Current National Champion and ACT judoka Derek Morris's venture into coaching has proven successful so far in 2023. For the ADF Martial Arts head coach, his coaching responsibility falls beyond the club itself, being responsible for all of the ADF’s judoka.
“Coaching has allowed me to critically analyse not just basic techniques, but more importantly game strategy. As a coach, you need to know your own players’ and your opponents’ style and likely go-to techniques. It is very rewarding when your predictions and strategies pay off.” the self-anointed super-coach remarked.
The Canberra-based coach guided ADF Martial Arts club member Cristian Furness to his first International Open medal, winning a Bronze medal in the u73kg kyu Men’s at the Melbourne International Judo Open. “Cristian was absolutely stoked. When he won, he was straight on to his phone with his son. I am sure he wore that medal to bed that night.”
Amongst his other wins on the day was coaching fellow ADF member Feao Faka’Osi to a Gold medal in the u90kg vets. It was Derek’s first venture into coaching a future Olympian – Feao being selected by Tonga to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. “Feao’s opponent was a training partner of his, so I suggested doing something ‘outside of the box – something he wouldn’t expect’. He nailed it with an uchi-mata, a throw he hadn’t seriously attempted since he was a kid. I’m not sure who was more surprised: me, his opponent, or Feao for actually pulling it off.”
Derek finished the day by helping Beyond Grappling Club’s Paula Monta to a Bronze medal in the hotly contested 100+ Senior Men’s. “We were hoping to finish in a showdown with Commonwealth Bronze Medalist Liam Park, but Phillip Cursons from Judo Bendigo was too strong for Paula this time.”
Before finishing the event, Judo ACT President Luis Val was seen introducing Derek to Australian Olympic Coach, Daniel Kelly, likely a sign of things to come. Derek is just one of the coaches that form the ACT Coaching Team in the lead-up to the 2023 Nationals.