Fishing rod beckons retiring coach adviser

Looking back . . . Sport Otago community coach adviser Mike Weddell will retire on Thursday. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Fish will have more to worry about this week, as Mike Weddell is set to retire.

The Sport Otago community coach adviser will retire on December 20, after about 18 years at the organisation, and plans to get more use out of his fishing rod.

Originally from Northumberland in the United Kingdom, Weddell (69) moved to Dunedin in 1980.

He had been to New Zealand twice before and only planned on staying for about six months, but met his now-wife Sue and settled permanently.

Before working at Sport Otago he did “all sorts of jobs”, including working in a fishing shop and at a gym.

When he moved to Sport Otago he was the athletics development officer, then CoachForce manager, before settling into his current role about six years ago.

He also coaches middle-distance runners during the track and cross-country seasons.

His day job involved organising coach education, including a Performance Coach Advance course for elite coaches.

The two-year course focused on “soft skills”, which was about how to deal and communicate with people.

“It’s about life-long learning for coaches.

“It’s probably one of the best programmes that I’ve ever been involved in.”

It was one of the many highlights from his time at Sport Otago.

He also enjoyed the Connecting Coaches conference which was held about two weeks ago at the University of Otago that attracted about 180 coaches from New Zealand and overseas, and the Coaching in Schools programme which helped senior pupils who coached younger sports teams.

In his retirement, he will continue to coach and compete in athletics, a sport he took up when he was 19.

“I was not really much of a runner before that. I did the odd race at school but nothing much.

“Then when I was 19 I thought well I will give it a good bash and I have been doing it ever since.”

He studied physical education at Durham University and said the highlight of his time there was winning the 800m and 1500m events.

University was also where he first got a taste for coaching.

“I wasn’t coaching properly then but I was helping the other athletes.”

Also a keen fisherman, Weddell, who will turn 70 in April, joked that he planned to fish more in his spare time, and write more books about fly-fishing. He has had four published, is working on his fifth and he is also the Otago Daily Times‘ angling writer.

Running his small, online business and mastering the banjo were also on the list.

“I have always played the guitar but the family bought me a banjo two Christmases ago not realising how loud it was, so my practice has been really limited.”