BY GUS RIDDER
East Brighton Vampires Junior Football Club (JFC) player Olivia (Liv) Hamilton has been recognised as the Monash University Leader of the Month for July.
Liv, 17, begun her South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) career in 2018 with the Caulfield Bears JFC before moving to play for the East Brighton Vampires JFC this season.
Liv has been recognised as the Monash University Leader of the Month due to her brilliant efforts as a development coach with the Caulfield Bears Under 12 Girls team.
Already a valued member of the club as a player, Liv’s ability to bring positivity and fun while coaching the Under 12 Girls side has been widely applauded by those at her club.
The opportunity to coach emerged when the side she played for faced an uncertain future due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
“I was looking for other things to do with my Sunday and how I could still be involved with football. The league introduced the development program, and my mum was very encouraging. A lot of leaders in the club had talked to me about it and they thought that coaching would be a great opportunity for me, so I did it”, Liv said.
As a vital part of the coaching staff, Liv has introduced music, dancing and singing to training sessions.
“We mostly play the latest pop-music. When I’ve got to choose, we’ve played some ‘country’, which is my type of music. Not many of the kids took to that”.
Despite differences in music taste, her coaching style has been greatly appreciated by the Under 12 Girls. The small gap in age with the players has allowed for a different relationship compared to other coaches or staff members.
“It’s like being a big sister. We talk freely, talk about what they did at school while we’re practicing our kicking. They listen to me, but they’re also my friends”, Liv said.
When speaking to the SMJFL about why she believed she was nominated, Liv acknowledged the importance of recognising and appreciating female coaches in football.
“Since girls’ football has been growing rapidly, and the focus of many clubs has been to encourage female coaches, this might have been a reason why I was nominated”, Liv said.
“Because girls’ footy is still in its early days, we really want to encourage girls to keep coming back. We want to show that it’s not just a hard, physical sport and that we can have a lot of fun doing it too”.
Trailblazing women’s football coach and SMJFL league ambassador, Peta Searle, has been a role-model to Liv and an influence on her coaching style.
“Both my Mum and I are Saints fans, and we try to go to as many games as we can. It was great to see a female leader in the AFL, I love the way Peta connected with the girls”, Liv said.
So far, there have been no clashes between coaching and playing, with Liv being able to commit to both throughout the season.
“I’ve been fortunate to never have a clash (between the two). Any times it looked like it might clash, COVID cancelled the games which is a nice coincidence”, Liv joked.
“My parents and relatives have been really supportive to make sure I can get to and from games. I’ve also been lucky to have the head coaches of the team I coach and the head coach of the team I play for be supportive.”
This coaching experience has provided joy for many of those around her, as well as for Liv herself.
“I really enjoy helping everyone out, not just in my team but everyone around the club. I like to be polite and want to be a noticeable part of someone’s day, that really makes me happy.”
The SMJFL wants to congratulate Liv for her amazing work inspiring the younger players at her club and the impressive leadership she has shown.
If you would like to nominate someone at your club for the Monash University Leadership Award, you can do so here. Nominees must be under 18 years of age and be currently involved with an SMJFL club or the league.