Northwind coach re-commits
Northwind coach Cody Royle has re-committed for the next three years – and plans to challenge the top teams when the Canadians take on the world at the International Cup in 2020.
Returning for his second International Cup at the helm of the men’s national Australian rules football team, Royle will look to best the Northwind’s finish of seventh in 2017.
“From a personal perspective, I love coaching, so it was a little bit of a no-brainer in terms of wanting to continue,” Royle said.
“From a team perspective, I'd already spoken to our senior players and knew that they wanted to stay together for another International Cup, so there was motivation from there in terms of believing that I'm the best person to help them achieve their goals in 2020.”
Royle has been a part of the national coaching team since 2012 – and head coach since 2015 – being involved in two International Cups and two 49th Parallel Cups.
He also coached the Broadview Hawks in three consecutive grand finals and has coaching experience in Australia dating back to 2008.
Despite all of his coaching experience, he said coaching the national team was special.
“The most rewarding part of coaching Northwind is the friendships that we create within the national program,” he said.
“We have players from across coast-to-coast now and footy turns them into lifelong friends. An International Cup is an immersive experience – it's three weeks of eating, breathing and sleeping football, living in a hotel room with three or four teammates. There's just nothing like it.
“On field success is great, of course, and we've had some success, but for me it needs to be about something bigger than just putting up a W.”
Putting together the best possible national team in the second largest country in the world can have its challenges, but Royle said it’s about playing the cards they had been dealt.
“At this stage – more than two years out – it's about putting a support structure around the program to ensure we can send our best team to IC20,” he said.
“For us, it's mostly a financial battle. Three weeks away from home, in a hotel, with a not-so-kind exchange rate – it adds up quickly. The focus right now is about getting those pieces right so we can get our best 30 on the plane to Melbourne.
“We have a two-year plan in place that we think will help us push into the upper echelon of international footy.
“The difference between us and the top teams isn't much – so we just need to ensure that we focus on what we can control. Technology allows us to do some pretty cool things in terms of one-on-one coaching, even though we're so geographically diverse.”
AFL Canada Manager of Football Development Penny Bartel said Royle's experience spoke for itself.
"Asking Cody to return as head coach for our national men's team was an easy decision to make, given his experience in the role, his coaching credentials, his reputation with the high performance athletes, and his passion for the growth of footy in Canada," she said.
"With Cody providing leadership to our Canadian men for the next two years, I know that the Northwind team will see great success at IC20."