Opinion

Coaching heat constant

by
July 14, 2017

Echuca Murray Bombers coach Andrew Briggs will be stepping down as coach after the 2017 season.

The pressure on coaches is immense.

Whether that be in the AFL, junior football for a handful of hours a week, or an almost semi-professional environment in the Goulburn Valley League.

Being in charge of an AFL team has been a full-time gig for a few decades and rightfully so.

But there is no way anyone could make a living off leading a GVL side.

The effort those coaching locally put in basically does equate to another full-time job.

The proud history of the league and esteem it is held in Victorian football means this is not a job that can just be winged.

Andrew Briggs announced on Tuesday he was standing down as coach of Echuca at the end of the season.

A premiership player at Echuca in 2001, Briggs accepted the job when the club was attempting to rebuild its proud reputation.

Coming off one win in 2013, it was going to be a long way to the top for the Murray Bombers.

Briggs has stayed the course at Echuca, giving the job everything he could to have the club in a serious position of playing finals for the first time since 2011.

They are not there yet, but the Murray Bombers have given themselves a huge opportunity to break the drought.

The sheer amount of time taken up to get any club to this point is only sustainable for so long.

Considering these men work hard outside football to make a living in their own professional careers, the lifespan of a country coach usually is only a few years.

Briggs, who is a respected school teacher, was able to give me an insight into what his usual week coaching looks like when I spoke to him on Wednesday after he announced his resignation.

It all starts on a Sunday with a review of the previous day’s match, using an analysis program, Dartfish.

That could take up to four hours.

A regular Monday involves checking in with players to see how they are travelling, whether that be via phone, written feedback or guys coming around to his place to chat.

On Tuesday, it is back into training and discussing injuries and the physical welfare of his players with a physio.

When Wednesday comes around it is time to start honing in on the next game with an opposition analysis and what players are available or not.

Anyone who has ever been involved in a football/netball club knows Thursday nights are the big one.

A session on the training track, followed by a club dinner and the reading out of the teams to players and supporters is the norm.

Friday is the final preparation, before game day on Saturday.

‘‘I have a professional approach to what I do, and it takes up a lot of time, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it,’’ Briggs said.

‘‘The process I wouldn’t change at all and I’m very comfortable in knowing the process I’ve used has worked for me.’’

All of that is just during a season; it is not even taking into account the hundreds of hours put into recruiting and managing a list capable of challenging for a premiership.

Most coaches are still so giving with the media, despite all that pressure.

Whether it be a call from a journalist on a Thursday for a preview and a Sunday to review the game for the Shepparton News, or an occasional radio stint on One FM.

Just when they probably are thinking about putting football to the back of their minds, they see a reporter’s number flash up on their phone.

I started at The News not long after Briggs was appointed coach and he has always been a pleasure to deal with.

Coaches are usually the first one blamed when something is going wrong at a sporting club and do not always get the credit when the wins inevitably come.

The passion and enthusiasm of country football coaches can’t be underestimated.

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