NEW Calder Cannons coach Andrew Jago walks into the job with a different currency than the aura of being an ex-AFL player.
The senior lecturer in psychology at Victoria University will bring his own style of leadership and coaching to the Cannons after the departure of two-time TAC Cup premiership coach Martin Allison.
Allison will head up the Vic Metro under-18 academy program after a Cannons stint filled with both team success and strong AFL draft results. Jago has been an assistant coach to Allison at Calder for the last two seasons and moves into the senior role with a diverse coaching history at development, VFL and local level.
“It’s something I’ve worked towards, something I see as a genuine opportunity,” Jago said.
“Marty has been a sensational mentor to me. I’ve certainly learnt a lot. I’m my own person and I’m different.
“If I tried Marty’s style of coaching it wouldn’t work, the same as if he tried mine. But I think we have some similarities.”
A Tasmanian, Jago played for Devonport and Sprayten before joining the air force.
He then headed back to university to study psychology and play for University of Tasmania before moving to Victoria and turning his focus to coaching.
Jago initially worked in the coaching ranks at the Northern Bullants, forging a strong partnership with Mark P. Williams.
When Williams moved to Sandringham in 2004 and another mentor, Steve Daniel, moved to Seymour in the Goulburn Valley Football League, Jago found himself split between duties.
Working in football around the clock paid off for Jago as he enjoyed premiership success at both clubs.
Sandringham won a hat-trick of VFL premierships 2004-2006 while Seymour won 2005 and 2006 under Daniel before completing the three-peat in 2007 under a playing coach Jago worked with at the Northern Bullants, Bernie Haberman.
“I had superb mentors . . . for most of those years Sandringham played on the Sunday so I spent a lot of time in the car,” Jago said.
“I was in the box every Sunday with Sandringham and at Seymour Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”
Taking on head coaching roles with Seddon in the WRFL and Old Haileybury in the VAFA gave Jago a taste of the top job at suburban level, and from there the focus became the development paths.
“Leon Harris, the Vic Country high performance manager, contacted me initially on the sports psych side of things.
“I was fortunate enough to be appointed assistant to Nathan Buckley for the Vic Country under-16s.
“From there, the development system was something I aspired to and I started putting things in place.”
Juggling various roles such as assistant at Vic Country under-18 level, head of coach of the AFL Victoria youth girls academy and assistant at the Cannons followed.
Jago said heading the youth girls academy was of particular importance to his progression as a coach, while the team itself went on to win three national championships.
Jago was the backline coach at the Cannons in 2011 and forward line coach this year. He said he would judge his own performance as a coach based on whether players that came into the Cannons program left it as better people.
“I know that sounds a bit philosophical but it’s something that I genuinely believe.
“If you go through the statistics, there are a lot of footballers who come through the program that do not reach the elite level, so what do they get out of the program. I’d like to think whatever level our players settle at as footballers, they have learnt from the program and take it to AFL or VFL or back into local level.”
Ian Kyte is staying on as the Cannons’ region manager and meetings have already started in preparation for the TAC Cup team’s summer program.
Jago answered some questions about how he’ll handle his new role:
Being a development coach
“It is a slight adjustment from a winning philosophy to a development philosophy as you come into the TAC.
“I’m definitely a competitive animal by nature. Certainly at Seymour and Sandringham the philosophy was about success.
“I was lucky enough to be mentored by Steve (Daniel) and Mark Williams who had a development philosophy leading to success.
“At Northern Bullants I believed Mark Williams coached as well there as I’ve ever seen him coach and his development of the players was exceptional.
“I saw him take that to Sandringham and turn development into a winning culture.”
“My focus or my philosophy is basically offence wins games, defence wins championships. The first thing you need to develop is the defensive mindset.
“A lot of players that come into the TAC system are already offensively minded, being in the upper echelon at their own clubs, so it’s about teaching them the balance between offence and defence.
“Players need to know how important a role is, but also not pigeonholing someone and leaving them in a role for an entire game, let alone an entire season.
“Giving them the opportunity to show skills an identify deficiencies to work on.”
“A lot of coaches say 90 per cent of footy is played above the shoulders, and my first question back is how much training is done above the shoulders.
“It’s a big factor. Players can train and execute skills exceptionally well, but put them under match pressure and it breaks down.
“They haven’t lost that skill, it’s about getting them to execute.”