In the latest of our series of interviews with our club coaches, we talked to our U18's coach Cam Robertson. Cam has been with us for 3 seasons and enjoyed amazing success with the U16's in 2019 when they swept all before them.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background with regards to coaching and soccer? Also, any other interests outside the game?
"I was born and grew up in the UK where like many kids there I was obsessed with football and played competitively until I was 17 when I came to Australia. I continued to play in Australia through my 20’s but by this stage had adjusted to the Aussie lifestyle so well that surfing became my number 1 passion, so football was more social and less competitive.
My first year of coaching football was my first year at Northern Redbacks. My daughter was 12 at the time and the club was keen on developing the junior program and starting a U14’s team but needed a coach, so I volunteered. I spent a few weeks studying various coaching material along with some hands-on learning courtesy of Ally McMurdo and launched into it.
I have a lot of interests outside the game and love all things sport. My son is a keen cricketer and AFL player, and so I follow both of those sports. I’m still a keen surfer, swimmer and triathlete. I like the long-distance endurance events, Ironman triathlons, marathon running and ocean swimming, although with current coaching commitments I have less time for endurance training so focus more on just keeping fit these days."
You’ve been with us for 3 seasons now. What attracted you to the club and what keeps you coming back!
"My daughter had played a season at Woodvale and then a season at Sorrento. She was enjoying it and wanted to continue. At the time Sorrento was focussed primarily on men and boys teams and there was no certainty they would even run a junior girls team the next year. I asked around and the overwhelming advice was to go to Northern Redbacks. Being a club solely focussed on women’s football and developing junior girls was a big drawcard for my daughter.
In the last 3 years, it has been a pleasure to see the club’s junior teams strengthen and grow, attracting lots of talented young players, many of whom travel a long way to train and play with the Redbacks. Having started in U14’s and then coaching U16’s and U18’s I have had the opportunity to be involved in the development of the club’s junior ranks which has been really rewarding and fun. There are some really great committed people who really care about the club and ensuring it continues to evolve and develop at the same pace the Women’s game is both in Australia and globally. With the NPLW this year and the Women’s world cup on the way to Australia I think women’s football is just going to go from strength to strength which is fantastic to see."
Last season was an amazing one by anyone’s standards. Looking back on it now, what do you think was the key to the success you enjoyed?
"Last season certainly was an incredible one for the U16’s, going undefeated and winning all competitions. No doubt the girls had a lot of talent, but if I had to pick a key to success, I think it was the mindset of the team. They really developed a heap of self-belief and ultimately had a winning mindset. When they conceded a goal or made a mistake, they didn’t get down on themselves or drop their heads, they fired each other up, supported each other, dug deeper and always seemed to find a way to win.
Developing self-belief and confidence I think is so important in all aspects of life and sport and especially so for teenage girls. I think it is really important to ensure the players really feel supported by their coach and the other players in the team and that the coach believes in them. That enables them to have confidence in themselves."
COVID has had a huge impact on all of us, what were you’re biggest challenges during lockdown?
"I feel extremely fortunate that COVID has had minimal impact on myself and my family. I feel for those in hospitality and industries that have been badly affected by COVID and impacted their livelihoods. That said I feel we are very lucky here in WA, with very few health impacts on the community and minimal lockdown compared to most other places.
After the initial fear and uncertainty of COVID, I found quite a few positives in lockdown. More time to re-connect with family and appreciate the simple and little things in life that we can often take for granted. I think it has made me take a step back and evaluate what’s important."
You’ve had another impressive season so far, what are your expectations for the rest of the season and how do you see your role in the club's development of our players?
"Given the havoc that COVID has caused and continues to across the world and in Australia this year, I feel really fortunate that we are able to play this season. I think as a result there is less of a focus on winning and losing and more on enjoying playing the game and seeing the players develop.
As with most Redbacks teams, the U18’s are a very young team and they are a really fantastic bunch of young women. The team culture is great and it has been really good to see some of the more introverted personalities come out of their shell as the season has progressed. I have seen a lot of improvement technically in the girls already this season and I would like to see that continue. My expectations are that the girls have a heap of fun, get the best out of themselves and finish the year as better players rearing to come back next year. I see my role as helping create the climate for that to happen."