UH coach nets top honour
Brent Windelburn was dumbstruck when a Capital Football representative turned up at training last week and told him he would be going to the United Arab Emirates.
He will be landing in Abu Dhabi later this year to get a behind-the-scenes look at Auckland City’s preparations for the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup as part of the McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year award.
The Upper Hutt City Football Club 9th grade premiers coach knew he had won the regional coaching award but was taken by ‘‘complete surprise’’ to be named the national prize winner.
‘‘It completely blew me away. It’s nice to be recognised because you do put a bit of time and effort in.’’
Windelburn was one of seven regional finalists in the running for the national prize which is in its second year.
McDonald’s and New Zealand Football jointly run the awards and wanted to promote coaches who display positive behaviour on and off the pitch, support players positively from the touch line, introduce new players to the game and help out in their local community.
He did not know whether there was any secret to being a good coach - he just tried to get to know his players.
‘‘It’s about getting to know the kids and the team, and learning how far you can push them without being detrimental.
‘‘We’re also teaching them about life. You teach them to be good sportsmen, not just good footballers.’’
Support from Upper Hutt City FC had had a positive impact on him as a coach.
He was very excited about taking his wife on the trip to Abu Dhabi.
‘‘Just to be in another culture will be cool.
‘‘To see teams like Real Madrid will be absolutely amazing. I will get to experience what top level football is like.’’
Windelburn’s children aged 14, 11 and 9 were all keen footballers and green with envy over the trip.
‘‘The first couple of days were a bit rough, but they are getting over it now.’’
Wellington Phoenix captain Andrew Durante shows off his skills to young Upper Hutt football players Ashley Miles and Tate Devline, while Upper Hutt coach Brent Windelburn watches on.