Frankly Speaking With Paddy Swayn by Yazmine Lomax

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By day, Paddy Swayn is the popular PE teacher at Moorooduc Primary School, but in the afternoons and on weekends you’ll find him on the footy field coaching the Pines Pythons to premiership victory. We caught up with the sports fanatic for a chat about the ups and downs of coaching and how it felt to snag a win in the MPNFL Division One Grand Final. 

How did coaching the Pines come about?

I played at the Pines when we won our last premiership 24 years ago. One of my teammates went on to coach at Rosebud Football Netball Club and he asked me to help out and see if I liked coaching. That was back in 2000 and now, 19 seasons later, I’m still doing it. After assistant coaching at Rosebud, I had numerous coaching roles with Somerville Football Club (2005-2007), Pines (2008-2009) and Frankston VFL (2010-2014) before returning to Pines in 2015. 

What’s the best part of being a football coach?

It would have to be the development of individual players, the growth of the side and club as we learn together, and seeing the joy on the supporters’ faces when we play. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say winning!

What are some challenges you face?

There are plenty of challenges that come with being a football coach but the No.1 is backing yourself. Time is another big one; fitting in family, work and friendships as well as coaching a local senior football side is really challenging. 

What’s the secret to being a premiership-winning coach?

Experience. It’s all about making mistakes, learning from them, and then getting things right next time. Also asking questions. I’d never coached a grand final before so I rang other coaches and spoke to them. When the winning point was kicked I felt all the losses, all the setbacks and all the heartaches released in one emotion. It wasn’t the sense of relief that many coaches talk about; it was pure joy knowing we’d achieved something pretty special. 

Why do you love where you live and how does it inspire your work?

We’re spoilt for choices of things to do here. We have beaches, wineries, golf courses, sporting facilities, restaurants, schools … it’s endless. And the people here are pretty relaxed. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.