Inaugural McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year winner Nic Millichip enjoyed the experience of a lifetime in 2016 and is urging people all over the country to submit their nominations so another well-deserving coach can do likewise this year.
In what has become an annual initiative, the second McDonald’s Junior Coach of the Year competition was launched by New Zealand Football and McDonald’s last month and the overall prize is once again a behind-the-scenes experience with Oceania champions Auckland City at the FIFA Club World Cup, this time in Abu Dhabi.
Tauranga-based Millichip and his young family travelled to Japan with Auckland City for the tournament last year and says the moments he experienced will stay with him forever.
“Auckland City were absolutely amazing hosts,” he recalls.
“Before we went over, they hosted us at a home game and we met lots of the people we would be going with. Then, once we were over there, I got to ride in the bus going to the ground and go into the changing rooms. We also got to watch the training sessions and have dinner with them and were even involved in a quiz night they did,” adds Millichip, who also took in some of the on-field action at the FIFA Club World Cup.
“They were just really inclusive and professional – you never felt like you were imposing.”
From a personal development point of view, Millichip acted like a sponge and looked to soak up all he could.
“The involvement with the Auckland City coaches and the knowledge they shared was great. They were very open about what they were doing and how they were approaching the game – you can’t buy that sort of experience,” he says.
“I took huge amounts out of that and have used that going forward, it’s really added to me as a coach.”
Millichip became the 2016 McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year winner due to his selfless efforts with the 10th-grade Gunners team at Katikati FC and is still coaching the same group of youngsters, as well as adding many more strings to his bow.
“The Gunners are going along really nicely – it’s a cool set of kids who are really keen and loving their football, which is great,” he says. “I’m also doing lots of coach education within the club, getting around lots of coaches and trying to increase what we’re passing on to our club members.”
Outside of Katikati FC, Millichip has taken his first steps into senior level as an assistant coach for Lotto NRFL outfit Tauranga City United and is also involved in age-group camps with WaiBOP Football and coaching futsal. He continues to invest in his progress and is a candidate on the current OFC/NZF B-Licence award while also looking to obtain the NZF Junior Level 3 award next month in Rotorua.
The father of two – his son Declan is a Gunners player – is glad he became involved in coaching and feels others with young children should not hesitate to give it a try.
“I think it’s a wee bit daunting for some people to start with but the benefits you get as a person and the feedback from the kids is amazing,” he says.
“It’s nothing you can get off the shelf – it’s just genuine.”
Nominations for the McDonald’s Junior Coach of the Year are open until July 9 and you can nominate someone by clicking here
The shortlisted winners will be announced on August 14 while the regional winners will be confirmed four days later and the national winner unveiled on August 22.