It’s not often you hear of player-coaches these days, particularly ones that play for one club and coach another. But in the heart of western Sydney, this niche footballing role remains a reality through the lens of Jarrod Carluccio.
Carluccio is 21-years-old, currently plying his trade with the Western Sydney Wanderers, and looks to be on a healthy trajectory with his football career.
He is also head coach at Western Rage, currently residing in the Football NSW League Three, the fifth tier of football in Australia and fourth in the New South Wales system.
Being a head coach to a team of such calibre at that age is unheard of, especially considering someone who also plays professionally.
But Carluccio’s passion for coaching is rooted deep within his family and conscious, having spent most of his youth in and around the coaching scene.
“My granddad was a coach, and now my dad is a coach, and I was always in and around the sheds when they were both coaching, so I guess I got that inspiration from them,” Carluccio said.
Carluccio has been coaching almost as long as he’s been playing at elite levels. He coached younger teams during his school time and, after, shared a role with his dad at Kemps Creek United in the SDSFA Premier League.
“I was lucky enough during my schooling period to coach younger teams, being a mentor and a leader to them,” Carluccio said. “I guess I got the itch to get into it.
“I started at [Kemps Creek United], had a few successful years there and transitioned into Western Rage, and that’s pretty much it.”
Carluccio has always had an aptitude for squad dynamics and player management.
While at the Wanderers NPL side, Carluccio was the designated captain for two years before transitioning into the first team. He still maintains somewhat of a natural authority.
“The transition into the senior side has been great,” Carluccio said.
“Not only I, but a few of the young boys have begun to break through.
“I’ve always been someone who loves to make sure that the boys younger than me and the boys starting to break in are all okay
“I had captained them previously, and I’ve tried to bring in those leadership roles from the NPL into the first team as best as I can [to aid the younger players] with the transition.”
Carluccio’s leadership persona has helped bridge the gap between the younger players and the more experienced heads, and this theme will continue. His presence in the senior side is undoubtedly noticeable.
This factor will only continue to develop as Carluccio progresses both as a footballer and coach.
“The player management side is shared between being a captain and a coach because you’re managing different characters and different personalities,” Carluccio said.
“But in the coaching side of things, it really just opens the mind up to a whole different side of the game. You see it so differently.
“It’s helped me as a player, and I’m so keen and eager to continue on that journey.”
Being a professional footballer and playing in the A-League, Carluccio’s time is stringent during the season, and he must prioritise certain activities.
Luckily, Western Rage were still happy to sign the contract despite the other, more important, commitments on Carluccio’s end.
“[My priorities] are definitely all with my playing career,” Carluccio said.
“That’s been a goal of mine, and I’ve spoken about that with my coaches and the board at Western Rage. I’m 100% committed to my playing career.
“But on the flip side, I devote as much time as I can to coaching and the club, and they understand that.
“They’ve been great, welcomed me with open arms, and have been really understanding of the commitment of being an A-League player really is.
“I love doing it, so it’s not a burden to me. I love it. Anytime I can be spent near or around a football pitch is golden to me.”
Coaching opens a plethora of opportunities to learn and grow Carluccio’s footballing mind.
This aspect is one of the primary objectives he plans to take from these experiences while still playing and youthful.
“I just want to learn as much as I can and learn from my players and my coaches,” Carluccio said.
“I want to learn from anyone in the game involved and obviously achieve as much as I can.”
As Carluccio’s commitment remains with his playing career, he may not be able to coach wherever his footballing endeavours take him. But he still hopes to coach no matter what cities, countries, and clubs he goes to.
“I’m completely committed to my playing career, so I’ll see where that takes me, whether in the A-League or somewhere else,” Carluccio said.
“But I definitely am looking to continue my coaching career and see where the journey goes.”
It’s evident that coaching is the career path he’d love to take after playing professional football.
“[Coaching] is definitely something I want to look at post-playing career,” Carluccio said.
“It’s something that I want to look at picking up, [but before then], I need to focus on doing my best to achieve and learn as much as I can.”
“I’m just getting more and more eager to continue this journey.”
Image Supplied: Western Sydney Wanderers