By Ben Pollard
Hayley Lyons comes from good sporting stock.
The 16-year old’s father, Marty, played 27 games for Melbourne in the VFL between 1975 and 1977, while her mother Bernie is an accomplished netball player.
Hayley’s older brother Jarryd recently made his AFL debut for Adelaide, having being drafted by the Crows with pick 61 in the 2010 national draft.
Her younger brother Corey has been selected in the Sandringham Dragons Under 14 development squad for 2012 and also looks to have a bright future in footy.
Hayley is surrounded by good football stories, but now she’s crafting one of her own.
As the head coach of St Peters in the SMJFL’s – and Victoria’s – first Under 14 girls’ competition, Hayley is part of history.
She believes junior girls’ football is about to take off and loves the responsibility of developing the first wave of players.
“I really enjoy it, because St Peters is developing the girls as much as the boys and I’m involved in that,” Hayley says.
“When people say: ‘Have you heard about the girls’ competition?’ I can talk about it first-hand, because I’m there, watching it and experiencing it grow.”
Hayley is growing too, having graduated from an assistant coaching role at St Peters in the SMJFL’s pioneering Under 12 girls’ division last year.
From that experience, she says helping develop girls into skilful footballers is the most rewarding aspect of coaching.
“Half the girls come in having no idea what football’s about, not even knowing the game,” Hayley says.
“We had to teach them how to kick a ball and how to catch a ball; bouncing was difficult too, but then they caught on to it.
Hayley says the improvement in the girls’ skill levels from their first game to the end of the season was “just crazy”.
Not only are kicks now hitting targets, Hayley has found an inventive way to communicate football game plans to her players.
“I’d say 95 per cent of the girls I coach play netball so I take more of a netball approach, using examples from netball if they don’t understand the really technical football terms,” Hayley says.
It’s this ability to relate to the girls that makes Hayley so popular among her players, but of course she isn’t coaching alone.
There’s that sporting family of hers.
Dad Marty is a regular at St Peters training, helping improve the girls’ skills and passing on his football wisdom through training drills.
“Dad teaches them the basics and then I use my netball coaching skills to transfer it over to the girls,” Hayley says.
Of course, brother Jarryd is making his name in South Australia, but younger sibling Corey also has a role to play.
“He came to the first game and helped me out a little bit; just to say: ‘Maybe try this out,’ and so we worked together on that,” Hayley says.
The family effort succeeded: Through pouring rain and hail at times, the St Peters Under 14 girls won their opening game of the year.
Not a surprising result given the sporting pedigree of the Lyons family.