Walsh turns a brief eye to football

In a slightly unusual move, Charlie Walsh, the previous head cycling coach of Australia's track program, has temporarily teamed up with his former AIS cycling team physiologist-turned Australian Rules football coach, lending advice to players from the Adelaide Crows football team.

Crows coach Neil Craig worked with Walsh as a physio with the Australian cycling team for 15 years, and recently asked his former boss if he could sit on the bench as one of his assistants. Walsh has been recruited to advise the football stars on the psychological aspects of the game, which Walsh believes shares many similarities to the sport he coached for more than 20 years.

"If I compare a group of senior Adelaide players against elite-level cyclists, then the fierceness and commitment to do what is required in their sport is the same," Walsh said to the Melbourne's The Age newspaper.

"It's about athletes understanding they need to prepare themselves, be in control and do their job. If they are disappointed about coming off [meaning dropped from the team for a particular game-Ed.], and all those sorts of things, they need to be helped, not in a football perspective, but psychologically," he said.

Walsh, often in the press for his controversial viewpoints and training methods, rates footballers just as highly in terms of attitude, fierceness and being prepared to "continually hurt in the face of pain" - something former pupil Stuart O'Grady never fails to forget.

"We are taking footballers, putting them on the bikes at training, and causing them pain. And they don't back off. We do everything precisely, and train them accordingly, just like we do with elite cyclists."

When asked about Australia's run of success since he left his post as head track cycling coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, replaced by Canadian Martin Barras with the programme overseen by Shayne Bannan, Walsh has no hard feelings. "Shayne [Bannan] is doing a fantastic job," he said. "We worked well together and he has taken the program we developed that bit further.

"As soon as I went, those in opposition to me took a breather and Shayne was allowed to effect a bit more control. I couldn't sack the cyclists, whereas they gave this ability to him. Athletes knew there was no consequence with me, but there is with Shayne, and he runs his ship very, very well. There is a way to go about things to be successful, and that has been maintained by a good team of coaches."

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