It?s hats off to the goalkeeper
By GREG WHITE
GROWING up near migrant families in Wollongong gave David Carney his introduction to soccer.
"With my background it helped to have people with Italian background around who followed the game. They got me started," he said.
Soccer or football, it's all the same to the Holiday Coast's junior rep goalkeeping coach.
"Some get upset about what you call it but not me," Carney said.
"It's only a title when your attitude and approach are more important."
Carney arrived in Bellingen four years ago and after a long playing career became involved with both the Urunga and Bellingen associations.
"Nobody was coaching the goalkeepers specifically so I sort of fell into the job by accident," he said.
"Gradually it is being seen as a game within a game and has come a long way from the days when the kid left over was automatically shoved back to goalie as an afterthought."
In Carney's view, the goalkeeper is not only different but the most important player in the team.
"They play with certain different rules, have different clothing and use their hands," he said.
"Any player can score but only one is charged with stopping the ball. The player in that position has a complex role and is almost always the difference between winning and losing."
Carney is on first-name terms with many of Australia's sporting elite and, while he doesn't want to be seen as a name-dropper, believes there's an affinity between football goalkeeping and similar roles in other sports.
"Cricket, for instance, where wicketkeeping has a lot of similarities," he said.
"Steve Waugh was a great soccer player and we were once team-mates.
"John Dyson was also a great player in both sports and there have been many more."
When the Coffs Coast Advocate spoke to Carney he was heading a coaching clinic at Urunga with the Raiders' teenage goalkeeping wizard, Jakob Campbell, one of the pupils.
"Jakob is an ideal keeper," he said. "He's aggressive, he listens and is prepared to work on his game.
"When you see that attitude spread through the team you realise it is no accident Urunga is on top of the competition table."