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St. Mary’s Junior Football Club

img_9219GREENSBOROUGH, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA – Leon Harvey coaches the 7-9 year old “Tackers” group in this Australian junior football league. As a coach, he is not only interested in teaching his athletes how to improve their football skills, but to use their love for the game as a platform to teach skills that will improve their lives overall. “I want the kids to get the most out of this possible,” Harvey explains. “I see football as a ‘gateway drug’ to learning and self-development. With Josh’s material I have taken advantage of the learning opportunities in sport that can apply to all parts of their lives”
For many of the children on Harvey’s team, football is much more than an extra-curricular activity. “For some, their hopes and dreams are based on their ability to perform and win, potentially creating unrealistic self-expectations,” he explains. “Some kids are quiet and reserved and suffer low self-esteem. Some are kinesthetic learners or challenged by learning difficulties, where traditional classroom teaching doesn’t work, and some are going through a rough time at home. Football is their passion and outlet, and so being a coach presents a huge opportunity to do so much more than just teach sporting skills. I use The Art of Learning as a framework that supports me to tackle these issues to build resiliency in our kids.”
“Competitive sports, like football, are a great platform for coaches to translate Josh’s material. I go back to the resources regularly to help me see the learning opportunities that present themselves on the field. There are many ways to turn experiences in the field into positive lifelong lessons using Josh’s themes: I use game defeats to teach about Investment in Loss, bad referee decisions to describe The Downward Spiral, quarter time break to practice Listening First, and the simple act of kicking a ball to teach The Power of Presence.”
In addition to exploring the learning principles with his athletes, Harvey believes it’s important to share the concepts with their parents in order to reinforce the learning at home. He sends an email to each child’s parents after every game in order to re-frame the events of the game within the context of The Art of Learning principles and highlight the learning opportunities they presented to the kids.
“I wish I had access to The Art of Learning when I was competing as a kid. I want the kids to see even when the stakes are high and the pressure is on that it’s okay to lose. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s all part of the journey of learning, trying, failing, and succeeding. I hope that my team can learn more about footy and themselves by the end of the season. Game after game the patterns will start to emerge. Even if they don’t ultimately go on to enjoy a football career, the lessons can apply in all parts of their lives.”

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