lysaght and Brady Sim – they’re always telling me how much fun it is, and that’s what introduced me to coaching,” Toole said.
Schmid says the pair approached him, asking to get involved in Pathways – a program open to aspiring young footballers who want to develop their skills.
“Anyone can come along. It’s just the fundamentals of football, so you’re looking at running with the ball, your first touch, your striking of the ball and your 1v1 skills,” Schmid said.
On the far side of the ground, Liam Dedini is giving goalkeeping tips, while Toole and Mulrooney-Castellano join Chris McEwan in teaching the youngest of the boys and girls how to make a turn with the ball at your feet.
“It’s my first day, but I think I’ll love it,” said Mulrooney-Castellano
“It’s going to be good.
“I can learn a bit more. I can learn from them, they can learn from me.”
The Wanderers play Hurstville FC at 2pm on Saturday due to a forfeit in under 20s.
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