Turn­bull the teacher for fe­male foot­ball

Fremantle Gazette - - SPORT - Ben Smith

HE may have taken the scenic route, but Ryan Turn­bull has fi­nally found his way back to teach­ing.

The West Coast Ea­gles life mem­ber qual­i­fied as a phys ed teacher in 1991 but, as he put it, “foot­ball got in the way”.

Now, he has fi­nally found his way into teach­ing, ex­cept his class­room is a foot­ball oval and his school is the West Aus­tralian Fe­male Foot­ball Academy, which will next month host school hol­i­day clin­ics at West Coast’s home of Min­eral Re­sources Park.

The academy is the brain­child of Turn­bull (pic­tured) and his for­mer team­mate and fel­low Ea­gles life mem­ber Chad Mor­ri­son, and was created by the pair af­ter they re­alised while there were plenty of tal­ent pro­grams and elite path­ways avail­able to up-and-com­ing male foot­ballers, there was a gap in the mar­ket for fe­males.

The academy runs clin­ics, pro­grams and one-on-one train­ing to de­velop foot­ball knowl­edge and abil­ity at all lev­els of the game, from would-be AFLW stars to older play­ers keen to step back into footy.

“A lot of these girls haven’t had the years and years of foot­ball back­ground, so they’re try­ing to fast-track it,” Turn­bull said.

“We just try and break it down, not just the skill side of it but the tac­ti­cal side as well.

“You hear a lot of sto­ries, you talk to a lot of the AFLW girls now, and they’ll say they played ju­niors but when they turned 13, they were told ‘off you go and play net­ball or hockey, the com­pe­ti­tion is fin­ished’.”

The gap Turn­bull and Mor­ri­son are try­ing to bridge is not just a tech­ni­cal and tac­ti­cal one, but also an in­jury-pre­ven­tion one.

“You’ve got (girls) step­ping into footy, not nec­es­sar­ily have done Aus­kick, but step­ping in now as a 12, 13 year-old and are re­ally keen to get in there, but just need that ground­ing,” Turn­bull said. “In many cases, some of these girls are com­ing from non-con­tact sports, so we want to make sure they’re pre­pared and set their body up so that they can ab­sorb the con­tact.”

Turn­bull said his in­volve­ment with the women’s side of the game brought him im­mense sat­is­fac­tion and hav­ing been in­volved with West Coast’s AFLW side in their in­au­gu­ral sea­son, the 1994 AFL Premiershi­p-win­ning ruck­man said the stan­dard at the top level was only go­ing to rise.

“I think the fu­ture of fe­male footy is re­ally ex­cit­ing, you can see it ev­ery year in the com­pe­ti­tion at the top level, it’s just got bet­ter and bet­ter,” he said.

“Give it a few years and girls will have done Aus­kick and maybe come through the pro­grams we do as well. The com­pe­ti­tion is go­ing to be 20 times greater than it is to­day and I think it’s a pretty good comp al­ready.”

The academy’s next clinic takes place in the Oc­to­ber school hol­i­days at West Coast’s home of Min­eral Re­sources Park and will fea­ture AFLW play­ers Dana Hooker, Par­ris Lau­rie and So­phie McDonald as well as ex-Ea­gles Fraser McIn­ness and Ja­cob Bren­nan. Reg­is­tra­tions can be made on­line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.