We sit down for a chat with playing assistant coach April Goldring…
You’ve had extensive experience in sport as a player and a coach. How have you seen sport help in personal development?
I’ve played sport since a young age and I think it’s all about mentally, emotionally and physically, what I get from it. It’s not just physical development but about how I mature as a young person. I’ve coached in numerous positions, I played for the Western Bulldogs, I came from a small country town to the big city and within 12 months I’m going to be a part of the first coaching panel at the RMIT Academy. I think that’s amazing, not just for me but for my family and my community, being Indigenous, being that representative and showing that they can do it. There’s plenty of people who have potential but just need that little bit of a push.
So it sounds like pride is a big part of what you’ll bring to the Academy?
This time, women are in footy. It’s an amazing time to be a part of the Academy and top support this game. I think great things are going to come from it.
What kind of experience have you gleaned from your previous coaching roles?
My first coaching position was in an AFL Victoria women’s football carnival and I was a playing assistant coach. It was a squad from Mildura and Sunraysia and we came to Melbourne and played under Richmond in a carnival, which helped not only my player development but also my coaching development. I think because I am a young, Indigenous female, that’s had so much support I’m essentially a replica of my community and of the people I’ve had around me to be able to have these opportunities. I would love to give back.
What are the most important things about being a good coach?
I think simple footy and working on the foundations. People make football complicated and I think that by having a strong sense of culture and direction and equality and good relationships at the club, your players are going to perform better and respond to you better if they are being valued and you put in the work as well. I’m a very active coach, you won’t see me standing in front of the group delivering instructions and then expecting them to do it – I’ll do it with them.
How do you balance your playing roles with your coaching roles? Is it hard to switch off what you’re doing in the middle of a quarter to look at how your line or the team is doing?
Absolutely. When I played with the Bulldogs, I was quite young so I was looking up to the older women and they were giving me the guidance of what to do. Now to be a player and have that responsibility for an entire season – not just a weekend, not just a game here or there – I think there will be a lot of communication. I’m really looking forward to finding that balance.
What are you most excited about when you look forward to this year of the Academy?
I think the development. It’s such an exciting time for women’s footy and female athletes in general. RMIT is really backing women, women in sport and the diversity that this Academy is going to have and the support that it’s already gained and that’s only going to continue. I can’t wait for season 2.0 for the development and to look a few years down the track and see what has come from a small discussion of people sitting around a table to the development and progress of girls coming down.
If you were standing with someone considering joining the Academy, what would you say to them?
I think I’d tell them to come that it’s just about giving football a go. Sport in general is a great motivator and can help everyone. A football team is very much a family – we spend a lot of time together in a massive team environment and know that you’re going to be supported, no matter what skill you have, everyone’s equal, we’re all there for individual reasons and we’re all there to play footy.