- Tell us a little bit about yourself , background, where you grew up etc?
Born in Blacktown but spent my entire life living in the Penrith region. Married to a Soccer Mom with 3 little football players of our own.
- What are your first recollections of playing football?
My younger brother played before I did. I was into Athletics as a kid and went to a few of his games. Some of my friends also played and I decided to take up the sport. My first recollection of football is actually playing my first game as a defender for a local club side called St Joseph’s Soccer Club.
- Did you manage to play any level of professional football and when did you finish?
I never got to the level I would have liked. I played for over 30 years concluding with a final game for St Marys Band Club Rangers, which was an over 35s side where we competed in the Jason Connolly Cup in 2020. Unfortunately, injury in that tournament has now prevented me from putting on the boots again. I am grateful for the time I managed to spend playing the game I love. Some players don’t get the chance for that longevity.
- When and why did you first get into coaching?
My first memory of coaching was watching some sessions that Geoff Stanmore would deliver on the back oval when he was working at Westfields Sports many years ago. He never knew, but I would observe from a distance and just watch the way he conducted things. He was very passionate and demanded a high quality. This was a good introduction for me. Then I think it was around 2006. I was working at Westfields Sports HS and I had an informal meeting with the football director at the time – Trevor Morgan. We had a good chat about the program and he offered me a first opportunity to coach the girls within the program. I co-coached with Heather Garriock at the time and this was a great introduction into the coaching realm with one of the all-time greats of the women’s game. A great role model for the sport and the girls at the time. I would go to the school games (where possible) and fell in love with the talent, passion and attitude these kids demonstrated toward the game. From this and observing more of the other coaching sessions during school time, I wanted to be part of it.
- What has been your greatest personal and coaching achievement in football?
I have been fortunate to win a few trophies in Bill Turner, CHS tournaments with Sydney South West. I have been an assistant coach for Western Sydney Wanderers W-League and now coaching within the WSW boys youth academy. These things I wouldn’t have achieved without Westfields Sports HS so I would like to highlight them all as my best coaching achievements.
- As a coach in the Westfields Talented football program and the youth team u/13s coach at WSW, tell us a little about what a coaching week in the life of Rob Bradshaw entails?
The week will involve coaching 3 sessions at Westfields Sports in the early morning and 3-4 sessions at WSW of an evening. I spend Saturday morning at Football with my u13s and then watch the older age groups throughout the day. if possible, I may get to see both my kids play after my morning game if the time allows me to do so. Sunday is also a football day watching my eldest daughter plays in SAP.
- Did you or do you have any coaching role models you look up to or base your coaching philosophy on?
My first mentor was Trevor Morgan. He is on another level with his ability to communicate and articulate key messages/information to staff & players, a true professional. The other major influence on my current coaching is WSW Technical Director Ian Crook. His knowledge of the game and guidance has influenced the way I see and coach within the game. Other major influences in order of time I worked with them include Oscar Gonzalez, Dino Severin, Casey De-Bruin, Norm Boardman, Leah Blayney, Kory Babington, Nahuel Arrate & Goalkeeper coach Brody Crane. Each individual mentioned has had a positive influence and I am lucky to have worked with such amazing coaches but also amazing people. Lastly and currently, the WSW coaching staff which ideas are regularly discussed. They are a great team of people to be involved with. Other coaches from other codes at Westfields have also influenced the way I manage players or deal with players in certain situations.
I believe a philosophy evolves as coaches evolve. The more knowledge you accumulate during the journey, the more you learn and understand, the more you strive to improve the detail with your coaching philosophy and methodology.
- What coaching ambitions do you aspire to achieve in the future?
Fortunately for me, I am coaching at the highest level where I believe I best fit and where I want to be. You could say that I have been encouraged to do more by others, however, the youth space (ages 13-14) is what I enjoy most. When players start to learn how to play on the big field, when we continue and refine the technical elements of the game, introduce team tactics/formations and present new problems which players need to solve, this is a good place. Although this age group has its problems (as in any level of football), at this age we can mold the love for the game, develop the mental attitude and professionalism required to compete at the highest level and begin to understand the individual – what makes them tick. If there was ever a national team for this age group, I would aspire to coach at this particular level. The other thing in the back of my mind is perhaps a football director role.
- You’ve coached many great players over the years can you tell us some of their names and what sets them apart from the others?
I have been fortunate to work with some fantastic players. There are many to name during my 15 years in coaching, but they have played or are still playing NPL, WNPL, A-League, W-League, and both Men’s & Women’s National Teams. What sets them apart would be a combination of a few things…Technical, physical, tactical and mental ability. Although this is general, when a player presents high ability in all four areas, you have something in a different class. Sometimes a player may present in one or two areas more greatly than other areas, but if they are determined, they can still achieve their dreams. Developing a mental ethic for hard work, sacrifice, resiliency, and a desire to improve, are all great ingredients and usually the difference.
- Finally what message do you have for all the kids out there who want to chase their footballing dreams?
I have observed or coached kids who have not been selected for certain things; representative teams, academies, sports programs, starting 11 etc. Be resilient, work hard, surround yourself with the right people who believe in your ability, avoid distractions and concentrate on you. Make the most of the things you can control. Make yourself the best version of ‘YOU’ you can be.