Jeff Olver: “Natasha’s dedication and determination is the reason she developed quickly”

By Theo Athans

Jeff Olver is an Australian footballing legend with his amazing club and country goalkeeping career quickly followed by three decades of coaching experience at state, national and international level.

In 1999, Olver was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame amongst legends like Johnny Warren and Rale Rasic, and post-retirement he moved into coaching.

Olver’s coaching experience is second to none, coaching both outfield and goalkeeper to some of Australia’s most legendary footballing names.

He currently runs his own coaching program called Football Zone Coaching where he passes on his own expertise to run personalised one on one coaching with young aspiring keepers to help improve their skills. Olver explained the journey of coaching after retirement that allowed him to reach those heights.

“It started at the old VSF back in the day as a development officer for 10 years before starting to do coaching clinics where my love for coaching really came through,” he said.

“Been coaching for well over 30 years and the only level I haven’t coached at was the Socceroos. I coached players like Mark Viduka, Marco Bresciano, Vince Grella, even Josh Kennedy at Carlton, all at State level as well as coaching the Matildas which was a fantastic experience.”

Jeff Olver was a huge inspiration to recent Box Hill United signing Natasha Stathopoulos, coaching her for six years between the ages of 16 to 21.

Olver explained how Natasha’s attitude was the catalyst to her incredible growth as a goalkeeper over the years. A perfect addition to a Box Hill United side that is focused on great attitude, character and striving for ultimate success.

“Natasha’s dedication and determination is the reason she developed quickly, she is also really just a nice person and that bodes well for the coaching,” Olver said.

“She has just taken all the opportunities that have come to her, going from u16’s up to 19’s then senior level, and that progress is all through her effort and hard work which is being rewarded.

“Natasha has worked really hard and deserves this opportunity at NPL level to get regular game time and hopefully help her grow to the next level. I’m super excited to see what the future holds for her.”

Olver explained his simplistic approach to his goalkeeping program which has turned goalies with very little tangible skills into some reliable players.

“The way I train my keepers in the program is focused on about short 6-8 reps of every activity and about getting the technique right through repetition, similarly to a tennis player practicing backhand and forehand. Especially for Natasha my philosophy is to make sure she repeats the techniques for matchday,” Olver explained.

“I run my own academy now working full-time for myself and I enjoy giving people the opportunity to go to the next level in their career.  A lot of the players I coach buy into this philosophy and especially Natasha who has done quite well over the last couple of years.”

Natasha chose Olver’s coaching program at a time where she was struggling with the basics of keeping but very quickly evolved into a great all-round keeper using his coaching techniques.

“She has made a massive improvement from when she started – and we have a giggle about it now – but she used to dive and fall on her back but that’s how I was when I started and quickly developed. She has worked a lot on her diving technique, positioning and playing out from the back with her feet.”

Jeff Olver is the illustration of professionalism and his impact on Australian football across over 40 years can’t be understated.

His simplistic but successful coaching strategy will certainly be uncovered through Natasha Stathopoulos in the Box Hill Women’s side which sets up an exciting 2024 campaign for her and the squad.