Transcript

A Talk with Mick Malthouse

Mick Malthouse

Audio

You can also listen to the interview [MP3 10.7MB].

iTunes

Visit this channel at La Trobe on iTunesU.

Transcript

Meghan Lodwick:

Welcome to a La Trobe University podcast.I'm Meghan Lodwick and today I'm interviewing La Trobe University's newly appointed Vice Chancellor's Fellow, Mick Malthouse.Mick is famous for his career in professional football, which spanned over four decades and will use that experience to teach and mentor university students on leadership and life skills.

Mick Malthouse:

Once people realised that my term at Collingwood was finishing, they were looking at opportunities outside of football and Tony Sheehan asked me to talk to the amateur side, not with much success, mind you, well, they certainly lost the next day, so that didn't help, but all of a sudden I had a feel for La Trobe for some reason or other and when the opportunity arose to talk to the people here, that sounded like a good idea and it fitted the bill.I'd always been involved either as a coach in the last 28 years but player, which was heavily involved in teammanship if you like, and to come here and to be able to give, or lend my support to people that need leadership, or are looking for leadership, mentoring or just simply an outside view of life as opposed to just the structure that people are probably so used to, coming out of secondary education, coming to university, so in this case I can lend my experiences from winning and losing, holding a job, not holding a job, there's a lot out there that in my game depended on results and sometimes you've got to get away from those results and look at the people involved, and if you can improve the people involved, then that's the satisfaction of it.So, I've worked with a lot of people in those 40-odd years, and I think by learning about them I can directly associate that with staff, or graduates, or anyone else at the uni.

Meghan Lodwick:

Like you were saying that you've worked with a lot of young people, what methods and skills do you hope to instil in someone that may have no direction at all.

Mick Malthouse:

Try to get them to think positively, because in today's society, really, people are given a fairly good choice and a good opportunity.I sometimes think that we take the easy way out and think that – why me?How can it happen to me? And why should it happen to me?Instead of thinking, the uni's there for a reason.The opportunities are there for a reason.I would have backed myself.If you start and think inferior, you will be.If you think that you can't, there's an absolute certainty you won't.So, give people positive feedback and let them believe in themselves.I've coached three football clubs.Collingwood on the bottom, West Coast were second or third bottom, and Footscray were not far off the bottom, and within two or three seasons, we'd either played off in a Grand Final or played off in finals.And that's a belief that you can do it.You don't have to accept what people keep telling you, that you may not be good enough, or look where you come from.The idea is, believe in yourself, believe in the system and don't think inferior.

Meghan Lodwick:

That's pretty sound advice.Like when you think of how you got into leadership, were those the kind of qualities that you always held, and you brought those into the profession?

Mick Malthouse:

Some things just happen.I envisaged myself as a coach, but never as an AFL coach.Perhaps I'm lowering my aim.All of a sudden I finished playing and I was given the opportunity to coach Footscray Football Club, which I'm forever grateful to, but you don't have a choice on leadership.You're either I believe, born with leadership qualities – there are made leaders.I questioned the test there is under pressure, who survives it, and I think the person who has a natural leadership ability stands out, because they make instant decisions, sometimes wrong, but they learn from that more quickly than someone with a textbook in front of them, that say, what have I got to do?I don't say that I thought that I was a leader, but clearly over a period of time, I've been cast into that position, so you assume that position, and I felt comfortable in that position.You doubt yourself time and time again, make no mistake about it.And it has its price.Leadership is a very expensive exercise, because you are quite often put into a corner, and you're not the most popular person.As a leader you've got to make decisions that don't always suit everyone.But nonetheless if you stick to what your principles are, and you believe in yourself, and you have people that will follow you, then you've got a real chance of succeeding as an organisation.That's probably as a football coach, and I don't see any difference in industry or at university.

Meghan Lodwick:

Mick, are there any instances that you had while you were coaching, that you felt like you really helped someone or you really motivated them to keep going, or strive high?

Mick Malthouse:

If there's a legacy at all, I'd like to think that I've given opportunity to people to develop, and every kid that came into our football club, my number one goal was to make them better by the end of the term, if they were there for one year or they were there for twelve or thirteen years, they walked out feeling that they'd achieved more than when they'd come in.So in other words, they were culturally more aware, football-wise you'd like to think they were better, but also better people.The argument will be that most parents think that their kids come in and they're already good kids, and my thing to them was, that's fine, but we're going to improve that model.And if you do that, then you've succeeded, I believe.That was probably first and foremost that I ever thought about in a football club, so that's the legacy that I would like to leave as a football coach and certainly a legacy I'd like to develop here is that if you have an opportunity with someone, it's you make them better.

Meghan Lodwick:

Here at La Trobe we have many sports programs.How do you see yourself complementing them?

Mick Malthouse:

The thing you ask yourself always, when you come off the ground, what have you done to make someone better, no matter what sport you play.That principle applies to all team sports.How can you make someone else better?The other thing is, too, to make sure that we have got the right structures in place so that if someone wants to go into the industry of sport, and it's such a massive industry these days, Melbourne in particular's got nearly every sporting type, whether it be rugby union, soccer, football, basketball, netball, archery, to whatever, we've got it here.And they're all associations and they all need people going through there from time to time and there's the dieticians, there's strength coaches, there's running coaches, there's psychologists, and there's physios and there's administrators and we must identify ourselves as having the opportunity to supply all that information to any student, and to be at an elite level, to supply that information, so that they become accustomed that La Trobe is the place to be, if you really want to succeed in sports, so how can I help?By experiences I suppose.I've learnt to be able to get clubs in a better position than what I started with, and I'm very proud of that.

Meghan Lodwick:

What about you Mick?Do you have any kind of stand-out experiences that you had that made you a better person or a better leader?

Mick Malthouse:

Mistakes.Mistakes make you better.You learn from them.The old adage, learn from someone else's mistakes – that's fine, but you haven't put your hand on the fire, and when you have, you know that's a mistake.And you learn from that.And that makes you better.You don't do it again.And it's the same with team structures.Sometimes it's the same when you handle an individual and quite often in the early days you may have made the wrong decision, but you're learnt from that.I just think that any person you touch has to come away from that place with a positive attitude.There's no prisoners in football.Most players that finish, don't finish on their own terms, but you want them to be able to walk out of there and you've touched their life to the point where they recognise that it was a good organisation, they helped me, I'm better for it and I've got great memories from what my period at that place, wherever I've been, that's what I would like to do.So, you asked the question, have I learnt?Making mistakes and going on and trying to remedy them but also improving the next time.

Meghan Lodwick:

It kind of sounds like you haven't really retired.The same utilities that you used while you were a professional footballer coaching young people to coach a different sort of young people.

Mick Malthouse:

I didn't retire then come here, because retirement really is the end. No, this is just another step.The interesting thing about it is, I've been asked, why uni? Because I get 17 to 37 year-olds in front of me.Here, I dare say the majority of young kids that come through here, 18, 19, 20, so there's no difference.And they want to succeed.But in the groupings that I have had through football, there are some that want to succeed and those that hope to succeed.A play on words, but want and hope are so vastly different.And there will be no question that there will be students who come through here that desperately want to succeed and nothing will stand in their way. And then there's others that hope to do it, if there's a hiccup in front of them, well they'll bounce around a bit, instead of attacking it. But that's life. So you've got to help them through as much as the ones that desperately want to get through.

Meghan Lodwick:

Do you think it's possible to make the ones that hope into the ones that want?

Mick Malthouse:

Well, put it this way, there's only one word that I associate with success, of any particular person, and that's ambition.If you've got great ambition, you will do everything humanly possible to succeed, to get to that goal.When you lack ambition, you will cut corners, you will take shortcuts and you will accept failures.

Meghan Lodwick:

Are you excited about your new role here?

Mick Malthouse:

Do you think I am?

Meghan Lodwick:

I think you look pretty excited.It's a different setting.I mean, it's exciting to enter a new place I would think.

Mick Malthouse:

Well, I'll come in with the same reservations as probably half the students.Because it's my first time at a uni.So I don't know what to expect.I've been very much welcomed.It's been outstanding, the welcoming.But I still feel very threatened by it, because I've never been to this type of institution before.So, I'm in the same category as those kids, but I'll be giving it my best shot.

Meghan Lodwick:

I guess it can be a daunting experience for anyone --a new place to go, a different set of people, and all that kind of thing.Are you still going to be working or looking after your old profession in any way?

Mick Malthouse:

Only from behind a camera, working for Channel 7 and 3AW.It gives me a less tense observation of the game.When my stomach was in a knot prior to a game and it didn't unwind until after the game – now I really don't feel as if that will take place.I'll just view the game as a neutral and give my supposed expert analysis as best I can.

Meghan Lodwick:

I guess that's one point.You've had tons of media experience.We have a sports journalist program here at La Trobe.Do you think some of that will kind of drop into helping some of the kids understand what it's like to work in their field.

Mick Malthouse:

Oh, I'm going to love that one.It's going to be my favourite.

Meghan Lodwick:

Are you going to be a hard interviewee?

Mick Malthouse:

Well, I'm going to be an interviewee – I don't know about a hard interviewee.They'll have to work that out.They'll have to be on their toes.Put it that way.I'll give them a pretty good experience of what life is on the other side.

Meghan Lodwick:

Yes, because I guess you can't teach that out of a textbook at all.

Mick Malthouse:

No you cannot.You cannot pick up in a textbook the mood of the person you're interviewing because one thing is for certain – if that person is as passionate about the sport and they've just lost a game of football, and it was fifteen minutes earlier, and he's worked out that he's got an injury or a suspension, and they come in with lame questioning, let me warm the people, that is not the way to go about a good interview.

Meghan Lodwick:

Yes, I think AFL would be a very hot and cold profession with emotion, and so would you say the same for people that work in physiology or podiatry or something like that?Would they have to encounter the same mood swings?

Mick Malthouse:

Oh, absolutely.Physios in particular because if you're not injured, you don't go to a physio.And quite often the physio is the first point after the doctor's assessment that rehabilitation is starting to take place.When you mention rehabilitation, you're generally meaning that you're missing a game at least.And players, they believe they're made for one thing, and that is to play, and they don't want to be out.And it's the body language, it's the mannerism of that person, of being able to assess the player's mood and what type of person he is, very quickly, can shape him.And shape that physio-player relationship, and if it's not strong, and if it's not centred on the player, he feels deserted because he wants to get back out there and play.It's not just journalism that's going to touch – it's any part of sport that influences the outcome of a player playing or not playing, or playing at his best or not playing at his best, the ramifications are great, because they dedicate their life to it.If they're cut short in it, there goes some dreams.Be a dream maker, not a dream breaker.

Meghan Lodwick:

Yeah, and I guess it's a different story from learning the protocol in the classrooms but actually feeling the pressure on the field.

Mick Malthouse:

Well, every player's different.Some will accept, some will challenge, and others will just be downright rude.Because they just want to play.

Meghan Lodwick:

And that's something I think students would have to experience.

Mick Malthouse:

Oh yes.And with any sort of luck we can supply that information to them, because we've got great access to most of the sporting bodies here in Melbourne and these bodies are very keen for students to go out and have a feel for what it's like, so we can offer that opportunity.

Meghan Lodwick:

That's all the time we've got for our La Trobe University podcast today.If you'd like to leave some feedback about this or any other podcast in this series, or suggest a possible topic, you can get in touch with usat podcast@latrobe.edu.au.

No results found. Try searching again:

Search for ...

Find an expert

Search our experts database.