By Chula Bruggeling
On Aug. 6, Ashley Cooper posted in IQA: ALL the regions! his idea of setting up an international coaching forum. After much support, these forums went live just a week later in the form of a Facebook group called CoachMore – International Quidditch Forum For Coaches and the Facebook account CoachMore Quiducate. CoachMore’s current administrative team consists of Ashley Cooper, Stephan Kim, Borut Bezgovšek, and Gen Gibson. The Quidditch Post sat down with the individuals behind CoachMore to discuss this new forum, why they started it, and their goals for the group.
At IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016, TeamUK Coach Ashley Cooper received the honour of being named the coach for Team World (the stars and most impactful individuals of World Cup 2016). Clearly taking this appointment seriously, not two weeks after the big event, Cooper made his first steps towards trying to help coaches and improve coaching around the world by introducing the idea of international coaching forums.
Apparently, the idea of a coaching forum wasn’t a new one for Cooper.
“I’ve wanted to organise some form of coaching community for a while,” Cooper said. “Quidditch is such a new sport that not only is there not an established coaching community to help each other, but there also isn’t an established ‘ideal’ way to coach the basics of quidditch. Lots of people have lots of different backgrounds, be that from coaching other sports, sports physiology, psychology, etc., which all have transferable skills, but there aren’t any ‘trained quidditch coaches.’ At the moment, most coaches are playing by ear and individually working things out for themselves. I’ve always wanted to set up a coaching community where those people can all share their ideas and past experience so we can all help each other to firmly establish a quidditch coaching scene and identify the best ways to coach quidditch.”
Cooper himself has ample experience as a coach and leader, captaining TeamUK at the 2014 Global Games and leading the coaching team as head coach for both European Games 2015 and World Cup 2016.
Cooper is clearly looking at the big picture and potential future of quidditch.
“Once we find the optimum way to coach, then we can start training people more efficiently, leading to better coaches, better teams, better competition, and a more established sport,” Cooper said. “That will help us in loads of ways, including better access to funding and sponsorship, and also more exciting games. If we have the ability to rapidly train coaches and teams to a basic standard, then games become less about ‘which team will make the least fumbles’ and more about ‘which team has the better tactics and adaptability,’ which is only a good thing for all of us.”
Where Cooper might be the visionary of the team, Stephan Kim focuses on the more technical and administrative side, such as running the Quiducate – CoachMore Facebook account, as well as making sure the new CoachMore forum runs smoothly. With experience running other Facebook groups and his own photography page, he’s certainly no stranger to the day-to-day tasks that come with the job.
While Kim doesn’t have any particular coaching experience himself, he saw many different coaches over the past season and was eager to get involved with something that would help them grow.
“I decided to get involved with CoachMore because I saw that many quidditch coaches around the world have the potential to improve as individuals while also providing the opportunity for individual players on their teams to improve personal skills that add to the team player base,” said Kim. “I also see potential in emerging leaders, for players to step up as coaches in the future, and I wanted to help create a base where they could easily get tips and assistance from more experienced coaches of both the past and present.”
Some of you might have seen the name Borut Bezgovšek during our World Cup coverage – he is one of the coaches for both the Slovenian national team and the Aemona Argonauts. He studied a general program of sports for two years before switching to kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movements), which has given him an interesting perspective on athleticism.
“My old study program is what I expect most quidditch coaches are approaching coaching from,” said Bezgovšek. “They have a background in a specific sport (quidditch or otherwise) and that’s the base they build on, adding knowledge that seems applicable, viewed through the lenses of their background sport. In theory, kinesiology should give you a broader view because it doesn’t focus on any particular sport but on the common denominator that all sports work with – the human body. On the other hand, unless we have a background in a particular sport, we can also stray way off the road any experienced coach of that particular sport wouldn’t. In the end, it’s more about getting the best of different perspectives and less about which is ‘better’ or ‘the best’.”
Bezgovšek seems excited to share his particular insights with the wider quidditch community, and he mentioned he’s currently working on a piece on general principles such as warm-ups and injury prevention.
Last but certainly not least is Gen Gibson, who most of us know as the coach of the 2016 Australian Dropbears.
“When I saw Ashley post about a coach’s forum, I was so keen to be involved,” said Gibson. “Coaching a national team for World Cup was a lot of work, and I quickly found out that there is little to no information readily available for quidditch coaches worldwide. This is a huge problem for the development of the sport, especially in new nations.”
This lack of resources is something Gibson talked about before in a personal story on her World Cup journey we published earlier this month.
“It is my hope that CoachMore will provide a platform for coaches to ask tricky questions and get advice and opinions from all over the world,” Gibson said. “It will also provide extra bits for information relevant to coaches to keep them engaged and inspired with the job at hand. If I can help any coach feel less lost than I did when I first started, that would be a truly wonderful thing to have achieved.”
During our conversation with Cooper, he mentioned being excited for media to be more interested in coaching.
“I’m actually very keen for the Quidditch Post and other media to jump in on the forums and use them to start reporting more coaching and tactical-based pieces,” Cooper said.
Kim, in turn, gave a hint of what the future might bring: “I hope that this start-up expands to the point where we can have different branches in the future, such as a forum for referees, snitches, and tournament directors (and I’m sure the other admins agree on this). We all consider this a pilot program, but with enough interest and participation we can make this big. CoachMore is the only branch of Quiducate so far, and we’re hopeful for the expansion to the other branches.”