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Fitzroy-ACU Senior Women's Coach John Mustafa's 2020 Season Review

24-Aug-2020

Incredible. This is the word that most resonates for me across this wonderful football club. From the Board, to the players, coaches and volunteers alike, thank you for your hard work to make the most out of a situation which no one has experienced before. The structure and culture around the place has made the transition into the role, in the most trying times in our history to say the least, smooth and easy and I felt I could be myself all while still enjoying football.

We started the pre-season in November with a burst of energy and willingness to learn and we quickly ballooned from 24 girls a night to 50-55 come Jan/Feb. This flowed into our pre-season camp which was quite enjoyable for the day I was there. Our main session was good fun and allowed me to understand the girls and the team more. The boot camp (which I missed the memo to compete in!) was gruelling, challenging and impressive when you saw the mental grit within the group.

The buy in was tremendous from the players. The drive to be successful and improve on the previous season spread through the group faster than a Usain Bolt 100m sprint. We bolted towards our intra club at Vic Park which continued to build on the momentum built at camp and the desire to get on the park and play footy.

Preparing for our next game, the girls wanted to rip the Latrobe grass up. But it was not meant to be. Unfortunately, Sharon gave me the call that the practice match was off and that the season might follow as the threat of coronavirus pandemic came into our lives . Where to next? The club swiftly rose to action to help us move forward; Constant calls and online meetings gave us clarity and comfort as we tried to do everything to keep the girls informed and engaged.

This is where I want to thank the Leaders of the group along with my coaches. The extra responsibility they took on to not only reach out to all of our girls to let them know what was happening with the club, but also check on their personal welfare, helped keep the team together at a trying time. Furthermore, the culture around the group kept the players motivated with a clear vision for the group to keep fit and engaged, ready for the chance to play if it ever came.

Moving to virtual training was a great learning curve for me and coaches. The ability to translate learning from a physical basis to an interactive, verbal, format was challenging. Luckily enough we have some amazing teachers within the group who helped with feedback to improve the sessions, engaging with the football IQ to help us all work in this new environment.

The hard work of the club, the league and players allowed us to see some in-season training which was a phenomenal result. The reaction from the girls, again was impressive. We were able to run sessions with groups of 10 then groups of 20 which allowed us to expand our drills further and engage with more of the team at one time. Being all together, seeing everyone with their mates, it really drove the group forward. The standard at training after being in isolation for so long was at a high level and it was fantastic to see everyone complying to the protocols and taking it seriously.

Unfortunately, with the spike in numbers and restrictions reinforced, it wasn't safe for us to continue which saw the season cancelled.

Despite all this, it's been an awesome year for me. To see the development of our girls, they have been a pleasure to coach, honesty throughout the time we had in person and in our online session, the coaches and playing group have not only developed as better footballers but I've continued to see them develop as people and as strong leaders in such a trying time, and that is what we're all about.

Stay safe everyone, try to enjoy the year off and come back refreshed and excited and ready to go next season because these Roys are dangerous and ready to grab the opportunity to get back out there.


Go Roys,

Online/Physical ACU-Fitzroy Senior Women's Coach

John Mustafa

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