KFC SuperCoach is bringing families closer together – and building a healthy rivalry between a 27-year-old Melbourne man and his 82-year-old fantasy nut grandfather.
When Matt Howard’s phone rings and his grandfather’s name flashes on the screen, he knows there is one topic on his mind – KFC SuperCoach.
“If he calls it’s about some player who’s on fire in the first quarter, or another player who’s injured,” Mr Howard says.
John Blackmore, 82, could be Australia’s oldest fantasy player.
He speaks almost daily with Matt “and we basically talk SuperCoach”.
After introducing his grandpa to the game several years ago, Howard invited him to join a league with his mates, and he has taken the game more seriously every year.
A former long jumper who represented Australia in the 1962 Commonwealth Games, Blackmore watches every AFL game every weekend and does his pre-season research, cutting articles from the Herald Sun when he spies a KFC SuperCoach bargain.
He has even been known to hop on Twitter to see teams being posted by other players.
“I spent quite a few hours on it every day,” he says.
Mr Blackmore has been a Geelong fan for more than 70 years, but there’s no room for sentiment in KFC SuperCoach.
“I just got rid of Tom Stewart because I did some stats and found his home scores are much better than his away scores, and the Geelong ground won’t be ready until halfway through the season.”
He likes James Sicily – “Hawthorn aren’t much good so the ball is going to be down there a lot” – and Marcus Bontempelli was one of his first-picked players. But he’s still not sure who to pick in the ruck.
Mr Howard says KFC SuperCoach has brought the family closer together.
“It’s a massive hobby for him, he spends hours upon hours upon hours on it. He just loves it.
“It keeps his mind ticking over and Nan is happy with it because it gives him something to do.
“All his notes are handwritten, he’s got about 80 pages of them. He’s always trying to come up with some kind of system. He’s actually pretty good at it, his team is looking pretty good at the moment.
“I’m his only grandson and he loves his sport. With me it’s footy, golf and SuperCoach.”
Teacher’s SuperCoach secret to making maths fun
Getting kids excited about maths is a challenge, but a Thomastown teacher has cracked the code by using Australia’s best fantasy game.
Ryan Kimberley has been playing KFC SuperCoach for more than a decade, and he had a “light bulb moment” when he realised he could incorporate into his teaching job.
Every year about 200,000 KFC SuperCoach players pick their own fantasy team of AFL stars who all have a price value and score points every round based on their statistics in real games.
“I absolutely love SuperCoach, you may say that I’m obsessed with the game,” Mr Kimberley said this week.
“There is so much maths involved in SuperCoach, from budgets to addition, subtraction, percentages, averages – basically any type of maths you can think of, you can do it in SuperCoach. And the kids just love it.
“Ten years ago I used to give out a lot of worksheets and it just wasn’t really engaging, so with the game of SuperCoach it’s super engaging, they’re using technology, they’re focusing on their favourite football team and their favourite players.”
One session last week in Kimberley’s grade 5/6 class at Thomastown East Primary School featured on Melbourne superstar Christian Petracca. After working as a class to find different ways to add up to his huge round 1 score last year of 163 points, Kimberley’s students split into groups to focus on different numbers including Petracca’s big price tag in KFC SuperCoach this season of $618,600.
They identified other players they could trade him to and even showed their vocabulary skills by listing words to describe the star Demon including skilful, brave and athletic.
“We’ve seen some terrific results, and best of all it’s been really fun to do,” said Mr Kimberley, whose unique teaching approach has the full backing of his principal.
And he wants other schools to follow his lead.
“I think all schools should be doing it because it’s free, it’s fun and it’s engaging for the kids. I’ve got a heap of activities that I’ve created, so if you’re interested feel free to contact me.”
When it comes to his own team, Mr Kimberley – who has a YouTube channel offering KFC SuperCoach advice under the moniker SuperCoach with DR – says he is feeling “a little bit stressed”, with the ruck position providing the biggest headaches.
And the stakes are high at Thomastown East.
“When the season actually starts this is where things are really going to hot up,” he says. “We’ve got a grade 5-6 league, and a grade 6 league as well. We’ve got some special prizes for the winners.”
And competition is fierce, according to grade 6 student and Collingwood fan Pranish Pantha.
“It’s a fun way of doing maths, it’s better than doing worksheets or random tests,” he said.
Pranish’s favourite player Nick Daicos is one of the stars of his KFC SuperCoach team, and he’s looking forward to going head-to-head against “Mr K”.
“Hopefully I can beat him. He’s a funny teacher and very generous. My team is way better than his, he is going to get demolished by me.”
Originally published as Grandfather John Blackmore, 82, could be Australia’s oldest KFC SuperCoach player