FOCUS sat down with Coffs Breakers AFL Women’s Captain Katika Adams and the Coach, Brad Giri, to talk about the club, its influences on the community … and how they are going to get that premiership!
What’s your connection with the Coffs Coast?
I moved to the Coffs Coast in 2001 from Victoria with my wife, Kylie, to be close to her parents and enjoy a sea change.
We have both been working at the hospital since then.
What does your sporting history look like?
I have played most sports at some stage, from baseball to triathlons, but my main sport and passion has always been AFL.
I have played since I was eight years old and played for 28 years, both in Victoria and Coffs Harbour.
What made you step up to be a Coach?
I co-coached two first grade premierships with North Coffs FC in 2002 and 2003 and afterwards just concentrated on playing. Being away from AFL for a few years, I missed the sport too much, so when the opportunity arose to coach Breakers’ women – I couldn’t say no.
Has your coaching styles changed between men and women?
Yes, definitely. Coaching women is so rewarding, because they want to be at training and play, as well as being avid listeners and willing to learn. I have found I don’t shout at the players anymore!
With the always changing style of AFL and new rules, I have had to adjust game structures accordingly.
Do you have a moment that stands out as a Coach?
Tell us about Coffs AFL Breakers…
Coffs Breakers is the merging of two clubs. There are four teams within the breakers, three men’s and a women’s. Our home ground is Fitzroy Oval. Last year was the inaugural year, this year
Has Women’s AFL become popular in the Coffs region?
Surprisingly for a Rugby League known territory – yes. Year on year we continue to develop, because we have a strategy in place with the youth players who come up, so that helps; it allows people to access the sport through other sporting clubs. This year, for example, we’ve seen a lot of girls come up, and we’ve also seen girls come through from basketball.
You’ve just been appointed Captain; what kind of sporting history do you have?
I’ve always been involved in sports from a young age. I was born in Broome, WA, where there’s a rich AFL culture. My brother and I are close in age; I grew up playing football. AFL was king. At school I used to play AFL at recess and lunch with the boys; I developed that skill set by playing every day. During my teenage years on the North Coast NSW I stopped playing, which I missed, but I moved to Perth in 2007 and joined a women’s team to make friends. I played AFL with the Subiaco team, and the love for the sport was re-ignited. I went on to play for the state of WA, before a torn ACL took me away from the game and WAFL for another six years.
How does having a local AFL club help in the local community?
I think it’s positive for young people to have a purpose and a chance to have that feeling of being part of a team. The comradery that is built around a sporting club inher-ently helps them to understand the roles of what a family and community are outside their own immediate family. The Breakers Football Club, in my opinion, leads the way better than any other team in the competition. They are family oriented, have good role models for young kids and get involved in many fundraising and community events. Recently we all attended the ANZAC Day dawn service together and on July 6, we are have a fundraising round for the Black Dog Institute, to raise awareness for mental health. I guess it’s the small things that make this club special – being professional in our approach to the game and our community, protecting one another – especially on the field – there’s no other loyalty like being on a team that does that, and this year our girls are playing for each other.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to join the AFL community?
Come on down! Everyone is accepting and very welcoming of all ages and abilities who want to play. If you don’t want to play but still want to be a part of the club, we have a team of fantastic volunteers who make the game happen each week and would be happy to have the extra help. The club is united, and spectators get involved with some unreal, on the ground action! The girls’ and boys’ teams are very much incorporated, and everyone is welcome. Give it a shot, get in con-tact with the club; we can get you involved straight away.