Author Archive: Ida Allen

Wayne Gretzky’s Possible Return to Coaching

It has been ten years since Wayne Gretzky coached professional hockey, however, fans have been clamouring for the champion to return since leaving a decade ago. The Canadian General Manager of Hockey, Sean Burke, announced that he had been actively pursuing Wayne Gretzky for a new coaching position. Sean’s announcement noted that Gretzky could become the head coach for the Spengler Cup Tournament.

Gretzky has already responded to his potential return with reporters. The former champion mention that it was a shocking but pleasant surprise when Burke called him. Wayne noted that he thanks the general manager and was immediately excited at the prospect, with Team Canada holding a special place in his heart. The Spengler Cup is the oldest tournament in professional hockey, and being named the head coach is a significant honour. Wayne iterated to Sean Burke that he would need time to evaluate the decision, considering that the cup takes place over Christmas.

Gretzky’s History

This would be the first time that Wayne Gretzky ever coached Team Canada, but not the first time he’s interacted with the sporting organization as he has represented his home country multiple times with Team Canada. However, Wayne participated in the selection of players for the 2002 and 2004 Olympic Teams. Both franchises would go on to win Olympic Gold Medals.

Wayne Gretzky has coached before the Spengler Cup. He was the Head Coach for the Arizona Coyotes from 2005 to 2009. The club was incredibly successful under his leadership, but after requiring more time with family, Wayne stepped down ahead of the 2010 Season. The last attempt Wayne had at coaching was at the Metropolitan Division All-Star Competition. He coached other legends like Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby while coaching the all-star team.

The Spengler Cup

Those interested in viewing the 2019 Spengler Cup can watch the competition unfold between December 26th and 31st. This tournament has taken place since 1923 in Davos, Switzerland. This competition was created for Professional German Hockey Players who wanted to play in European games after World War One. The event exceeded expectations and is now one of the more prestigious hockey events worldwide.

The 2019 Spengler Cup will be broadcasted through multiple television stations, such as TSN in Canada and SportsNet in the United States. European Fans can witness the tournament through Eurosport 2. Viewers from the United Kingdom can watch on the Free Sports Channel and Sport1 Station in Russia.

Best Paid Coaches in the World of Rugby

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is now only a memory. It was a tournament that delivered a significant share of the unexpected. Yet what has usually expected after such a competition is that often coaches to these teams move on to a new phase in their careers. Before they do, we want to see which of them topped the ranks of highest-paid coaches during the tournament.

  • John Mitchell – With a salary of £300 000 this defence coach to the English Roses is in fifth place. The 55-year-old rugby star was born in Taranaki in New Zealand and is a former player for the country too. Mitchell was a head coach to the All Blacks from 2001 – 2003. After spending time at various other teams in the role of head coach, he joined Eddie Jones in 2018 as defence coach to the English side.
  • Steve Hansen – Rated as the best coach in All Black history, Hansen came in fourth on the list of best-paid coaches at an impressive income of £400 000. This former policeman managed to deliver an immaculate success rate with force in black and set an impressive winning record. The rumours, however, seem to get louder that he will be leaving them soon.
  • Warren Gatland – £450 000 places Gatland in the third position. The Wales coach managed to get his team in the top four at the RWC after a great year of tremendous success. New Zealand born Gatland comes with a long and successful coaching career that stretches as far back as 1989 when he started his career at the Galwegians RFC. The 56-year-old rugby legend joined Wales in 2007, and since then they have won four Six Nations titles, this included three Grand Slams, and the team managed to reach the semi-finals in both the 2019 and 2011 RWC tournaments.
  • Joe Schmidt – Ireland’s Schmidt earns £600 000, and that made him a second position on the ranks of coaches who featured in Tokyo. He too is New Zealand born and has been coaching the Irish team since 2013. The team managed to achieve great success during this period with three Six Nations Championship behind their name, and they also maintained their first-ever victory over the All Blacks.
  • Eddie Jones – The coach to the English Roses stands at the top of the ranks with a desirable £750 000 salary. This places him quite a bit ahead of Schmidt and miles ahead of the rest on the list. The success of this Australian born coach earned him the recognition of World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2017. He joined England in 2015 and since then have taken them from strength to strength.
  • Pat Lam – Due to him not being one of the coaches in the RWC he can’t really be considered in this list, yet as Director of Rugby at the Bristol Bears, he served as head coach to the team during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby and hence this 51-year-old coach, originally from New Zealand, tops the list with £800 000.

Rassie Erasmus

This RWC is in the semi-finals phase. Thus far it has been an event filled with excitement, drama, surprise and a good deal of sadness and trauma after super typhoon Hagibis hit Japan amidst the tournament. The devastation left by this storm, equal in strength to a category five hurricane, was tremendous and many people were left homeless or injured with an unfortunate number of mortalities too. The Japanese people are a proud and resilient nation. Immediately after the storm, they started with clean-ups and rising from the devastation. Yet they aren’t the only ones showing strength and resilience during the tournament. A team that seems to be moving up in the ranks once again to former glory is none other than the South African Springboks. Under the guidance of head coach Rassie Erasmus, they have moved from strength to strength.

Rassie Erasmus

Johan Erasmus or better known as Rassie, is currently filling the position of the head coach to the national team since 2018. He is also now in the area of being the first-ever appointed South African Rugby Union Director of Rugby. He had been fulfilling this position since late in 2017. Previously Erasmus also served as the Director of Rugby for Munster in Ireland while also being the General Manager for High-performance Teams in South African Rugby Union. Erasmus represented South Africa on the field as an international player from 1997 to 2001. He started his playing career in 1994 when he was playing for the provincial team in South Africa, the Free State, during the Curry Cup that year.

His Leadership Qualities

The success which the team currently experiences is, however, due to his coaching capabilities. Players of the group refer to Erasmus as the one that broke the team’s mental shackles. Since Erasmus took over two years ago, the club underwent an entire transformation process. The players attribute this to the open and honest approach which Erasmus has with them. He is the man who took it upon himself to make decisions for the team, which influenced an entire country. He is not shying away from giving the players in the team his honest opinion about their capabilities and where they are still lacking. His team knows that he is following a leadership style of authenticity and clarity, and nothing is ever hidden away from them.

This cultivates mutual trust within the team and that way; he earned not only the respect of the group but of the entire country as a whole. Furthermore, Erasmus’s coaching style is being appreciated by his team for his ability to let everyone excel in their unique way. He doesn’t favour any player on any other determining factor other than the quality of their play hence they all know that they have earned their place in the team on merit and not on race, or anything else. These are the characteristics of a great coach, one that took it upon himself to transform a crippled team into greatness once again.

Mistakes Commonly Made by Coaches

Coaches are the people who offer leadership and guidance, the people who the team looks up to for answers and assistance, but they too are only human and hence make mistakes. Some mistakes are less severe than others, and some could be considered to be merely embarrassing, but others can have detrimental effects on coaches and teams over the long run. Let’s explore some mistakes which coaches commonly find themselves making.

Regardless of how passionate coaches are about their careers and their teams, the truth of the matter is that coaches are in a position where a lot is expected from them on both a physical as well as on mental and emotional levels. Hence they must find a balance between work and relaxation to recharge and be able to give.

Poor Systems

Having a system in which your work form is vital, but the system should fulfil the purpose of a structure and not dictate every single step taken. A coach can easily fall into the trap of getting immersed in a rigid and restrictive system which will limit his coaching opportunities and not be beneficial to the development of the team at all.

Improving unity within a team is vital and crucial for success during competition. Still, it is essential to remember that each of the members of the group is a person with individual needs and concerns as well, and the coach should not neglect these. A team is only as strong as its weakest member, and hence, it is vital to ensure that each team member can deliver their top performance.

Neglecting Voices

As much as a coach loves to share wisdom and skills, as necessary is it not to talk too much. Whenever a coach is going on talking too much or going into long team talks, it can result in players becoming shut down and not taking in what is being said at all. It is much more advisable to listen sometimes, leave moments for reflection and contemplation and emphasize the silence in between. State your message clearly and give the team time to process the message internally.

When help is needed, or something is required, which is not your field of expertise, it is advised that assistance is requested. Sometimes getting a team member involved in some other aspect of the team’s organization can improve their sense of belonging and show them that you value their contribution. This can have a positive effect on the field. Delegating some of your responsibilities to people who can take it off your hands, can free the coach up to attend to matters which is vital to the success of the team.

Robbie Fowler’s Coaching Career Kicks Off

Middle October sees the kick-off of the Australian A-League and the former Liverpool star is keen on making his mark as head coach to Brisbane Roar. This is the opportunity which Robbie Fowler has been waiting for. Up to now his experience as a coach has been limited to coaching for a short while in Thailand at the club Muangthong United. Otherwise, he has been employed at Liverpool’s academy, lacking any other coaching experience.

Fowler the Reliable Option

Even though many are aware of the lack of an extensive coaching career behind Fowler’s name, he is still considered to be a great option to bring the ailing Australian A-League team back to former glory. He does have an excellent knowledge of the league after spending some time at North Queensland Fury as well as at Perth Glory. Thus he used the words reliable and safe to describe himself once appointed to coach in the league. This might also prove to be more than mere words in the future of Brisbane Roar who already had seen some success as Fowler assisted them into some pre-season glory when they managed to grab the Surf City Cup from Perth Glory and the Newcastle Jets.

Their style of playing and especially their manner of the attack showed much promise for the upcoming season as well as their opening game against the runner-up team of last year, Perth. Fowler was very much impressed with the results when his team won the Cup and stated that even though they can still work on many small things, they have already sorted out most of the concerns. He also mentioned that the team has many good players, and they have the character needed to take them to success during the season.

The Previous Season

Last year, Brisbane Roar ended the season in ninth place. The only club behind them on the rankings was Central Coast Mariners, the basement club. The leader on the list was Sydney FC. Sydney will be opening their season against Adelaide. Adelaide is also under new management with Gertjan Verbeek, the very experienced Dutchman at their lead. Verbeek just moved on from FC Twente. Joining Verbeek and Fowler as the newbies in the league are Erick Mombaerts, the Frenchman at Melbourne City and Marco Kurtz, the German previously managing Adelaide and now in charge of Melbourne Victory.

While the two clubs from Melbourne will face each other, Western Sydney Wanderers and the Mariners and New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix and Western United will also meet in the opening matches taking place soon. Western United was included this year as the 11th team when the A-League was expanded to add one more group. Another edition to achieve a total of 12 units, is scheduled for next year.

Coaching at Young Ages

Being involved in the lives of children of any age in the role of a coach can be both challenging and rewarding. Coaching a team requires a significant investment of your time and energy and is always an undertaking requiring great responsibility. Yet, the rewards which these children reap during their involvement within team sports, as well as the life skills instilled in their lives are valuable often at a later stage. Kids who are involved in team sports and are being coached at a young age have access to many benefits. Let’s look more closely at some of them.

Greater Self-Esteem

Over the years, many studies have shown that when children are involved in team sports, it delivers a significant boost in their confidence and self-esteem. These are instilled through small acts that appear normal within the team like a pat on the back from a teammate, some words of praise, and so forth. The effect which such behavior has is, however, giving children the confidence to believe in themselves and their own abilities and to push themselves to greater heights.

Developing Their Social Skills

Our society is often lacking the needed social skills to communicate properly or to approach disagreements calmly. These social skills are instilled in players of team sports. They are bound to learn how to interact, to give verbal support and to behave within this social environment. Teams are great places to make friends with shared interests.

Accepting the Fact That Defeat is Part of the Game

Nobody likes a sore loser and being able to take defeat in your stride is a valuable life lesson. A lesson that is even more important is to bear frustration and learn from it to improve future behaviour. Sports give children the freedom to accept that also though we all like winning, it can’t always be the case.

Maintaining Discipline

For a team to be successful, every single member needs to be disciplined and focused on the success of the organization. When a player is out of order, he or she is disrupting the team and will not remain part of it for long. Therefore discipline is vital, not only to remain a promising team member but also as part of who you are, to be disciplined in all you do later on in life.

Becoming Part of the Unit

It is an ancient saying that the letter I don’t appear in the word team. Regardless of how old it is, it still rings true. Success comes from working together as one, from exerting yourself so that all may benefit from it, from being well-behaved and disciplined so that the entire team can achieve. Team sports show children that it doesn’t always have to be you who are standing in the limelight, sometimes you need to be in the shadows of support for the unit to excel.

Steven Hansen

For the first time in a decade, the All Blacks are not the number one rated in the world. Many experts put this down to mere numbers and still confess that the All Blacks are the most fabulous rugby team in the world. Their worst position ever on the world rankings was when they were at number 3 during 2003. Behind any successful team stands a strong and powerful coach. Since 2012 this man has been Steven Hansen for the All Blacks.

The 60-year-old coach was born in Mosgiel, which is part of Dunedin in New Zealand. His parents were Desmond and Lauriss Hansen, and they had a dairy farm. Hansen childhood days were spent on this farm in the Taieri Plain, and he went to school at the Outram Primary School and then later on to the Taieri High School and also, later on, he attended the Christchurch Boys’ High School. During this time he was playing for Canterbury at the top level a total of 21 times.

Early Coaching Career

Hansen entered into coaching at the Canterbury provincial rugby union. He was coaching there between 1996 and 2001. During his time there his team won the National Provincial Championship twice. During the same period, Hansen also assisted at the Canterbury Crusaders as assistant coach to initially Wayne Smith and then later on Robbie Deans.

Hansen moved to Wales during 2002 where he became the 9th coach to the team in 13 years. The team would perform well initially and then fold and lose their matches. This became a trend with the team, and it resulted in a lot of criticism towards Hansen. This reached a peak when for the first time in history, the team lost all their matches during the Six Nations Championship in 2003. During the World Cup the same year, the team excelled once again, and this stopped the criticism on his coaching skills.

Returning to New Zealand

In 2004, Hansen decided to step down as coach to Wales and returned to New Zealand where he became assistant coach to the All Blacks under Graham Henry. He was appointed as head coach to the team after Henry’s departure after their victory in the 2011 RWC and started 2012 off in his current position.

Under Hansen’s guidance, the New Zealand All Blacks have gone from one tremendous success to the next. Over his coaching period, they had won the Rugby Championships every year except in 2015 when they were the runners-up. They were also victorious of the 2015 Webb Ellis Cup; they were Rugby Team of the Year every year from 2012 – 2017. Hansen was also chosen as the World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. These are only a few of the honours and accolades which the All Black managed to achieve under Hansen’s brilliant coaching skills. Hansen and his team is a success story, evident of the influence of an excellent coach.

Mickey Arthur Lands New Gig for T20

South African coach, Mickey Arthur is on his way to New Zealand to fulfil his newly landed position as coach to the Central Stags. The 51-year-old coach was out of contract since the Cricket World Cup when Pakistan didn’t renew his contract again. He wasn’t happy about the development since he did request that his contract gets extended for another two years.

During the World Cup, the team from Pakistan suffered a severe beating against India, their long-standing arch-rivals. The team managed to finish the tournament held in England with setting a record of five victories from nine games played. The Pakistani team managed to score 11 points and only based on a net run-rate, missed out on the semi-finals. Last month when the Pakistani Cricket Board announced that Arthur’s contract would not be extended, he expressed his disappointment and the hurt which he felt, in the media. Arthur felt that during his contract with the team, he always did the best he could to improve the organization and to uplift them as a whole.

Moving On To New Zealand

Arthur has been involved in coaching the South African team between 2005 and 2010. His contribution to the Proteas was vital in their achievement of being in the first position on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings. It was also during this time which they managed to defeat England in a series once again after a drought which lasted for four decades. Arthur also had his hand at coaching the team of Australia in the past. Now he is looking forward to coaching the New Zealand team, currently the defending champions in the domestic T20, when he starts on the 1st of December. He stated that he always admired New Zealand cricket. Therefore he is looking forward to becoming part of their system. The challenge to assist the Central Stags to defend their current title is one which he is looking forward to.

The Central Districts chief executive. Pete de Wet stated that the appointment of Arthur to assist the Central Districts and especially the Central Stags to go from strength to strength is an exciting day in their cricket history. Arthur is acknowledged globally as a world-class coach. Under his guidance, the current world leaders of T20 cricket managed to obtain that leading position. It is believed that the Central Stags is already home to a group of exceedingly talented players, and now with his influence, they can only go from strength to strength. His appointment is considered to be an investment made at a brilliant time. The ICC T20 World Cup is a mere couple of months away, and with his expertise, the hope exists to see more of the players from Central Stags representing their country in Australia next year.

Great Players Don’t Make Great Coaches

It is a well-known practice in the world of professional sports to employ great players in the role of coach to professional teams. This trend is based on the belief that great players come with bundles of experience and should automatically fill the role of a great coach. This isn’t always the case.

The Role in Coaching

To a certain degree, it helps to have some experience in the game, when taking on the role of coach. It is beneficial in the sense that as a former player, you have a more excellent grasp in certain sport-specific aspects of the game, in the knowledge of tactical and technical issues. It also gives an exceptional understanding of the kind of socialization which occurs within the organization of a club or a team. Even though these are great to have, it only makes up for a tiny part of the entire role which a coach needs to fulfil. A coach is also responsible for much more in the sense of planning, constant preparations, one-on-one training and the many personal challenges which such role presents.

Different Experience Required

If being a former great player is not the be-all and end-all to being an excellent coach, then the question arises, what the contributing factors which great coaches have in common are? Often these include specific formal qualifications in sports education. Going back to Jose Mourinho as an example again. Mourinho didn’t even play 100 games during his time in the Portuguese second division, yet he is brilliant at managing one of the greatest soccer clubs globally, Manchester United. Mourinho’s background includes studies in sport science as well as the fact that he was employed as a physical education teacher; he was also a youth team coach and was involved in scouting new young players. He also filled the position of assistant coach before he became the head coach. The results of his background are reflected in his league title wins for Italy, Spain, England as well as Portugal. The main reason for this lack of much-needed experience in fields other than playing in coaches who had a brilliant playing career is because these former players haven’t had the time to gather experience in anything other than playing.

The Issues with Great Players

When team owners start to give preference to former players when they are looking to contract a new coach or manager for their teams, they are limiting themselves to a group with inadequate education and experience in much-needed fields. They also reduce the pool of possible candidates to a tiny group. Hence the best approach would much rather be to hire someone with an adequate level of experience in all the skills required to coach a team to greatness, rather than to pick someone based on their success as a player.

The Reasons Behind the All Black Success

It is always a daunting task to qualify one single team as being the best globally. There are various aspects to consider, like winning and consistency. When this topic is under discussion, the name of the New Zealand All Blacks is at the top of the list.

Statistically spoken the All Black has been performing magnificently not only in winning but also regarding consistency. Dating back as far as 1903, their average percentage on winning the games which they played in, stands on 77.09%. This is a number which they have improved on too. Taking their interest of victories over the past four years, the team delivers a 94.44% on games they have won. When a team is delivering such consistently excellent results, it is worthwhile to learn from their success. Hence following are a couple of reasons which are considered to be attributing to their immaculate history of success.

Early Beginnings

Rugby is being promoted and taken seriously from a very young age onwards. Without a doubt, often the first thing that any boy would be taught at school is how to pass and catch. Learning these skills are fundamental in their education and upbringing. During their entire career of schoolboy rugby, a tremendous amount of energy and effort is placed into improving their passing skills. Hence when they reach higher levels of play, these young players have been groomed to perfection on the fundamentals of the game.

Massive Investment Into High School Rugby

The rugby careers of players on the high school level is already a grave matter in New Zealand. New Zealand schools make a proper capital investment into the careers of students, with the top five schools in New Zealand excelling in rugby, spending more than $400 000 annually on improving their rugby programs. Their games also draw large crowds, often in numbers exceeding 7 000 spectators and it regularly gets broadcasted as well.

Moving On To Provincial and National Level

When these young players advance to more senior levels of playing, they enter this world already with the advantage of being skilled to perfection in the fundamentals of the game, in taking their sport seriously and with playing in front of large crowds. The opportunities for players at the provincial and national level are also plenty, but more so, the administration and coaching which are provided on these levels are immaculate. Therefore when players need to be picked for the national team to represent their country, they are skilled to perfection. On the federal level, most countries which they compete against are showing intervals where they had excellent coaching, but in New Zealand, they never have anything less than the best in their coaching calibre.