Shane Thomas never imagined he would one day end up becoming a volunteer junior football coach, let alone winning the title of 2019 Regional Junior Football Coach of the Year for Auckland, that is until two years ago when he found himself an unexpected stand in coach for his son’s football game and he’s never looked back.
Shane admits that he was a little embarrassed at first (on receiving the trophy) as he doesn’t coach for the recognition, but for his love of football, but is incredibly proud of his team who are a testament to the game.
“It’s been such a high division this year and they have grown and worked on their skills so much, I couldn’t be prouder.” he says.
In his two years of coaching Shane says he still has a lot of work to undertake but has been working hard on his own skills including taking part the New Zealand Football Skills Centre, a structured enjoyable programme for players aimed providing a co-ordinated approach to junior footballers ages 9-12 years of age that maximises player development and coaching support development.
As junior coach, Shane understands the important role he plays in imparting the love of the game and says that outweighs results any day but says as with any sport, there are challenges and the hardest part is often dealing with parents with a difference of opinions, or their focus on winning every game, but says football frame work, wins and losses shouldn’t matter and what is important is that child getting out there and enjoy playing because they love it.
“As adults we lose that innocence and it becomes ingrained in us to win every game. It’s not about that for kids.” says Shane.
As a full time manager of a metal fabrication company, he deals with adversity every day and wants parents to have that passion on the side lines, but recognise that their child’s involvement is more important, or at least channel that passion into becoming volunteer coaches themselves.
“As a parent and coach, I know how rewarding it can be and seeing those kid’s smiles is worth more than anything. Every kids looks up to their coach and we want to encourage more parents to volunteer their time and let them know that there is support out there for them.
“It’s not just football, its life,” says Shane.
Next season, Shane plans to continue coaching and is looking forward to the Junior Development Programme that provides children (4-12) with high quality Football and Futsal (football played indoors on a hard pitch) experiences that increase their passion for the game, fundamental movement and playing skills in a fun environment. He will also front the NZ Top Flight Football Coaching Academy and hopes to begin gaining resources to form a mentoring programme for volunteer coaches.