Senior coaching is a tough gig at the best of times.
During the most tragic period in the Adelaide Football Club’s history, Scott Camporeale has the almost unimaginable job of carrying the club forward, without the experience and guidance of his mentor, the late Phil Walsh.
Named as Adelaide’s interim coach last week, Camporeale is doing his best to keep things simple.
His mission is to refocus the people Walsh had touched during his tenure at the Crows, and drive the club towards on-field success.
“I’ll be demanding, and Phil would want that as a coaching group” – Scott Camporeale
Featured in Channel Seven’s footy coverage during Round 15, the 39-year-old said while the Crows are doing their best to focus on what’s ahead, Walsh’s legacy will never be forgotten.
“He’s just an unbelievable person and the most caring person I’ve seen in footy,” Camporeale reflected.
“It was never about him, it was always about you and how you’re going, what’s going on in your life and family. He was just a real gentleman really and, as a coach learning the way, it was a great experience to have someone like him mentor you going forward.
“The one thing he did have was an unbelievable balance of [knowing that] when it’s time to work, it’s time to work… but he knew when it was time to have a joke and a bit of fun. He was also a great story-teller and one of the best at that as well.
“All the great coaches have one-liners and we put them all up there the other day, so that was great for the group just to reminisce on some of the great moments we’ve had with Phil up until now.
“But the overarching thing was he just cared. That was a big thing that endeared him into the group.”
Having been an assistant coach at the Crows since the end of 2010, Camporeale is now in charge of an AFL club for the first time in the a tragic and unique set of circumstances.
“I think the number one priority here is trying to get the players into a mindset where they can play and compete. From training so far, they’ve really enjoyed being back out there,” Camporeale said.
“It’s a day by day proposition but I’ll be demanding, and Phil would want that as a coaching group. We have similar philosophies on the game so I’ll be as demanding as I can [while] treading the line.
“But the players have to understand and we had a conversation about the expectation of the way we want to play and what’s coming up. We’re here to do a job and to win games of footy and we’re on one mission, which 17 other clubs are trying to achieve as well.”
“the overarching thing was he just cared. That was a big thing that endeared him into the group” – Scott Camporeale
This weekend, the Crows take on cross-town foe Port Adelaide – a club Walsh spent a lot of time at as an assistant coach – in what will be another emotional showdown. This time, the usual intense rivalry will be put to one side.
Currently in ninth spot on the ladder, the Crows face another challenge of getting back inside the top eight to play off in finals come September.
But Camporeale said in order to get there, the club needs to ensure the playing group aren’t overloaded with information while they’re dealing with grief.
“We talk about the upcoming opponent and I’ve really drilled down into the foundations we’ve laid and sat down and spoke about the foundations we’ve built at the start of November last year, just to get some clarity again. I think that’s important.
“Once again, the players are really focused on, and understand, what we want. That’s one legacy Phil has left – the clear messaging that it’s black and white and we know what we need to do, so there won’t be anything outside of that.”