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Fuelling Future Footballers
19 July 2016

Football West:  Foundation Elective workshop

19 July 2016, Football West, Maylands

story by Brad Scott: WAIS & Athletics Australia athlete, Paralympic Games 800m, 1500m runner

 

Walking into the Football West Headquarters in Maylands I saw that the walls were covered in posters featuring team values, communication, strategies and more. This brought a massive smile to my face. However, it’s very rare to see a young athletes not only understand, but convey the qualities that all great teams possess. This is why I was blown away by the athletes in the Football West’s Women’s U19 State Team.

Heather and I kicked the night off with a subject that I believe every person (athlete or not) needs a sound understanding in, Nutrition. It does not matter what skills or talents you possess if you don’t give your body the appropriate amount or source of fuel. With nutrition, for an athlete to perform at their best, they need a combination of three food types; carbohydrates, proteins and fats (let’s not forget how important water is too). The quantity and ratio of each will depend on the individual needs of each athlete. So it is important for every athlete to understand themselves and the demands of their chosen sport(s).

 
 
 
 
 

I stressed to the athletes how important it is for them to understand and record what they put into their bodies. I shared how I personally do this by building a plan and studying the nutritional information on every item I purchase. Then after I consume a product, I record the food in the ‘My Fitness Pal’ App (Quick plug: There are a few great Apps, but this App is super simple as breaks down your daily amounts and ratios for each food type).  Delving deeper and the athletes built an understanding that what you put in your body can have a positive or negative affect on your performance. Because as these athletes now understand, nutrition is one of the ways that we communicate to our bodies, informing it of how we would like to perform.

You know that feeling of trying to navigate yourself around a pitch black room? Well then, you will appreciate how difficult it was for the athletes as they walked a lap of the room, blindfolded, dodging tables and chairs. The only assistance they received was from one of their teammates, whose job it was to verbally guide them. The guide athletes quickly realised that they needed to be very descriptive and selective with the words they used. The use of orders like; ‘Watch out for the chair!’ or ‘turn forward’ were found to be counterproductive. So they started to consider what it would be like in the blindfolded athlete’s shoes, and started to give orders they could easily understand, like; ‘turn 90 degrees to your right’ and ‘take two steps to your left’.  This activity was a very powerful lesson in the choice of our words and the way in which they are conveyed.

 
 
 
 

After a quick dinner break, we finished off by looking into the people involved in an athlete’s life and how these relationships can impact their performance, both positive and negative. With most of the athletes living at home and being too young to drive, mum and dad were high up the list. Next up was their coach and teammates. After that, there was a huge variety of the types of people involved in each athlete’s life. When the athletes compiled their list, I asked two questions; "Are you grateful for their support and assistance?” and "How do you show your gratitude to these people?” We then went around the room and suggested ways on how we can show our gratitude to these people. I then left them with one last thing to ponder, I said "If you think about the people you love being around, I guarantee that they add value to your life and relationship… How are you adding value to the important relationships in your life?” Because for any athlete to succeed they need people to help them. If all an athlete does is take, they will make their life tougher than it needs to be. However, if they show gratitude, maybe give back once in a while, they will build a very powerful team around them.

And that is exactly what this team was, powerful. Heather and I tested the team on some key performance fundamentals, and their ability to listen, communicate and collaborate was very impressive. The team understood that every player has a voice and is a leader, that if they wished to share information, they could do so freely. I must say that I am very excited for the future of women’s football in WA. These athletes are going to be great leaders.

 
 
 
   
 
 
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