Webster has eyes on the AFL coaching prize

Daniel Webster’s start in coaching may have come a few years sooner than he would have hoped, but since entering the system he hasn’t looked back.

Webster, the 2015 AFL Queensland Assistant Talent Coach of the Year, wore a few hats in 2015.

Whether it be with the Queensland State Academy, the Lions Academy, or with Aspley’s NEAFL team, Webster played a key role in their development.

Let’s take it back to the start though. Webster’s coaching journey started in his early 20’s.

“I stopped playing when I was about 21 with hamstring injuries and all that type of jazz. I took a few years off from football and went to uni, but then wanted to get back into it,” Webster said.

“I ended up going through the Northern Raiders program. I was assistant coach of their under 18 side with John Taylor, and around about the same time, my old man was coaching the Zillmere women’s side, so I helped him out as well.”

After working with the Raiders for two years while finishing Uni, Webster approached Aspley.

That initial approach resulted in him coaching the Aspley under 18’s for a year, the reserves the year after, before becoming John Blair’s sidekick in the senior coaching box.

Not done there, Webster took on a role at the Hyundai Help for Kids Brisbane Lions Academy, and last year, with the Queensland State Academy.

It’s fair to say that balancing all three of these roles takes up a massive chunk of Webster’s life, but it’s made easy for a couple of reasons.

“One, I really love the game, and two, I really enjoy helping people. There is nothing better than helping a player out and watching them get better at something, and then seeing the enjoyment they get out of it,” he said.

Don’t worry about digging through the history books for examples of how much Webster has helped the development of players, they are right under your nose.

Two days ago, four Queensland Academy players – Ben Keays, Eric Hipwood, Corey Wagner and Wylie Buzza – were drafted to AFL clubs.

Webster’s work with these boys over the last two years shouldn’t be underestimated. He has had a big influence on where they are now.

“It’s very rewarding, and it’s one of the main reasons I do it. Even watching the draft, it was quite exciting seeing the boys’ names get called out, it’s definitely a thrill for me as well,” he said.

If you peeked behind the closed doors at a Queensland training session this year, Webster was the guy trawling through hours of footage, cutting it up, and presenting snippets to the group.

It’s a vital element of coaching modern day footy, but there is a very important balance to have when presenting.

“When delivering to players, yes there is a limit. Coaches need to be well and truly over their stuff, but the challenge is how you deliver it to players and get them to execute. I think you need to be quite detailed behind the scenes but deliver a simple message to the players,” he said.

In the short term, Webster will continue to fine tune his craft at Aspley and the Academies, but long term, instead of watching the drafted kids enter the AFL system, he would like to be working alongside them.

“Ultimately it would be awesome to have a crack in the AFL environment somewhere as a coach. Obviously you need the opportunities to open up at the right time, but at this stage it’s always about me getting better and improving and seeing what opens up,” he said.

“At this stage I’ll be involved in the State Academy next year, but down the track I will need to look at coaching my own team.”

By Andrew Wiles

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