New Calder Cannons girl’s coach Matthew O’Connor was always keen to take on a main coaching role in the NAB League, but wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon.
O’Connor, who has been involved with both the boys and girls programs previously at the Cannons, takes over the coaching role from Paul Tilley.
He said he was humbled to be be considered the right person for the role.
“It was always on the cards, as something I wanted to do one day,” he said.
“It wasn’t the plan this year. “I was actually looking at a role with SSV [School Sport Victoria].
“I messaged the boys at the Cannons saying I needed a reference. There was a conversation about whether I had a bit of time and if I could help out there and I thought for maybe one night a week.
“Russell Humphrey [female talent co-ordinator] rang me and asked me ‘would you like to be the head coach’.
“I said I would have to speak to the wife and kids first and it went from there.”
Last time O’Connor was at the Calder Cannons he was a development and line coach for the girl’s side, having been involved with the boys’ Madden program before that.
O’Connor has been involved with Greenvale’s junior girls program the past couple of years, including coaching.
He said the growth of female football at the local level was massive. “It’s an exciting time for women’s football,” he said.
“It’s really positive, all things to do with girls football.
“The growth has been incredible and it brings families into local football clubs. In my area in the EDFL, there’s now under-11s, under-13s, under-15s and under-18s. Some clubs have two teams in age groups.”
O’Connor returns to the Calder Cannons program on the back of the side’s surprise grand final appearance this season.
“They did an outstanding job making the grand final, after not really being in the top two teams at the end of the season, but they found a way to keep winning.
“To make a grand final is pretty special. That’s two out of the three years, they’ve been in the last two.”
O’Connor said only five or six players from this year weren’t in contention to be part of next year’s squad.
Georgia Patrikios and Krstel Petrevski, were drafted, while others will look to play in the VFLW.
O’Connor said those coming up from the under-16 girls Conti squad were showing some really good signs.
He said while a repeat of this season “We want the girls to love footy and when their time is finished at the Cannons they go onto their next club as better players and better people.
“It’s not just about winning games, but being better than last time. It’s fun winning games but it’s not everything. If we have the right things in place, the wins will come.”