Australia’s longest serving and most succesful National Coach, Phil Sibbons, has today announced his intention to step down from the top job. Coaching a National Team is understandably hugely demanding, even more so when it’s a volunteer position, and Phil has stepped aside in order to be able to spend more time with his wife and daughters.
Phil has been involved with Korfball at the highest level in Australia since the early days of Korfball Australia, taking part in Australia’s second World Championships in 1987 as a player. Phil continued playing until after the 1991 World Championships, after which he took a sabbatical from the game. On his return to the National set-up before the 1999 World Championships, Phil’s attention turned towards coaching, while continuing his playing career. This led to him being appointed National Coach for the first time in 2000, the first of two stints at the helm of the National Team.
Phil’s first term in charge of the National Team was highly successful, with the crowning achievement being Australia’s first place win at the 2004 Asia-Oceania Championships, Australia’s first, and so far only, Gold Medal at an international competition. Phil continued coaching the National Team until after the 2007 World Championships, when he stepped away for a well deserved break.
Phil did return to the National set-up in 2014, and brought with him a new, dynamic, style of play. This style has brought success to the National program, has given Australian Korfball a point of difference to be proud of, and caught the attention of many opposition coaches along the way. The highlight of Phil’s second stint as National Coach will no doubt be Australia’s 6th place finish at the 2017 World Games, where the new dynamic Korfball caused headaches for some of the world’s top ranked teams.
Phil leaves the National setup having coached Australia at 5 Asia Oceania Championships, 3 World Championships, and 2 World Games, as well as several U23 tournaments. In a sign of Phil’s coaching success, every Australian team, be it at Open or age-group level, who have attempted to qualify for a World Championships spot with Phil at the helm has succeeded. Add in his 3 World Championships (among other tournaments) as a player, and it’s fair to say Phil has had a significant impact on the sport in Australia. Roy Kirkby, President of Korfball Australia, sums up Phil’s influence by saying, “[His] value to korfball, to players, coaches and our sport in Australia…is [in] the very professional approach he has brought into every aspect of the elite experience and everyone benefits from that.”
As may be expected, Phil’s retirement does mean that Korfball Australia will be looking for a new National Coach in the near future. More information on this will be released in the coming weeks.
Thank you Phil, for all that you have done for the National program, and the sport as a whole, over the past 30+ years. We wish you all the best, and hope you and your family enjoy having more time to spend with each other.