After breaking his arm playing AFL in Canberra in 2011, Cheyne Webster has received another big break. This time, a welcome one! A coaching position with the North Melbourne Kangaroos Football Club in Melbourne.
Webster, a former PE and English teacher at Mackillop College in Canberra, has been appointed as a development coach with the North Melbourne women’s side in the AFL women’s (AFLW) competition.
North Melbourne finished third in this year’s 10-team AFLW competition, which will expand to 14 teams in 2020.
Webster will work with senior coach Scott Gowans in a new role focussing on the development of each player on the AFLW list at the club.
Webster turned to coaching after breaking his arm while playing in 2011. He completed a level one coaching course and spent three seasons as a coach in the men’s program at Eastlake Football Club.
He then spent three seasons as a development coach in the GWS Giants’ academy program.
The next rung on the ladder was as head coach of the Queanbeyan Tigers’ women’s side. The Tigers won the 2017 AFL Canberra first grade premiership and finished runners-up in 2018.
Webster told Region Media he was keen to pursue a coaching career and while moving to Sydney didn’t appeal, he chose Melbourne when a coaching role became available with the Melbourne University women’s side, a feeder club to North Melbourne in the AFLW competition. Melbourne University rose from 9th in 2018 to a play in the preliminary final this season
“In Canberra, I’d gone as far as I possibly could, so I’m really happy to get a position like this so quickly,” he said.
“My role as a development coach is to coordinate all the individual plans for the players on the AFL women’s list, looking at their technical and tactical improvement and skills, as well as their life off the field so they’re in the best possible shape to play football.”
Webster said he immediately fell into the life of AFL football in Melbourne.
“I think there’s a great buzz about women’s football down here and also nationally,” he said. “While the top level in Canberra is very similar to the talent in Melbourne, the depth here and quality of games and resources is completely another level.
“The atmosphere at North Melbourne is really exciting and just the fact that everyone talks, lives and breathes footy is great. So for now, it’s an opportunity just to listen and learn from everyone around me, which has been really rewarding.”
Webster said he would love to work as a head coach in the AFL women’s competition and is taking this opportunity to learn and help players develop their own love for the game.
“It’s great to be part of something that is bigger than the individual,” he said. “Having a teaching background really helps, so I think if I’m able to help players really love their footy and get to the next level, then that’s really rewarding for me.”
Webster has also been able to watch a lot of the men’s games this year with the North Melbourne coaching staff, which saw head coach Brad Scott sacked in May after 10 years at the club.
Webster said it is a high-pressure environment, but one in which he is keen to put the time and effort to develop his own coaching career.
“The time and effort the North Melbourne staff have put into developing my own career as a coach has been amazing. The level of care they have to develop their coaches has certainly got the best out of me,” he said.
Webster also named Brad Scott and dual premiership coach with Richmond, Damien Hardwick, also massive influences.
“They both show genuine care for their players. It seems like they just love coaching and being in the battle, win, lose or draw,” he said.
“I think that you need to be true to the reasons why you want to coach in the first place, but you’ve also got to have a really deep love for the game.
“The best coaches are the ones that really love the game and are able to show that enjoyment in everything they do. And while winning and improvement are both really important, I think enjoyment is the key.”