Children are great imitators, so it’s crucial that we surround them with great role models to follow in all areas of life – and that includes on the soccer pitch. Cara D’Avanzo certainly sets a great example for her children Declan, 19, Aran, 17, and Chris, 15. An integral member of the ANZA family, Cara serves as Communications Coordinator on the ANZA Soccer committee and is one of a handful of female parent coaches who’ve stepped up to actively coach the kids on the game. We asked Cara how she went from regular Saturdays to spending her weekends striding the sidelines.
When did you begin coaching at ANZA Soccer?
It was back in 2014 when I started coaching my youngest son’s U8 team. As a child I’d played soccer myself from the age of five through to college, and I also coached while teaching in the US, Taiwan, and Australia. Initially, no other mums were coaching at ANZA Soccer, so I thought they were just not “allowed” to volunteer for this role! After watching my son Chris play, I was itching to become more involved, so asked the Age Group Coordinator (AGC) if I could coach too. Since then, I’ve trained at least two of my three sons’ teams each season and been involved in coaching competition teams as well.
What have been your favourite ANZA Soccer coaching experiences?
It’s been a total privilege to teach all the wonderful youngsters I’ve had on my various teams – Snipers, Warriors, Gordons, Flyers, and comp teams. I’ve also had some great times coaching with (and against) many fantastic, enthusiastic, and competitive dads! I absolutely love going along to the pitches on Saturdays and seeing how each of the players grows and improves over the season. Perhaps my favourite coaching “success” was at SEA Cup 2015 in Bangkok. Coach Mike and I were lucky enough to proudly lead ANZA Soccer’s U11 team, including my son Aran, to that age group’s inaugural gold medal.
Why should more females volunteer at ANZA Soccer?
At a younger age, soccer knowledge is less important than being able to manage and engage with children – something females can do just as well as males! It’s also really important to provide female role models to kids of all genders. If all the coaches on the pitch are men, this can send the message that only guys can progress to higher levels of sports and coaching, which we all know is untrue. Most of all, coaching at ANZA Soccer is a great way to interact with your own child in a different role and setting, while making new friends in the process. I really hope to see a lot more mums on the pitch in the coming years.
Role Models For Matildas
Launching in 2022 is our “Role Models For Matildas” programme, where we encourage our senior Matilda players (aged 6-16) to take on a leadership role in both coaching and mentoring our younger players. This benefits the teens, who’ll learn about coaching, mentoring, and leadership, and our younger players, who’ll have trainers they can aspire to. The senior girls can also apply this opportunity towards their schools’ required volunteer/service hours, needed for graduation. To lead our new Matilda recruits on developing these skills over time, our female professional coaches will be on hand to provide assistance and guidance.
Calling all females!
ANZA is working hard to improve its ratio of female coaches and has been actively recruiting more women. We provide all the support required with training, drills, and session plans. Most find that any initial hesitation quickly dissipates when they see how much the kids love having parents involved.
We also have two female professional coaches to help improve the skill level of our Matilda players – Coach Vaan and Coach Mastura, who both played for the Singapore Women’s National Team. They bring not just expertise and extensive experience, but a passion for seeing more girls and women play soccer.
If you’d like to get involved in ANZA Soccer or volunteer as a coach, register at