Women's Coaching Month continues and, ahead of our three semi-finals this weekend, we get to know a bit about our Thirds Assistant Coach, Alysia 'Leash' Turnbull. Read on to find out how, after seven years at the MUGARS, she made the (temporary) transition from player to coach...
Important side note: Leash just gave birth to her beautiful baby girl - as she says - just in time for finals!
How long have you been coaching for and how did you get into it?
This is my first year coaching football. I was originally going to play this year; however, plans changed and now I’m having a baby in time for finals, so sadly I missed playing this season. I didn’t want to miss the club completely, so I decided to help out at some trainings when the idea of a Thirds side came along. They didn’t have coaches in place with the season fast approaching, so I decided to stick my hand up. I don’t know if it was due to a love of football or the pregnancy hormones, but I’ve fallen in love with coaching such a great team; I’m so proud of them all.
What is your favourite thing about coaching?
It would have to be seeing the players loving the game and getting stronger and better every single week. I remember at the start of pre-season, we spent a lot of time just practicing kicking and holding the ball, and now we're seeing them all taking strong marks, kicking on the run and the majority have even kicked their first goal this season.
Has coaching taught you anything or helped you in your life outside of footy?
Coaching has really helped a lot mentally this year. Not being able to play last year due to lockdown and then this year being pregnant, still having the football family has really helped make things easier. It will hopefully make things even easier heading back next year to play, although we all know I’m not looking forward to the pre-season running and conditioning. The Thirds have learnt how much it pays off this year, though, being able to outrun other clubs!
What are the standout moments from your coaching career?
These would have to be players kicking their first goal and, of course, finishing on top of the ladder this year.
Do you have a coaching hero(ine) or someone you try to emulate?
Someone I look up to and want to learn more from is Top Dog, aka Reens. At the start of the year, before I found out I was pregnant and was going to play football, Top Dog put my name down for a mentoring and leadership job to run trainings when we could only be in small groups due to restrictions. I recall being honoured but also confused because I didn’t see myself as the strongest player, but she had my back and pointed out other leadership traits that I had, and that really gave me confidence to step up at training and run some drills once I knew I wasn’t playing. And now here I am assistant-coaching the Thirds side and loving it.
What have you missed the most in the periods away from footy in the last year?
The number one thing I’ve missed during breaks in the season is just seeing everyone, watching the games on the weekends and being able to be part of an amazing, inclusive family.
What is the best excuse you've heard for missing training?
I’ve heard multiple excuses for missing training, not only as a coach but also as a player over the years, but the main one that’s passed around is uni or work or "it’s too cold tonight, I’ll train Friday night". Come Friday night, it's "sorry, something has come up, I can’t make it, I’ll see you all on the weekend".
Any good nicknames you've received from your players?
I’ve only really had Leash and I’m okay with that; it works well.
And finally, how do you get your players to worship the ground you walk on?
Oh, that’s a hard one! I didn't realise until recently that players were actually looking up to me and that meant a lot to me. I think it’s about getting to know each of your players, allowing them a space to feel heard, learning their strengths and weaknesses and building on them individually to allow them to improve. It's also about giving them confidence and reassurance that you trust they can do it and outplay other players and teams.