A familiar face around NTRA on a Sunday, Pat O’Sullivan has coached his way through all the age groups of our Women’s NPL program – this season coaching the Under 15s (joint role with Steve Burns) and Reserve Grade!
How did you first get involved in football?
I grew up in Dublin playing Gaelic football (which is a little bit like AFL but with a round ball) and when I was 13 one of my teammates said a local football team needed a goalkeeper so I jumped at the chance and loved it. I played at representative levels as a goalkeeper in Ireland until I immigrated to Australia aged 23.
How did you first get involved with Northern Tigers?
One of my daughters (Ciara) was playing for Tigers and I got to know some of the coaches. When an opening came up to coach the U12 girls team I jumped at the opportunity.
Which clubs have you previously been involved with?
In Australia I didn’t play football for many years but then joined the Lindfield FC O35s for a few years and coached junior Lindfield teams that my 3 kids played for.
What do you like most about Northern Tigers as a club?
It is a real family club which for representative football is very unusual. It is a great club for young players to play at the highest level while making good mates.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
Each season I set out to create a safe but challenging environment for the girls I coach both in juniors and seniors.
I work hard with the squad to develop every player individually and as a team and also encourage them to make mistakes.
From a football style perspective I look to build a very strong defensive foundation and from that encourage an attack minded mentality.
What is your best football memory?
Over the 10 years at Tigers I have many great memories but it is hard to look past the 2016 season when the Women were promoted to NPL1 and all five teams played in grand finals. Jason Eagar had become more involved with the Women’s side and asked me to take on the two senior teams that season. With huge help from Frank Warnink, Reserves went unbeaten all season and First Grade won the grand final. Ciara my daughter was in the squad and it was the first time I had coached her in reps. I was worried I would either be too hard on her or be seen to favour her. Towards the end of the season I was standing around with a group of players when Ciara took a bite from my sandwich and one of her teammates said you and Pat are quite close to which Ciara responded “Didn’t you know that Pat is my Dad?” – the player didn’t. So I guess I did get the balance right coaching her!
Do you have a favourite club / player? Who/why?
I am a huge Leeds United fan. In Ireland growing up they were the team to follow and I was lucky enough to trial for them. I am delighted they are back in the PL and playing beautiful Bielsa ball.
What do you enjoy the most about being involved in football?
Outside of having made some great friends, I love watching the young players come through the system. The great night in 2019 when the Women’s First Grade team played in the grand final, I loved sitting on the bench and watching Emma Watkins, Hannah McNulty, Josie Wilson and Sophie de Montemas shine having coached them through juniors.
Image thanks to Dan Ullman – Aptitude Photography.