Life as a coach full of various pressures

January 04, 2018

Trials and tribulations: Brett Henderson (middle) celebrates coaching Echuca to an under-18 premiership in 2008.

Brett Henderson has a lot to consider after being sacked as coach of Bendigo Pioneers. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Brett Henderson has been around football and coaching for a long time.

He is concerned about where the game is heading and if there is enough help available for country football coaches.

Henderson coached Echuca before standing down at the end of the 2011 season, leading the Murray Bombers to a preliminary final berth.

A development role at VFL club Williamstown and then the head coaching job at TAC Cup club Bendigo Pioneers followed.

His coaching career started in 1995 in the Swan Hill region at Lake Boga.

Henderson’s exit from the Pioneers is still difficult for him to believe, but has ambitions to coach again, despite that experience.

‘‘My contract wasn’t renewed and I found out through a third party and I haven’t been given the reasons, I’ve just had to assume them,’’ Henderson said.

‘‘I rang the manager the next week and he was apparently going to tell me, but I kept working for the next week and didn’t come into the office.

‘‘I was told not to speak to the Bendigo Advertiser about the situation and then told I wasn’t allowed to go to the best-and-fairest, even though my son was playing.

‘‘I was never made aware of the reasons why and in the mid-year review I had, it was enormously positive, but that all changed about four or five weeks later.

‘‘It’s been a dark period and I’ve been offered a couple of coaching jobs since, but I’m not quite there to get back into it yet.

‘‘I’ve struggled a bit and it was embarrassing to be in that situation and not be told why, so that’s been difficult.’’

Even though he is adamant about coaching again, it probably won’t be in the country due to the increasing demands.

On top of working full-time, Henderson estimated he would have put in up to 30 hours a week when he was coaching Echuca.

Henderson describes the recruiting process as a ‘‘game of tennis’’ with clubs putting in their serve and players returning serve.

He will never forget one meeting in Melbourne that made him question whether coaching was all worth it.

‘‘There was one example where myself and current Echuca coach Simon Maddox went down to Melbourne to chat to a couple of guys over coffee,’’ Henderson said.

‘‘One of the guys didn’t show up, while the one that was there said he wasn’t interested straight away.

‘‘It was a long ride back home.’’

Henderson said the overall pressure on coaches had increased in all areas.

‘‘It depends if you let it get to you because it’s one of the those jobs where your work gets evaluated and very publicly at times,’’ Henderson said.

‘‘Every supporter has an opinion and people are prepared to throw you under the bus pretty quickly.

‘‘I’ve been given the flick a couple of times and it’s not pleasant at all, there’s not too many jobs, that are your secondary job where you can be on the back page or making news if you get sacked.’’

While the job is essentially full-time, coaches understand it is going to be hard for clubs to pay them what they should be getting for their services.

‘‘I probably would’ve run at a loss when I was coaching country footy, because you do get paid, but you’re looking at things to get better and you’ve just got to pay things out of your own pocket.

‘‘I’ve never done footy for the money and I’m sure most guys would be the same, but they all deserve every cent they get because it’s incredibly time consuming and a fair bit of pressure on you at the same time.’’

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