Elite sporting codes overseas appoint managers. They are leaders who may not have played at a high level. They are leaders far more qualified with core components of the tasks required to be a successful sporting club, than their own playing ability.
Their experiences and skills revolve around management, leadership, strategy, communication and entrepreneurialism.
AFL coaches (largely) revolve around playing ability, no previous coaching experience, no previous management experience, assisting a club coach for varying periods of time (sometimes), and rarely if ever been employed or involved in anything outside the AFL industry.
In fact if you were drafting requirements for the credentials for your next AFL coach your criteria would be the opposite to those aforementioned AFL traits. However strangely, club leaders are seduced into appointing rookie coaches.
Within the next decade I am certain the penny will drop and clubs will start to change the structure and model of coaching moving forward.
Instead of appointing highly experienced, well credentialed football managers to support and oversee a young and inexperienced coaching panel, clubs will flip the situation on its head.
We will eventually see highly credentialed, experienced leaders managing (coaching) the club with less experienced footy managers to provide support and infrastructure to a panel of assistant coaching specialists. These assistant coaches will be career specialists who are technicians. They are astute in areas of data, information, strategy, tactics, opposition analysis, ball movement, structures, situation plays, “what-ifs”, player development, video analysis and player performance feedback, skill development, training drills and skills etc etc.
By way of example it would be like elevating Neil Balme’s or Gubby Allan’s role as football manager and appointing a leader/manager/coach (call it what you like) and that person having a team of highly credentialed, qualified technicians or assistants reporting to him and providing valuable data and information. The current club coach type (eg; Damian Hardwick, Nathan Buckley, Leon Cameron, Scott boys etc etc) would move into the specialist technician role. This would happen based on their individual skill sets, experience, areas of expertise and role enjoyment.
Many will see this as radical change, unnecessary and dangerous. My view is until we start to select people to run the football club with commensurate levels of acumen, skill and experience we will continue to get the same result.
How a board can ponder the appointment of a former elite player who has never experienced anything outside the AFL bubble is unconscionable. Just think about it; never coached his own side, never managed people, hired or fired, been a change agent, developed a culture and implemented it, executed on a devised business plan (remembering you are in the premiership business), led an organization or showed relative experience in running a 100+ staff environment? Frankly the mind boggles – it’s beyond me.
It talks more to the incompetence of the people appointing coaches than the successful candidates.