With female participation in sport being a strong focus for clubs and it rapidly increasing, female coaches could be considered the next step in shifting the stereotypes. We interviewed Camden Tigers’ Technical Director for Girls and Womens Football, Julia Chernoukha and asked about her experiences in football. Her answers during our conversation are paraphrased in the article below.
PASSION FOR THE GAME
“My Grandfather took me to play football with the boys…”
Julia grew up in Eastern Europe up to the age of around 10 and had a special relationship with her grandfather.
“My grandfather took me to a local dusty high school field to play football with the boys when I was about 5 or 6 years old.”
“This is where the football mindset and passion for the game began.”
After moving to Australia, Julia started playing at Pagewood Botany FC in 1999 when she was 14.
The team Julia played in was an All Age Women 1’s, because there were no junior girls sides.
“It was a very mixed bag with large age gaps between many of the players… I grew up very quickly in that team.”
Throughout her playing career Julia moved between Pagewood and the representative side for UNSW. As an aspiring footballer, she played against the likes of the Khamis sisters and other Matildas that were plying their trade in the NSW Premier League at the time.
THE SIGNIFICANT MOMENT FOR WANTING TO BECOME A COACH
“I was 19 at the time and took on the role of Girls Executive on the committee …”
An influential role model in Julia’s life was her coach at Pagewood who also happened to be the club president at the time.
“The year that I went to reps, he tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I need somebody to help me form some junior girls’ teams’”.
“I was 19 at the time and took on the role of Girls Executive on the committee.”
Along with coordinating the formation of these teams, Julia ended up coaching one of the first Junior Girls teams in the Eastern Suburbs, kickstarting junior female football in the area.
WHAT THE COACHING JOURNEY HAS LOOKED LIKE
“Learning on the job is the best way…”
Julia acknowledged the contribution that her coaches had on her own development as a person across her various roles.
“I picked up a lot along the way, playing in reps and absorbing from the coaches I had, and then taking it back to my own coaching style.”
Julia described, ‘Learning on the job’ as one of the most effective ways to develop as a coach.
Julia coached for 17 years straight at Pagewood and had a variety of roles in between, including jumping on the association board where she managed the women’s competitions for two years.
Julia finished up coaching with Pagewood 2 years ago and is now the Technical Director for Girls and Women’s Football at Camden Tigers FC and a Committee Member on the Football NSW Women’s Standing Committee, as well as still being club Secretary at Pagewood Botany FC.
“I wouldn’t call them challenges…I’d call them experiences that have made me grow as a coach…”
When asked about challenges she had faced in her coaching career, Julia had a positive outlook on her experiences even though there are always challenges like dealing with parents, helping teenage girls work through their challenges and the standing of female coaches compared to male coaches.
“Parents wanting to be too ‘hands on’ and causing issues within the team environment has always been and still is a challenge to this day. Nowadays I try to help other coaches deal with these problems.”
“At the end of the day, going through those things and dealing with those situations, actually makes you stronger as a coach and as a person.”
As Julia moved through the coach education ranks, she found that it was difficult to be considered for first-grade gigs.
“I was given the teams that needed nurturing and caring, and somebody that was going to have the patience to get the best out of the girls. Not necessarily winning things but helping them develop as people.”
“And you know what, I’m proud of that. I believe that having a positive impact on a young person’s life is the most rewarding thing you can do.”
One of Julia’s aspirations for the future is to continue developing young coaches at Tigers through a long-term strategy and a strong culture.
Julia is now starting her journey as a coach educator in the Macarthur Football Association and will be part of the coach education team for 2022.
For more information about how you can be involved in coaching or coach education, contact the MFA Community Football Manager at Kevin@macarthurfootball.com.au