Congratulations to Lisa Wilson for becoming the first person to complete an AFL Level 2 Coaching Accreditation through AFL Europe’s coaching program.
The current player-coach of the Rheinland Lions has made leaps and bounds with her coaching over the past few years, which all started at the Clapham Cubs junior AFL club back in 2016.
Lisa has since worked hard on improving her coaching and education of the sport by attending a number of AFL Europe’s coaching programs, including a Level 1 Coaching Course in Cologne in 2017, a Level 2 Coaching Course in London in 2019 and the new online Coaching Development Series last year.
Throughout that time, she also coached the Hamburg Dockers women’s to win the inaugural AFL Germany Women’s Grand Final and has passionately grown the sport of Australian Football right across Europe.
“I absolutely love coaching and have been working really hard on it over the last few years, so I feel really proud to get the accreditation badge,” said Lisa.
“The Level 2 Accreditation was a full year’s worth of work… finding a mentor, creating a philosophy, planning sessions, taking feedback and making improvements… it’s quite a challenge. I really put a lot of effort into it and very much enjoyed it.”
Achieving a Level 2 Coaching Accreditation through AFL Europe involves attending and completing a one-day workshop, followed by a number of assessment tasks to be submitted as your application.
For Lisa and 14 other coaches in Europe, this had begun in 2019 by attending AFL Europe’s Coaching Course in London, which was joined by the likes of Dan Jackson and John Blair.
The assessment tasks that follow the workshop include finding a mentor to go over your coaching with through three sessions, setting up your coach plan and creating your own coaching philosophy.
Many would think that with the tasks entailed in achieving the accreditation, and the circumstances that shocked the world last year, this would’ve been an impossible assignment to complete through 2020, however, Lisa would strive to find a way.
Reaching out to good friend and Great Britain Swans teammate, Laura Turner-Ramadan, Lisa found her mentor who would accompany her through the full year process. Lisa and Laura’s first mentor session was in preparation for the all-female Australian Football tournament held in Paris in early-March last year.
“We’ve been teammates for years… since playing for the inaugural England Vixens in 2014 and then playing together for the Great Britain Swans at the AFL’s International Cup in 2017.
“I go to her a lot when I have questions regarding footy and even life, we exchange ideas all the time. So, I thought there’d be no better person to have as my mentor as she knows me as a player and as a person.”
After the tournament in Paris, lockdowns were soon announced across the world halting all competitive play and training. Fortunately in Germany, restrictions began to ease in April with teams able to slowly work their way back into training, to internal club matches, to even a few games against other clubs, allowing Lisa to work on her coaching philosophy and coaching plan and then put them into action with the Rheinland Lions women’s team.
“Eventually we were lucky to get Rheinland Lions’ internal league underway, which was three rounds of mixed teams, with four girls in each team.
“We also travelled to Kiel for a game which was actually my first game back in over a year from an ACL reconstruction.”
In the lead up to these matches, Lisa had asked some of the Rheinland Lions men’s players to watch and provide feedback on her coaching. Lisa would use this feedback to continue to develop her coaching and to discuss it with Laura on a video call as part of her required mentor sessions.
Looking for other ways to improve, Lisa would next ask her assistant coach, Tim Crundall, to film her coaching the Rheinland Lions girls at training.
“I’m really lucky to have Tim as an assistant coach at Rheinland Lions, who has been of great support especially with helping our new players learning to kick and preparing them for our team drills.
“With Tim there I was also able to get him to film me coaching at training. I put together a 15-minute video of my coaching in action which I sent to Laura and Ryan Davey to take a look at and provide some more feedback.
“It was actually really handy to be able to see myself as well… if I was clear enough or if I talked too much. I found it really, really useful.”
By the end of 2020 Lisa had finalised and sent off all of her assessment documents to AFL Europe, including her coaching philosophy, and was soon enough approved to receive her AFL Level 2 Coaching Accreditation.
A proven player, representing England at national level and playing for the Great Britain Swans at AFL’s International Cup, Lisa’s love for coaching Australian Football began in 2016, when she and Wimbledon Hawks teammate, Lauren Spark, who now plays for the Western Bulldogs in the AFLW, set up a junior AFL club in London.
“Lauren and I set up the Clapham Cubs Kids Club in 2016. That was my first experience in coaching the sport.
“We did that every Sunday morning from 11:00AM until midday and it was my favourite hour of the week. We had about 12-20 kids every week and they absolutely loved it.”
In 2017, Lisa had decided to move to Germany and not before long was recruiting to start a women’s footy side in Hamburg. Using her past experiences of setting up the Wimbledon Hawks women’s side (2014) and the AFL London women’s competition (2015), Lisa established the Hamburg Dockers women’s team and would become their player-coach.
Unfortunately, an ACL injury in 2018 meant her role as player-coach for the Dockers was short-lived. However, all of her attention had now turned to coaching in which Lisa would soon learn a lot about her new passion as a coach, coaching Hamburg women’s through the inaugural AFL Germany Women’s season in 2019.
“The coaches at Hamburg were of great help to me, especially Pete Richter and Harry Wyatt.
“They had way more experience than I did and had been playing footy since they were kids. We had set up a little coaching group so I would always post in there asking for tips.”
Lisa actually coached the Hamburg women’s side right through to the grand final and went on to defeat the Berlin Crocodiles to become the first AFL Germany’s Women’s premiers.
“Going into that grand final, we were the underdogs by far. Berlin had beaten us both times during the season.
“I knew I had to do something different for the grand final. I had an idea of doing a proper motivational speech at the start of the game. So they (Pete & Harry) told me to look up the Alastair Clarkson “how to kill a shark” speech.
“I did my research and used a bit of that (Clarkson’s speech) before the grand final started. I did this speech to the girls on “how to kill a crocodile”. It was one of those things that could’ve been a hit or miss, but it went down really well and we won the game.
“One of the men’s coaches came up to me afterwards and told me I had coached the match unbelievably well. It was really, really rewarding to hear that, especially being the underdog team.
“And that was just before AFL Europe’s Level 2 Coaching Course in London, and from there I felt really inspired to take my coaching to the next level.”
When asked on why current or aspiring coaches should undertake AFL Europe’s coaching program, Lisa highlighted the importance of being able to network with other coaches to integrate new drills into your training.
“I think it’s great to bring more structure to your own sessions.
“The trainings that we do in AFL Europe could range from 6 to 26 people of different genders, abilities and age groups, it’s quite different to what coaches are dealing with in Australia.
“Often it can be difficult to apply some of the drills that you see in Australia. With the coaching accreditation, you find yourself in a group of coaches from right across Europe that you can start networking and sharing experiences with, learning things to make your own trainings a lot better.
“We’ve got a Facebook group for Australian Football coaches in Europe where we share a lot of drills that we have done, that we know will work.”
With the Level 2 Accreditation now under her belt, Lisa’s next focus involves going into schools in Germany and running Australian Football sessions in English as a way to teach the language. She also wants to assist others in becoming coaches too, which could eventually lead to her running coaching workshops across Europe.
It’s the effort and passion of those like Lisa that push the sport of Australian Football to grow right across the world. We would like to congratulate Lisa once again for achieving an AFL Level 2 Coaching Accreditation and thank her for all of the hard work and the time she has devoted to developing footy around Europe.
Jackson Jones – AFL Europe