Americans knew Paul Roos was all class

Thursday, September 22 2005 @ 04:06 am ACST

Contributed by: Brett Northey

As the Sydney Swans prepare to do battle with the West Coast Eagles in the 2005 AFL Grand Final, the decisions of coach Paul Roos will be vital to the success of the New South Wales team. Even more important to any side is the preparation put in over the preceding year or more. Players from the United States AFL are well aware of just how good Roos is, and how meticulous his planning will be. Before his move to the coaching helm of Sydney, the former AFL great spent some time in the US and coached the national side to victory over Canada. The following article was written by Roos himself back in 1999, summarising his time in the US. It was submitted by respected US Revolution player Tom Ellis. Paul Roos time spent in the US is still spoken of glowingly by those that met him. 1999 CanAm Coach
Canada versus USA
Match Report by American Revolution Coach Paul Roos
August 1st, 1999

The weekend of Saturday, July 31st was decided upon to play an international Australian rules football match in Chicago between American and Canada.

I arrived in Chicago on Thursday, July 29th and was picked up by players from the Chicago Swans. Friday, Rick Martinez, from the Swans had organized for me to attend both the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls training facilities and he accompanied me to both venues.

I arrived at the Radison hotel on Friday evening, this was the designated hotel for both teams.

Saturday morning a selection meeting was held at 11:30am and was attended by Paul Roos, assistant coaches-Craig Jones, Chris Olsen and U.S.A.F.L. president, Paul O’Keeffe. The meeting was run as follows:

Establish the final list of players
Work out the emergencies
Split list into U.S. citizens/Australian green card holders
Discuss each player (ability, position)
Pick a tentative side for Sundays game (to be reviewed after training)
Pick captains
With 25 players discuss priorities for the game (give everyone playing
time, simply pick a team to win game)
Roles of assistants
Weekend format (meeting, dinner, etc)
Outline 1:00pm training
Players were expected at the hotel at 12:00 and a meeting was scheduled for 1:00pm.

At the commencement of the meeting we had established 3 players had missed their plane from Philadelphia and 2 others were not on our list. The 1:00pm meeting was attended by players and emergencies in the International game as well as several players who had come to play in the curtain raiser.

The meeting went as follows:
Paul O’Keeffe welcomed everyone and congratulated the players who had been selected to represent America. He spoke on how important the weekend was in the continued promotion and advancement of Australian Rules in the U.S.A.

Paul then asked the players what their objectives were for the weekend. Did they feel it was more important to give everyone a fair run with an emphasis on playing American citizens or did they want to win the game by playing the best possible team? It was unanimous that the players wanted to win and asked that the selectors simply pick and play the best team.

Paul then handed the meeting to me and I outlined the format for the weekend.

Training at 3pm (I explained the session)
Dinner at 7:30pm
Everyone was expected to stay at hotel
We discussed the player's expected behavior as they were representing the U.S.A.F.L.
Sunday all players to meet for breakfast at 9:00am followed by team meeting at 9:30
Everyone to be at field by 12:00o'clock game day.
My goals and role for the weekend

Enjoy the experience/have fun/be punctual
Get to know teammates
Implement basic team rules
Basic team strategies
Individuals know what is expected of them during game
Play as a team
Every player was then asked to stand up and introduce himself to his teammates. The meeting finished at 2:10pm and players were then asked to meet in the foyer at 2:30 for 3:00pm training.

Training started at 3pm and ran till just after 5pm as follows:

Handball in pairs
Handball in lanes
Lane work kicking
Rectangle kick and handball
Changing direction from defense
Length of ground moving the ball with 3 defenders
Split up into forwards, backs and midfielders
Short end to end drill to finish

I then trained with the Canadian team from 5:30 until 6:15. I ran several drills similar to the American training run. A final selection meeting was held at 7:00pm attended by Paul Roos, Paul O’Keeffe, Chris Olson, Craig Jones, and Russel Waugh. We also asked Deron Lien, Ron Miller and Rich Mann to attend and informed them of our decision to make them team captains.

The team dinner started at 7:30 and was attended by both teams, wives, family and friends. During the course of the evening the Canadians introduced their team leaders, the American team were introduced and given their jumpers and captains announced. Paul O’Keeffe, U.S.A.F.L. President, Bruce Parker, C.F.L. President and Paul Roos, coach of U.S.A. all spoke about the game.

Sunday morning the U.S. players met at 9:30am. The team was announced in positions and the tactics for the game were discussed.

Chris Olson also spoke, he talked about how much the game meant to him and how lucky the players were that had been picked to represent their country. The meeting finished at 10:10am.

Sunday's format was as follows:

11:00am-curtain raiser between Chicago Swans and mixed team of players who had come for the weekend 3 x 20 minute period
12:30- exhibition game kids from Komarek Junior High School
1:00pm- USA vs. Canada (4 x 25 minute quarters)
I didn't get much chance to watch the first game as I was talking to the players from the U.S. team and giving them their individual instructions.

The group warm-up began at 12:30pm led by assistant coach, Craig Jones. I took this opportunity to help umpire the exhibition game with the kids. This was a huge thrill and a pleasure to see American kids playing Aussie Rules football. They were fantastic to watch with great skill and enthusiasm. I then spoke to the Americans just before the game was to start and play commenced on schedule at just after 1pm. The game was completed on schedule and presentations were made to the best players on the field after the game, best on ground-Rich Mann, best American-Aaron Whitham, and best Canadian-Chris Cummins.

The after-match function was then held at a sports bar around the corner and attended by the Canadian team and the American team members who didn't have to fly straight home. I flew out on Monday morning.

Final Thoughts
The weekend was an outstanding success from my point of view. The organization was first class and Wayne Pollock should be congratulated for the difficult task of coordinating this all from Australia.

The Chicago Swans did a magnificent job hosting the weekend. The dinner Saturday night was terrific. The food and drink excellent and everyone had a great time. Sunday was also well organized and went off without a hitch. Well done to all the Chicago Swans people particularly Brent, Rod, Rick, Tony and all the hardworking girls for their tremendous work over the weekend, they should all be proud of the Chicago Swans Australian Rules Football Club.

The players that traveled for the curtain raiser, should be commended for putting on a great game and obviously their desire to advance the game over here is much appreciated. It was a fantastic curtain raiser and both sides should be complemented on the game.

The exhibition game between matches was a highlight for everyone who attended the match. To see a group of young American boys and girls playing at such a high level must give us all a tremendous boost and show us what we can achieve over here. Jeff Norris must be given as much encouragement and assistance as possible to further his junior development program. What a great group of young kids.

The American players did everything asked of them for the weekend, attending meetings punctually and their enthusiasm and desire was evident from the moment they arrived at the hotel on Saturday. The match on Sunday was a fantastic advertisement for Aussie Rules, both sides were very physical but played within the rules and the spirit of the game.

Every player that represented his country (U.S.A. and Canada) should be complemented on their effort. The Americans did everything I asked and more. Their tackling was as good as any A.F.L. team and the skill level was high. It was a pleasure to coach such a good group of guys who's desire to learn and improve was evident.

Thanks to Chris Olson, Craig Jones, Paul O’Keeffe, Russell Waugh and Peter Tuddenham for their help over the weekend making my job easier and to the runners and waterboys on Sunday. The umpiring by Max Whittman and Stephen Arnott was fantastic and their efforts did not go unnoticed by those in attendance.

I have enjoyed my involvement this year with the U.S.A.F.A., everyone I have met through the association has been dedicated to the cause of Aussie Rules. The weekend was a great climax for me to a fantastic year with the teams throughout America.

I congratulate all that have been involved throughout the year and thank those for their help and enthusiasm. I feel fortunate to have been part of the U.S.A.F.L. for a brief time and consider it an honor to have coached the American Revolution to a victory over Canada.

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