FOR A fleeting moment in the middle of the uncertainty late on Monday evening, Simon Goodwin could have been forgiven for thinking: When will it end?

On a stormy night in Perth, the lightning that halted the latter stages of Melbourne’s tense victory over West Coast felt like a season’s worth of disruption distilled into a single unforeseen moment. When asked later how he tried to handle the suspension in play, Goodwin simply said that "there were a lot of unknowns", a sentence that could be dropped into any coach's press conference from almost any point this year and still contextually make sense. 

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A week earlier, Goodwin’s Demons had experienced match preparation in the form of a full day in the air, Queensland’s sudden covid outbreak upon their arrival forcing his side into a same-day Gold Coast roundtrip. After the relocated clash in Melbourne, it was then off to Perth and straight into quarantine. Then the lightning.

Amid such constant upheaval and disruption, how does one effectively plan at this level? Develop structure? Or even just, simply, operate?

It’s interesting how these moments and events can bring the flashpoints of documentaries back into sharp focus in one’s mind, particularly for those of us who are aficionados of the genre. And the past week has done it for multiple sports and documentaries of varying recency.

For many who watched the Boomers claim a historic bronze medal in Tokyo, the importance of the story told by the ABC’s wonderful Luc Longley: One Giant Leap feature will have formed a prominent backdrop. Longley, after all, was the man who pioneered Australia’s venture into the NBA and the upper echelons of basketball, a realm that’s now been normalised for Australians but that had felt like space exploration until him.

NOW STREAMING ‘The Chosen Few’ in AFL On Demand

Elsewhere in the world, those who’d seen 2018’s Take the Ball, Pass the Ball will have seen the crumbling in recent days of the kingdom it depicted. Lionel Messi now gone, Barcelona a rubble, a slowly dying footballing religion that had once transformed a sport a decade ago reached its dramatic end point this week with the Argentinian’s departure.

And then there’s footy.

Season 2021 has perhaps been defined more than anything by the three Cs: COVID, chaos and coaches. In taxing circumstances the grind has been very real, the list of those gone, going and under fire being eye-opening in their prominence: Nathan Buckley at Collingwood, Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn, David Teague at Carlton.

A year like no other and its blindingly visible challenges has served as a reminder of just how gruelling coaching can be, the world explored in depth back in 2014 by Peter Dickson and AFL Media in The Chosen Few.

NOW STREAMING ‘The Chosen Few’ in AFL On Demand

The film was unprecedented at the time in the scale and nature of its access. Following 17 coaches and with little off-limits, it discusses and uncovers the toll and the difficulty of coaching, from player and media relations through to stress, insomnia, physical health and isolation.

And as 2021 veered into another form of disruption on Monday evening to leave a pair of coaches scrambling once again, it felt as relevant as ever.