Angela Dickson was not only a fantastic footballer, but also one of the best female football coaches to come out of Tasmania.
She became the first Launceston women’s player to reach 100 games back in 2018, and played in the previous year’s premiership. Her real rise to stardom came as she took over the head role as playing coach in 2019.
The Inner Sanctum spoke to Dickson about her coaching career to date and what makes her as a coach.
After her playing career drew to a close, it was her eagerness to learn and help impart that knowledge onto her players that got her into coaching.
“I put my hand up to do my level one coaching and then my level two,” Dickson said.
“I guess it’s that desire to want to learn more about the game and understand that game a bit better and be able to pass that information onto the players.
“It’s the leadership qualities that I’d always had was just a natural progression of my game to go into coaching.”
When it comes to her own personal coaching philosophy, it all comes down to the environment that Dickson can create for her players.
“It’s about keeping things fun but challenging,” she explained.
“It’s easy to say that you coach in the specific way or that you have a game plan based on a specific thing but in the end it comes down to the groups that you’re supporting.
“For me, I guess I coach in a way that the players want to be coached.
“I like to keep things very balanced, so for me I have a set of standards that I develop with the group, in regards to how we want to play our footy and how we want to be seen on and off the field and what kind of culture we want to have within the group.
“For me it’s about them driving that and I support them with that.”
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Managing two roles at once – Dickson the player, Dickson the coach
Dickson was able to juggle her role as a playing coach through, what she says, was all about finding the balance.
“My first year in 2019 it was a big learning curve, trying to switch my mind off a little bit,” she said.
“Especially during the games, I found that I was watching a lot… tending to stand out there and direct and watch players structures [more] than focusing on my game.
“I spoke to Mitch Thorpe who was doing the same thing with the men. I asked him about what things he does and support that he has around so that he can focus on playing.
“That’s what I pretty much did, I sat down and worked out what my role would be during games and when I would talk and when I wouldn’t, so that I knew in certain parts of the game that it was time for me to switch off as coach.
“I don’t think you can ever do that, but to go okay, I’m in player mode now, let’s look at my role and what I need to do for the team.
“Even as a player my strength was my voice and direction out there. It was developing a structure for myself so I could change from coach to player.”
Sweet Premiership glory
In the 2020 season Dickson was able to take her team to the ultimate glory, in would later become the last TSLW Premiership after the league was dissolved.
“To see those girls reach their football goals and to win the flag and for it possibly to be the last TSLW flag, that’s up there, and that will be something forever be one of the proudest moments I’ve had,” Dickson said.
“Not just as a player, but to have the team go through the year in 2019 and to not to get the medal at the end of the year, and to see the way that they worked hard and work together and to go into that game as underdogs, and come out on top, I was so proud of the group.
“You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for the next three or four days.”
Looking to the future, Dickson is continuing to build her coaching knowledge with the aim to get into the state league pathways.
“I’ve spent some time in Melbourne getting involved with North Melbourne’s VFLW side. Ideally I want to develop my coaching as much as I can so I’m not coaching this year at Launceston,” she said.
“Ideally I’d love to be involved with the NAB academies or in a VFLW program in the next three to four years… my goal is to keep learning and keep supporting female footy players to reach whatever goal it is that they have.
“It sounds [like] a cliché that I’m here to support the players, but that’s what I’m here to do and I’m happy to do it in any kind of format really.
“As long as I’m still learning and I’ve still got the ability to teach I’m happy with that.”
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