Westfields Sports High School remains a talent factory for coaches and players

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Westfields Sports High School boasts alumni that all other sports schools in Australia would be envious of.

This year alone there have been 18 graduates of Westfields that have gone on to represent the national team, and a further 40 at a state level, something that Director of Football at the school Kory Babington is immensely proud of.

Babington says that the secret to being an elite talent production line lies with the coaching staff just as much as it does the students coming through.

“I think the coaches at the school love it. They don’t just like football more than they like teaching,” he said.

“They’re invested in it that’s why a lot of the staff members are chosen to go on and work for a-league teams, but also national teams.”

One staff member in particular, goalkeeper coach Brody Crane, has recently been given the opportunity to make the next step in his career due to his time at the school. Brody will soon be working with A-Leagues newcomers Western United, giving credit to Westfields’ development of their backroom staff along with their players.

Coming through as a former student before joining Westfields as a goalkeeper coach, Crane had a unique advantage and an excellent platform set out for him to excel.

“So being a student and then a coach, you understand how the school works and the culture attached to the school. You understand the expectations of the student athlete and the difficulties that come along with that, but also the benefits,” he said.

Crane said that there was a little adjustment period going from playing for the school to being a part of the staff, but ultimately it was a positive for him and his career.

“Automatically the dynamic changes a little because you’re on the other side of the equation, and that is developed over time,” Crane said.

“You don’t just jump and become a coach straight away, that happens as you get more experience and, and you start to understand how things are done a little bit more.”

Westfields Sports High School have always been helpful in the development of their coaches, allowing them to take on extra roles and ensuring that the staff are undertaking the latest coaching and training programs.

“He’s been involved with the under 20s girls, under 17s boys, under 20 boys, various different national teams. When they come back and work with kids daily, they (students) have just come back from an Asian cup, a world cup, or an A-League session. The school is pretty supportive in helping staff to juggle dual roles.” Babington said.

Young Matildas during the 2022 Pacific Four Nations tournament.

Brody says that doing these coaching badges has given him the opportunities that have helped his career.

“With the junior national teams, it initially started through doing some coaching courses, goalkeeper coaching specifically. And then the head of national teams’ goalkeeping asked me to be involved with the women’s side and which was the Young Matildas initially,” he said.

Allowing the coaching staff to take on these roles only improves the program for the students as well as the coaches, so it is a beneficial outcome for all of the parties involved.

“They were supportive and knew that that was professional development, and I could bring back that knowledge to the kids at school,” Crane said.

Brody believes that it is the ability to consistently work with these kids from a young age, doing a high number of sessions, that allows them to produce the talent that they have.

“Our program gives the kids more training, and it’s a lot more training at very high intensity with good players, but also a lot of technical, technically based sessions. If they can do that from a young age group, then they develop and get used to the training load, then it helps,” he said.

Babington mentions some of the players that have come through under Crane’s coaching.

“A few years ago, he took (Adam) Pavlesic and (Nicholas) Bilokapic to the World Cup, two kids from the school. They represented Australia in Brazil in 2019. Bilokapic has since gone to Huddersfield, and Adam Pavlesic made his Champions League debut in Asia at 18,” he said.

The players that have come through are a testament to the quality of coaching at Westfields Sports High, with a large number of the graduates on the precipice of senior professional football too.

Brody will cherish his time at the school and hopes to continue keeping tabs on the players he has had a hand in developing over the years.

“I’ve been involved with that program for 17 years, just as a coach and then a student, so it’s beyond 20 years as a player and a coach now,” he said.

“That’s not a role that you can just pack up and leave and not worry about. I’ve invested so much in my life and time into the kids, and you want to see them do well.”

Feature Image Credit: Westfields Sports High School

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Will Booth
Will Boothhttp://willbooth.au
Business and Sport Management student at WSU. Interest in Data analysis. Covering the Newcastle Jets ALM and ALW teams for the 2022/23 season.

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