Coach in a league of his own

Canning Times - - NEWS - Ben Smith

WILLETTON Ju­nior Foot­ball Club un­der-12s are be­ing put through their paces by some­one who has rubbed shoul­ders with two of Aus­tralian rules foot­ball’s best.

John Green­wood (74) is a for­mer Vic­to­rian Foot­ball League player turned ju­nior foot­ball coach.

He played at Footscray and South Mel­bourne in the mid 1960s, where he was coached by Ted Whit­ten and played along­side three­time Brown­low Medal­list Bob Sk­il­ton.

Now he is pass­ing on his knowl­edge to the next gen­er­a­tion, with a fo­cus on player en­joy­ment.

His daugh­ter Ja­nine is team man­ager and said her fa­ther made sure ev­ery player got a fair run, re­gard­less of their skill level.

“We’ve got kids of all abil­i­ties but Dad doesn’t treat them any dif­fer­ent,” she said.

Green­wood’s wife Con­nie said he cared about the kids’ en­joy­ment of the game more than any­thing.

“At the start of the year they had more kids than enough, but John wouldn’t let two of them go be­cause he’d hate to see the kids turned away,” she said.

Green­wood said his mes­sage was sim­ple: get the ball, share it around and play with a smile.

“If you play as a team, gen­er­ally you’re go­ing to win. If you get out there, help one an­other, and do the small things, it’s pretty straight­for­ward,” he said.

Un­der Green­wood’s guid­ance, the team has qual­i­fied for the fi­nals and two of its play­ers made the Un­der 12s state team, in­clud­ing grand­son Jaxan.

While the coach is firmly fo­cused on mak­ing sure the team en­joys foot­ball, he did ad­mit it would mean a lot to see one of his young play­ers play pro­fes­sion­ally.

“When I coached in Vic­to­ria, two of the kids went on and played league footy and you can’t get a bet­ter re­ward than that,” he said.

Green­wood has been nom­i­nated for the Depart­ment of Sport and Recre­ation’s True Sport cam­paign, which high­lights clubs and in­di­vid­u­als giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity via grass­roots sports.

John Green­wood (far right) ad­dress­ing the Willetton Ju­nior Foot­ball Club un­der-12s at train­ing.

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