Sport

Behind the Play: Lisa Davidson

By Brayden May

In the coming months, the Riverine Herald will tell the stories of the twin towns’ most prominent sporting people in a new series, Behind the Play.

The stories will be told in print and in video as we aim to delve into the sporting world of Echuca-Moama.

ECHUCA United Football Netball Club has become a second home for Lisa Davidson.

In the past 15 years, she has gone from premiership player to premiership coach, all while being a mum.

But it’s the family feeling within the four walls of the Eagles’ nest which keeps drawing her back.

“It is a very welcoming environment – it doesn’t matter whether you are the best or the worst player,” Davidson said.

“A friend recommended that it was a great club to go to for families and I haven’t looked back since.

“You always have new people turn up and everyone welcomes you as if you’ve been there for a long time.

“I’ve been very happy there since I joined.”

As a player, Davidson experienced the ultimate success in 2015 as United won seven netball premierships from seven attempts.

Lisa Davidson in action in 2016.

Davidson herself played in the B grade side which defeated Tongala.

“It was great with the people that I got to celebrate with, and my daughter was sitting on the bench,” she said.

“The best part was that we were the underdogs, no one expected us to win.

“At that stage we had a great coach and then we played a big role in the junior program because we were all coaching.

“We were all getting the same message across through all our teams, so we had a consistent club approach which made a massive difference.”

Davidson’s role as a mentor has only grown since, going onto become a key figure in United’s junior netball program.

During her time with the club, she has coached under 13, 15 and 17 teams and has had the opportunity to coach all three of her daughters.

“Each girl is different, and it can depend on what mood they are in,” she joked.

“I have always been Jess, Hollie and Georgia’s mum though – that’s been my main job.

“They always do listen but, in the past, I have coached with someone else. So, if it wasn’t working, they could step in and tell them what to do.”

“I’m definitely harder on my own kids but only because I want the best from them.

“There are always netball-related conversations whether it be at home or on the way to games.

“But I like to think that my coaching is fair for everyone.”

Lisa with her daughters (from left) Georgia, Jess and Hollie.

And on the journey with her daughters, Lisa has been fortunate to coach two of Hollie’s six straight premierships.

“Sometimes I don’t think she realises how lucky she is,” Lisa explained.

“There are some people who go through their whole life and don’t get one of those.

“All my girls are fortunate to have won premierships.”

While Lisa admitted she still has plenty to learn as a coach, she has a clear idea on how her teams should look.

“I’m much better at coaching the older age group, because I like the players to have the right level of skill,” she said.

“In under 17s we are trying to develop them into senior netballers. The main skill I ask my players to focus on is their footwork.

“I notice a lot of kids turn the wrong way when they catch the ball. So, we go through a repetitive process to make sure they’re landing on the right foot and turning the right way.

“And voice is something I’m always driving into my players because it can play a big role in helping to get you over the line in a tight game.”

A coach’s role in a player’s on-court development is just as important in their off-court growth.

And Davidson believes it starts with building a strong team culture.

“We’re really about inclusiveness as a team,” she said.

“When you are there, you make sure everyone is involved.

“There is always going to be those who have tight friendship groups and those who go to school together. But when we’re together we are a team, and everyone is equal.

“Having those groups can be a challenge but that is why we coach. I’m lucky that I’ve got some outside skills which I can bring into the role and make my job easier.

“Fun is the best way to get people all together.”

On the sidelines, Davidson is still as passionate as anyone when it comes to the game of netball.

And not being able to be out on the court eats away at her.

“I really struggle not playing, I just love netball,” she said.

“It is an adjustment because of what you are used to. That is why I am coaching so that I still do have some involvement in the sport.”

Since arriving at United, Davidson said she had seen the Murray Netball League go from strength-to-strength.

“The exposure of netball has definitely played a big part in what has happened,” she explained.

“When I first started playing, you couldn’t even watch it on TV. But now you’re able to watch it all the time.

“There are so many places you can get skills from, whether it be online or in person.”

The under 15 team Lisa coached in 2015.

Before United came Calivil United in the Loddon Valley Football Netball League, which carried a similar feeling to what Davidson and her family has experienced at United.

“It was very much a family club as well,” Lisa said.

“We won a lot of premierships when I was in the juniors, so I was incredibly lucky.

“My mum is a life member there, she is pretty much a legend of the club.

“She was my role model growing up and now I’m trying to do that for my girls.”

Like many others, Lisa and her family are continuing to deal with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, which has broken up the family’s regular routine.

“It is hard not being able to see everyone – whether it be catching up or training together,” she said.

“Social media has been good for that. We’ve been able to stay in contact right throughout this entire thing.

“I think it will be a big celebration when we get back on court because we all now know what it feels like to not have what we love.

“It makes you appreciate what you have.”

Davidson knows not everything can last forever and she has a clear vision of what she wants to see happen when her coaching career does come to an end.

“I hope my kids carry on the love of the game with their kids.”