A local football coach from the Northern Territory has had the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the game's elite coaches at the recent national Level Three coaching course in Melbourne.
Robert Hale – the current senior coach of Banks Football Club in the Northern Territory Football League's Premier League reserves competition – is currently undertaking his Level Three coaching accreditation, a process which is expected to take around 12 months.
The Level Three coaching accreditation is only offered to coaches at AFL and State League level, while some high performing head coaches of senior community football were considered.
The course will be a blended program, delivered both face to face and virtually, and is designed to develop broader leadership skills and competencies required to be successful in coaching and other similar high-performance football environments.
Hale has ambitions to coach at State League level and to eventually work his way into the AFL system.
"Being involved in the AFL system would be something I would want to move into at some stage, but I still have significant areas I need to improve on until I can get to that point," he said.
"I'd also like to coach at Premier League level in Darwin, but if that doesn't happen before a move to Melbourne, I can live with that."
Hale comes from strong coaching pedigree with his father Damian Hale a triple-premiership coach with NTFL club St Marys.
He has coached back-to-back U18s flags with St Marys, assisted at NTFL Premier League level with Waratah and held roles within the Northern Territory State Academy.
The 33-year-old has also previously won two premierships with St Marys as a player.
"I'm adjusting my coaching from a largely junior background to more of a senior coaching background – I am now changing my mindset to a game plan that stands up at senior level," Hale said.
"I have also started to surround myself around coaches who have coached for longer and have different opinions on the game."
Hale said there were a number of interesting takeaways from the intensive course last weekend.
"Some of the statistics from the AFL were surprising – the link between what happens on gameday and what clubs train has some differentials that I was surprised with," he said.
"It will help me tailor my training sessions to give my players the best opportunity to perform on gameday.
"The professionalism of the coaches was high, no matter the level of coaching, the coaches were largely focussed on the improvement of their players and running drills that were specific to their group's improvement."
Hale's team – the Banks Bulldogs – are sitting in third position on the NTFL Premier League reserves ladder with a win-loss record of six and two.
He believes the course and following study will help improve his coaching practice.
"I still think there are so many grey areas and different ideologies with coaching," he said.
"When you do coach training and education it gives you opportunity to test your own football philosophy and often this has made me alter my philosophy and sharpen it."