Former Sunbury clubman chases coaching dream in Brisbane
FOOTBALL: Justin Linwood intended to end his association with sport when he left Sunbury and moved to Brisbane.
A Sunbury man his entire life, Linwood's work-driven move to the Sunshine State's capital was supposed to mean he spent this year away from sport. No playing, no coaching, just a year settling in to a new city, a new job (which he found straight away) and a new way of life in the big smoke.
It didn't last long.
"I was on Facebook one day just looking around, and saw the Strikers were looking for assistant coaches,” he said.
After 14 years with Sunbury, which included a stint coaching the Youth team to the grand final last year, Linwood put himself forward for a job at National Premier Leagues team Brisbane Strikers.
The year-long break from sport was snapped in months.
Linwood lives and breathes football, and his chance to slot into a NPL system, as the under-15s assistant coach, was far too good to refuse.
And it's a little bit different to what he found in Wide Bay.
"It's 10 times more professional than anything I've seen in the Wide Bay,” Linwood said.
"Game day, training sessions, everything is different.
"There's more experienced people around the club. The coach has just come back after spending 13 years coaching overseas. It's difficult learning how thing are run, it's a lot different, but it's great.”
The Strikers are a large club.
A NPL heavyweight who recently announced the withdrawal of its A-League licence bid, the Strikers are a results-driven outfit invested in not only producing future top-quality football players, but future NPL, A-League and international players.
Linwood's team has struggled for those results this year, though the former Maryborough man has enjoyed one major success so far.
"The coach was away for the game against Western Pride so I stepped up for my first game as acting coach, and that was when our first game for the season,” Linwood said.
"This year, for me, it's about getting a few more results and building up my reputation as an assistant coach. I'd like to get back to the Wide Bay, I'd definitely love to coach Sunbury again one day, but my aim is to learn as much as I can.”
With that commitment to coaching, it doesn't leave as much time for strapping on the shin pads, lacing up the boots and having a run. In fact, those days could be over.
"I probably won't play again,” Linwood said.
"It's about trying to get that full-time or professional job as a coach now.”