Positive culture driving Under-15s' success

Given how positive and upbeat Head Coach Gavin Brown is as an individual, it comes as little surprise that the culture within his PGFC Academy Under-15s squad mirrors those qualities.

Brown's young charges, along with each of Glory's other junior Academy sides, have reached the top division following the split in the NPL WA competition and the former Melville coach believes the key to that success has been the environment around the group.  

"The biggest thing is that the culture's been right," he said.

"The players and staff have created a really positive environment where mistakes are encouraged because that's what you learn from.

"There's been a real commitment to training and a real positivity about the way the boys interact with each other as well as the coaches.

"We've worked to have an open forum in terms of communication because we really believe in people being able to approach us and ask questions, so there's no back-stabbing or chatting behind anyone's back; it's all out in the open all the time.

"And the boys have been very receptive and willing to learn."

In his day job, Brown teaches at John Curtin College of the Arts, one of the flagship PGFC Academy schools and he has therefore witnessed how the College's pupils have benefited from the partnership first-hand.

"It's gone really well," he said.

"COVID has obviously been an obstacle to overcome, but our players from John Curtin benefited from the relationship at that time because they got access to a  lot of the training programs that Glory's athletic development coaches were sending out and also the nutritional advice, skills and technical challenges that the coaches at Glory were providing for the Academy players.

"So that was an unexpected benefit, but in terms of the partnership so far, it's been hugely positive.

"The athletic development sessions, the kids from John Curtin have really enjoyed.

"At the drop-in sessions we've had with Steven McGarry [Academy Technical Director] Terry McFlynn [Academy and W-League Manager] and Richard Garcia [Head Youth Coach], the kids have just been buzzing and Stevie, Terry and Richie have also sat in on our enrichment lessons as well, so there's been a two-way benefit in that regard.

"They've seen what we do with the kids off the field in terms of nutrition, sports psychology and the tactical analysis video sessions we have.

"Plus Dylan Cope has come in and done a fantastic job with all of our goalkeepers.

"They've loved the training he's offered both in the morning prior to school and during school-time as well and he's gone above and beyond."

Returning to his work with Glory's Under-15s, Brown confirmed that he has thoroughly enjoyed what is his first year within the club' Academy and was quick to pay tribute to his assistant, Rob de Azvedo.

"I've loved it," he said.

"Being part of a team of really ambitious young coaches is so enjoyable.

"There's a really good camaraderie between all the Academy coaches; we're working well together and learning from each other.

"There's a togetherness there and endless discussions around tactics, or articles we've read and I'm really enjoying bouncing ideas of people and sharing sessions plans.

"It's really enhanced my coaching and hopefully this has meant that the players in the Academy are being taken to another level by all the coaches collectively.

"I must mention that Rob has been unbelievable both for me and for the group.

"He's gone out of his way to spend time on the 'phone or face-to-face with the players every single week.

"After each game, the two of us go through our match report verbally and give a rating to each player, three or four dot points on things they've done well, three or four things that they could have done better and he then forms that into the formal match report.

"He delivers that to each player personally or on the 'phone.

"His commitment has been incredible.

"He's a really caring guy who has been so important for the positive culture that we've developed and I'd describe him as my best signing!"

Looking ahead, Brown is targeting further development in both his Under-15s squad and in terms of his own coaching journey.

"It's that balance between wanting to win every game, but we also want to give the players an appropriate challenge," he explained.

"If we go two or three goals up in a game for example, we'll challenge the players by throwing three or four different formations or systems at them, so they have other problems to solve and not just the opposition.

"We'll swap their positions around so they can play a number of roles.

"We want the games to be tight and for the kids to have to overcome difficulties within a game and push themselves.

"At a personal level, I've really enjoyed working with Stevie [McGarry] and I've been so impressed by the leadership and support that I've received from all the senior coaches.

"Stevie sets high standards, but he's also super-approachable and I think I've learned a lot from him.

"I'm really ambitious.

"I'd like to get into Saturday football in terms of working with the Under-18s, 20s and First Team and I've been volunteering to sit on Terry's [McFlynn's] bench and help support him with that."

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