Volunteer coach Tarena Ranui doesn’t give up her time to receive recognition but admits it was an ‘incredible feeling’ to be named as the McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year for 2019.Tarena was selected as national winner from nearly 700 nominations across the country and was shocked to come out on top.She will now receive a trip for two to the United Kingdom to attend an English Premier League match – including four nights’ accommodation and spending money – and can’t wait to board the plane.“The prize is incredible and it’s pretty exciting to think about, I’m not going to lie,” she says.“I had some amazing people write on my behalf so I’m certainly very grateful to them."Tarena is kept very busy as a junior coach, taking two teams that feature her children – junior girls at Hamilton-based club Northern United and her sons’ futsal team at Horotiu School – in addition to a Melville United girls academy side.
She got in to coaching through her children and relishes the chance to give back to a sport she feels has given her so much.“I grew up playing the game and feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunities I received and ultimately the friendships that grew because of my love for the sport,” she says.“So to be able to grow a love of football for these girls is a real privilege. It’s great to be able to give back to this generation and hopefully one or two might be able to kick on but, beyond that, I just want them to enjoy each other’s company through a sport they love.”Tarena enjoys the need to be creative and problem solve but her favourite aspect of junior coaching lies in helping to teach social skills.“I love the tolerance and respect that comes from playing sport. The kids learn they have to look after each other and that people make mistakes but you have to re-invite them into your space,” she says.“Those are the things that really drive me – just the growing of characters and good people.”
Her advice to anyone looking to get into a junior coaching is straight forward.“I think you have to enjoy the age group and know that they’re kids growing up so they’re going to make mistakes. They might let you down but just allow them the ability to come back in," she says."Hold them accountable but give them a space in which they’re allowed to grow and experience life. They need to feel that they won’t be forever judged and can express themselves creatively through their love of sport.”Tarena did not have to think too hard about who she will be taking with her to England for the prize.“There’s no way I’d be able to get away with not saying my husband,” she says with a laugh. “He’s already said that if I don’t choose him he’s upgrading the boat.”Article added: Tuesday 03 September 2019