When you’re the coach of a kids’ soccer team you can’t be late, as urologist Dr Jeff Thavaseelan has discovered.
One Perth urologist has found the perfect way to carve out time away from his surgical list. Dr Jeff Thavaseelan is a junior soccer coach and in the process that gives him plenty of quality ‘dad-time’ with his own children.
“I really like coaching the younger age groups, I’ve taken my three boys through this stage and I’ll be doing the same thing with my daughter who’ll be in Under 8s next year. It’s great to be involved in our children’s sport and the Wembley Downs club is terrific!”
“You can always find excuses to stay at work but when you’ve got 20 kids waiting for you for an afternoon training session you’ve just got to be there. It makes it so much easier to tweak the roster.”
Jeff’s passion for the ‘beautiful game’ goes back to his own childhood.
Soccer’s all in the family
“I played club soccer as a young kid in a country town, but nothing even approaching a serious level. My wife’s equally keen. She has a German background so all the kids have the overseas club shirts and we all supported Germany in the last World Cup.”
“All through the European season we have football on the television, from the English Premier League to the Bundesliga…whatever’s on, really. We’ve been members of Perth Glory for the past four years and we enjoy going to see them play.”
“We took the kids to Melbourne to see Real Madrid and AS Roma but we’d really love to see some World Cup matches. We were in Europe when the last one was on and the atmosphere was amazing!”
Jeff’s involvement with junior sport is underpinned by formal coaching qualifications and a commitment to inclusive participation.
“Football West runs coaching certificate and licence courses. I did the Grassroots program initially, which focuses on the youngest kids and then completed a Junior coaching licence.”
It’s all about the kids
“I’m pleased to say that we don’t have too many problems with the ‘Ugly Parent’ syndrome. As coaches we try to make sure that the sheer enjoyment of playing the game comes first. One of the most important things is to make sure that every child gets a fair go. My pre-game nights are usually spent working out player rotations to keep the kids and their parents happy.”
“When four of your own children are actively involved it does create some interesting situations. A typical football weekend means a lot of time in the car and some logistical coordination with other soccer families.”
“My role does mean I’m pretty much tied to the team I’m coaching but I do the occasional swap with another soccer dad so that we can each see our other children play.”
Jeff’s medical background adds yet another element to the equation.
“Taking my mobile phone is a necessary evil but it stays in my back-pocket most of the time. People usually understand if I’m in the middle of screaming at the team and I just tell them I’ll call them back.”
“I had one incident where an amazingly tough young girl broke her arm so I took off her shin-guards and strapped it up until she could get to hospital. Apparently PMH thought it was a pretty interesting technique.”
“One part of my specialty is neuro-urology dealing with spinal cord injuries. I’ve seen a bit of that coming from other codes at junior level because they try to mimic the professional players. A lot of parents have switched their kids to soccer because of those concerns.”
“Thankfully our children have been injury-free, apart from the usual skateboard dramas. They get a lot of enjoyment from their football and they’re better at it than I ever was.”