Coach in a league of his own
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.