State Touch Trials

This weekend was the SASSSA/TouchSA Touch trials. I coach the 15s Girls’ team, and we had a great turnout again. More than 40 girls, with most of those of an extremely high standard. We’ve selected a squad of 20 girls who I’ll train over the next month or so, before choosing my final team of 14 and shadows. I’m looking forward to the trip to Darwin in mid-September…

Return to Men's

Well, first game back in Men’s A Grade, and a fair start it was too. Playing with a about 4-5 guys I’ve coached, and two I’ve actually played with, along with a whole host of new guys (including one playing his first game!), it was, as always, a little slow to start. New teams generally tak e while to iron out all of the bugs. About level with Diamontec at half time, we drew away from them in the second half. Lacking fitness, I had to rely on skill (that’s a dangerous choice!), and managed to post home a couple of touchdowns myself. The last of which was really only because Paul and Hully wrapped around me, but the nice little fake settled it. The nicest thing is that after a 6-2 victory, we are top of the ladder! No Dumps next week, at 6:15. Should be a bit more challenging, I’d say…

(Legitimate) Mass Email

I’m in a situation where I need to send out large numbers of emails - now, settle down, I’m not talking Spam! Rather, I am the _Member Communication/Liason Officer _for a sporting organisation, and need to send many emails out to either a subset of the community, or in some cases, the whole community. I’m thinking about different methods to streamline my communication processes. I think I have a few options: Mail.app and Address Book. Using the Groups feature of Address Book, I can send out emails to the right combination of people who need to receive them. For instance, I can have a Men’s Open group, a Women’s Open group, a Juniors group (not really required anymore), a coaches group, a committee group and so on. This should work pretty well, but will require me to have all of the up-to-date information in Address Book. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I need to ensure that Word/Excel can use this as a source (we have some custom generated forms that need to be populated), or custom-generate some sort of interface solution. Perhaps I should add extra fields to Address Book, and use that as my database. The other option is to go the whole hog and create a Database (MySQL, or something similar) that I can use to store the data in. Ideally I’d like to have an online one, as then I can access it from work if I need to. Otherwise, I’ll only be able to send out emails and so on when at home. That is the big disadvantage of the first solution. The other possible disadvantage of this method is that with a large number of emails, I may look like a Spammer. Which brings me to the other option - a dedicated mass-emailer. Of course, this itself may make me look like a Spammer - emails may be rejected just because they use a particular X-Mailer: header, or something strange like that. A better solution might be to custom-roll an AppleScript solution that generates individual emails from a list. This could be a goer. Kind of like a Mail-Merge, but and Email-Merge. I’d like to be able to do this as an Apple Mail plugin, but a stand-alone app might be easier. Then I can write it in AppleScript Studio. I’m liking the sound of this: extend Address Book so it has (for instance) Coach, Referee and Selector fields (for an indication of NCAS/ATA Accreditation level) and so on, and combine this with some fancy AppleScripting to allow for personalised emails, and generation of reports. Next week, maybe. When I’ve finished writing all of the Year 12 SARs.

National Championships

I’ve spent the last week in Darwin, NT, coaching a team in the School Sport Australia National Touch Championships. This is my fourth year coaching the SASSSA 15s girls team, and I just thought I might share some thoughts on my experiences this time around. Coaching a junior girls team has plenty of it’s own challenges, but really this age group is my favourite. I couldn’t handle coaching a little bit younger: I see how much work the 12s coaches have to do just to get the players to take the field, and I certainly wouldn’t want to coach 15s boys. It’s nice that it **is **possible to get your players to comply with instructions. I had the experience this year of coaching some Mens teams: State League and then Mitchell Cup, and whilst I enjoyed it, I’m not about to stop coaching the 15s just yet. The tour began with a nice early plane flight to Darwin - we left Adelaide at around 7:30am on Sunday, after an early night before following the team (and parents) dinner. Obviously the girls were excited, and with only 3 second year players, I knew this was going to be a challenging tour - on the field at least. The other big change of this year was that the girls weren’t billeted. Instead, the 14 of them, plus the 14 boys, were all staying together, with 5 officials. Two coaches, two team managers and a tour manager. It meant we had to look after them each night every night, and couldn’t socialise with the officials from interstate to the extent we had in the past. Stepping off the plane into Darwin airport you already knew it was hot there. I’d tried to psych myself and the girls up for this, but unless you have been there you just cannot understand the climate. It doesn’t get below 25 C overnight, and is always 34 C during the day at this time of year. We had a light training session on the day of arrival, quite late in the afternoon, on the foreshore near the esplanade. Not quite enough room to train, but enough to get some idea of what the climate was going to do to us during a game. Rehydrate. The one word I would say more than any other during the week. Day one of competition brought us face to face with Queensland - who as it turned out would eventually go on to win the tournament. Now, for those a little unfamilar with Touch in Australia, it’s always Queensland v. New South Wales in the finals. No-one else really gets close, and it’s likely to stay that way for the forseeable future. When you compare a state like SA where no-one plays Touch that much, to a state where they all play Touch, there’s just no competition. So the result for the first game was a given. 18-0 in the end. Close to my worst result against them, but at least we kept them to 6 in the second half. The second game for the day was against Western Australia. In recent years WA have been quite strong, but their team was not quite up there this year. They still beat us 3-1, but we were competitive. Possibly my best result against the West. Day two had two very winnable games: Tasmania and NT, the home state. Both teams we beat last year, and comfortably too. Tassie up first, and we really looked the part. Unfortunately, they managed to outscore us, and we lost 3-2. A big break before the night game against NT, but it didn’t help us. The best NT team I’ve seen rolled over the top of us 10-0. One player short due to disciplinary reasons was not the deciding factor! The wednesday is a rest day, and this year we went to the Adelaide River, and saw the famous jumping crocodiles. Apparently our red shirts were distracting them, but they were still rather impressive. Especially stumpy.

Stumpy, the Jumping Croc

That night we had the officials dinner, and I had to give a speech. Ashley, our Tour Manager was receiving an award for 10 years (actually 12, but they forgot to award him the previous two years!) service. I loved how he started his speech:

I had prepared a speech for the previous two years, but didn’t bring one this year because I thought I wasn’t going to get the award this year either!

The most amusing thing was how Marie, who also received an award, started her speech (which, incidentally, preceded Ashley’s):

I wasn’t sure if I was going to receive an award this year, as I thought you had to do 12 years of service to get the 10 year award.

Do you notice the common thread? Day three of games, and the hardest day. A three game day, with Victoria, ACT and then New South Wales. Two games we should have won, and one I wasn’t even treating as a game. But again we struggled, only managing to hold a draw with Victoria, 2-2. ACT we looked all over them, but they managed to sneak a couple of touchdowns through our line, even though we held them up our end for nearly 95% of the game. In the first half, they only got down past their 10m line three times! And two of these were their run-through touchdowns! We managed only one, a great run from Mel. NSW up next, and we actually had to take this more seriously than I had planned, as it meant the difference between 7th and 8th, and games versus Tas or ACT in the finals. 7-0 in the first half, but we ran out of legs, and they finally ran over us 17-0. Still, we kept them to no scores for most of the second half, except the last two minutes when they ran in 10 quick ones. Or something like that! Finals on the friday, with a late start, and we played ACT first. Whether they were holding back int he round game, we really didn’t look competitive. 6-1, perhaps the largest difference I’ve had in an ACT game. Last year they managed to only beat us int he round game after the siren, but I’m yet to beat Toppies girls. Maybe next year. Last game of the tournament, and still yet to bag a win. It was the two winless teams, us and Vic, in the big 7th v 8th playoff. We looked to be all over them early in the game, but couldn’t manage to get the ball down over the line. Then, horror of horror, they got a couple of quick touchdowns. We continued to keep the ball up our end, and finally were rewarded with two ourselves. 2-2 at half time, and time to get pumped up. The game thus far had been rather hard, with Victoria being penalised 6 or so times for hard touches, and us none. Yet still the referees warned us of being sent if we infringed! Surely after 6 hard touches in the first half they might have sent one of their players, but alas. No juice. I warned the girls to be careful, and to their credit they were. Late in the second half, after a hard-fought game, Des, our captain, received a penalty around our defensive 10m line. A quick tap, and she was through their line, running hard for the scoreline. She made it, and we led for the first time that game - possibly the first time in the tournament. We managed to hold them out for the rest of the game: no mean feat considering we were down to 12 players, missing our best performing winger; and one of the key playmakers and vice captain. But, the game was ours. The sweet taste of beating Victoria. I was concerned the kids would play up a bit on the last night: we no longer had the stick of missing a game to hold over them, but they were pretty good. I stayed up pretty late, but noone even looked like sneaking out of their rooms. The flight back was routine - Fever Pitch was apparently remade recently starring Drew Barrymore and about the Red Sox, not Arsenal, but it was still a good film. Lots of the girls were pretty emotional at the airport - I even received a group hug from all of them as I prepared to leave. I wonder if they were just a more emotional bunch than I have taken away - perhaps that’s why they didn’t perform as well until I really pumped them up before and during the last game. Or perhaps having them stay together and with us helped us all create stronger relationships. Maybe looking after them wasn’t so bad after all.

TouchSA Job Opportunity

Project Officer - Communication & Game Development Touch football is one of South Australia’s favourite sports with 14 affiliated competitions running across the state which include large numbers of women and juniors. The state body is also responsible for the administration and management of its State and National representative programs. Due to changes in the management structure of the sport Touch SA has the opportunity to introduce the new position of Project Officer - Communication & Game Development. This newly formed position will be responsible for the daily running of the states largest competition City Touch situated in the Adelaide Parklands as well as working on other programs and projects being delivered by the state body. The successful candidate will possess the following qualifications and experience.

  • Demonstrated success in project management.
  • Demonstrated success in the delivery of sporting programs.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills supported by interpersonal skills of a high order.
  • Demonstrated high level negotiation and facilitation skills.
  • Demonstrated experience and skills in volunteer management.
  • Demonstrated ability to consistently display customer services principles, practices and attributes.
  • Demonstrated initiative and self management.
  • Tertiary qualifications in sport management or related field desirable.

An information pack is available on the Touch SA website at: www.touch-sa.asn.au A remuneration package commensurate with qualifications and experience will be negotiated with the successful candidate. For further information contact Gavin Macdonald on 08 8373 3222. By close of business on Friday 15 July 2005, applicants should email a brief overview of their qualifications and experience as they relate to the selection criteria above, together with a resume containing contact details of referees to: Membership Services Manager South Australian Touch Association membershipservices@touch-sa.asn.au

Mens Touch

Central Scorpions Touch Association Mens Open had their first training session yesterday. I am the coach. I’ve coached plenty of Womens and Girls touch, and the occasional boys team, but this is the first time I have coached a team of Real Men (tm). It is kind of intimidating (and I probably need to stop worrying about stepping on feelings), but I’m quite looking forward to it.

Recent Touch Stuff

I spent all day yesterday coaching the Mariners, one of the two South Australian Men’s Open Mitchell Cup teams. The Mitchell cup was a new project run by TouchSA (specifically Tracey Frith), and was intended to provide a better standard of games than the State League competition, as a build up to the State Teams. Selection for Men’s Open and Women’s Open teams, as well as a Mixed Open team was made during the Mitchell Cup, and teams were announced at the Presentation Night. I’ve also been asked to be one of the Assistant Coaches of the SA Men’s Open team. Since some of the training sessions will clash with the SASSSA 15s Girls trainings, I won’t attend those. But, hopefully, I’ll travel up to Mildura for the hitout against Victoria in four weeks. If that doesn’t clash too much with the renovations we’re doing at the moment. Anyway, the Mitchell Cup was a success (not so much for my team, although we did win one of three games, and really took it up to them in the final game, before a Colm Maguire double-touchdown streak ended our hopes of winning the inaugural Mitchell Cup). Selections were announced, and several of my good mates, and Mariners players were selected. I was surprised at some of the selections, but I know how sometimes someone looking in from outside doesn’t know exactly what the selectors were looking for, so I won’t criticize the final team. One of the girls I took to the 15s Nationals last year was selected into the Women’s Open team, as well as another who I took away a couple of years ago. The fact that a player who is 16 is selected into the Open side (we also run an 18s team, which she also played in a month or so ago) shows just how much potential she has. Jess, if you read this, I’m so proud of you. I’m sure you’ll perform as well at Mildura as you did (once you got over your cold) at the Gold Coast last year. Anyway, it’s only 6 weeks until we travel to Darwin for the 15s, and we are starting to hit some good form. There are a few of the girls carrying injuries, and some of them have had the flu over the past fortnight. When the two youngest players in the team each score a touchdown against men, and both of them by stepping a fully grown man, you know you have some players with a whole lot of potential. (It was funny to hear how guys who get burned by a 13-year-old and their teammates react. “The only reason they scored that touchdown was because fell over.” I spoke to Katie, and told her that one of our opposition said that. I asked her why the guy fell over, her response: “Because I snapped him.”)

Touch Draws

Thanks to the fantastic new filter at school which blocks any blogger blogs (http://*.blogspot.com), I can’t post to the csta website, so I’ll write the draw in here instead.

Monday * CSTA Experiments: 7:05 * CSTA Assassins: 7:55 * CSTA Datsun 180B: 8:45 * CSTA Derelique: 7:05 * CSTA Sparkle Motion: BYE

Wednesday * Where’s The Kentish: 6:05 * CSTA Berry Spoons: 7:45

Thursday * CSTA Mixed Lollies: 6:55 * Arab Steed Pornstars: 7:45

Colley Reserve

Well, I’ve just come home from the most fun tournament on the TouchSA calendar. The Colley Reserve 5-a-side tournament is down at Glenelg, and is a single day tournament that is stacks of fun. My team was a UniSA+others team, organised by Paul Rogers. We managed to remain undefeated until the Grand Final, when the hand-picked “The Drought” team, with all current or ex-state and/or Crusaders _players, beat us 3-1. We had been very strong all day, with the highest score (it’s a 20-minute turnaround game) 10-0, and the best for and against record. We comfortably won the Semi-final against a team from Gawler, but struggled against _The Drought. Thanks to all of my team for a good fun day.

SSSSA Touch 2007 Report

Here is a report on the 2007 School Sport Australia Touch Football tournament I wrote for the Touch Football South Australia website. Not sure if it is up there yet, but here’s what I wrote anyway.

Secondary School Sport SA, in conjunction with Touch Football SA, were again represented this year at the School Sport Australia National Championships. With Monash University providing a fantastic site, including newly surfaced fields, it was nice to actually have grass under our feet.

The teams travelled together, and having had a much closer relationship throughout the training campaign than in the past, this set the tone for the trip. With a direct flight from Adelaide to Melbourne, at not too unreasonable a time, both teams were pumped for the weeks competition. After arrival in Melbourne, and a long bus ride from Tullamarine to the accommodation, the players were met by a blast of un-Melbourne-like hot weather.

The good weather didn’t hold for the whole week, however, with rain on most of the competition days. At least the sun was out for the trip to the MCG on the Wednesday, where our lovely tour guide, Brian, provided us with a fun, interesting tour of the famous ground.

Competition was tough on the first day of games. With both boys and girls teams facing the big two - QLD and NSW - it was always going to be hard work. Both teams showed plenty of spirit against well drilled and capable players from the eastern seaboard, with the boys managing a touchdown against their QLD opponents.

The second day of games was much more interesting. With three potentially winnable games against Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia, both teams were eager to win, but were disappointed with their performance in the morning games. The boys in particular looked to have the game in hand, but struggled to keep the Tasmanian boys from scoring enough touchdowns to steal a draw in the dying minutes. The girls came back from this result to resoundingly beat Victoria in their second game of this day, and were finally looking like they had travelled for a reason. However, they ran out of legs in the final game of the day, and couldn’t manage to keep WA’s half runners from finding their targets.

As mentioned previously, after the strenuous second day of competition, the Wednesday was a day of rest, with a trip to the MCG, and then to IMAX cinema for an entertaining, yet still educational movie about Dinosaurs.

The final round games were against “The Territories”, with opportunities to beat both ACT and NT going begging in both games. By this time the strain of the tournament was starting to show on the bodies of the players - whilst the fields had grass on them, they were still hard enough to leave a nasty graze.

The finals were another chance for both teams to play against teams they could have beaten the first time around. Again, whilst at times it looked like both teams could have won their way through to the Plate Final, the girls struggled against a young yet effective Tasmanian team, and the boys were unable to top the NT team. And so it came to the 7v8 playoffs. The SA girls again managed to dispatch the Victorians, with a great captain’s effort by Georgia Brown to score four touchdowns in the one game, and Beth Fairfield almost winding up to top speed to score a couple more. The boys battled valiantly, but again struggled against Tasmania, who outscored them in the second half.

A hard, yet enjoyable week. With mostly first-time players in both teams, some new to touch football altogether, and many being eligible to play again in 15s next year, the trip to Launceston for next year’s tournament promises to be just as much fun. As our state develops and these junior players filter into our senior ranks, you can bet you’ll see plenty of them playing at a high level in the future.

Awards.

Boys.

  • Coaches - Tom Starkey
  • MVP - Alex Peecock
  • Players Player - Billy Macklin

Girls.

  • Coaches - Abbey Freer
  • MVP - Kelly Rowe
  • Players Player - Georgia Brown