CAPTION: The National Under 20 side. Photo: MARGARET NAQIRI.
By JACK REDDY in Canada
It must start with a strong “Coaching Philosophy”, based on the Style of Play with the following components at any age level:
In addition to the above, the actual coaching content will also have: set pieces, goalkeeping, formations, systems and a strategy.
Technical: The ability to efficiently perform a task or specific soccer movement. The players have to know the “what, when, where, why and how”, before they can actually play the game, and they must be very comfortable in doing these tasks. Repetition of every technical move is very important; finally the techniques should be tested with actual opposition which now becomes a player’s “skill”. Once again, it is important to repeat this on a daily basis until the players can actually perform in a session.
Tactical: Aspects to improve game understanding. These are based on the “Principles of Plays” (attacking principles and defending principles); this basically leads to a better understanding of the total game. Players must know, understand and be able to perform EVERY tactical functional play, only than the coach can see success. Tactical Functional Training — Decisions by players as to which skill is necessary as dictated by the game. It joins together technical implications and tactical functions of players by their respective positions. It is position specific and the training is done in that area of the field where the player normally plays. Coaches must be able to show, teach and guide players in every situation; every player must understand their roles and responsibilities, this can only be accomplished if they are trained on a regular basis by qualified and knowledgeable coaches. The tactical functional plays will build the relationship between the players in every group, and players will have a better understanding of the movements on and off the ball. Finally the coaches will now have to combine the groups of players in a “Phase of Play” session to see the success, again this can not be achieved in one or two sessions, players must go through these sessions on a regular basis. Coaches must be able to work the right side players, the middle players, the left side players and the final product will have to be the whole team. Game awareness has to be paramount.
Physical: Aspects to increase Performance. A very important part of the preparation, this includes pre-season, during the season and post season. A proper planning is important, with proper recovery sessions so players can perform to the maximum. Players must go through a very rigorous training program, and coaches have to be able to read and evaluate the results, have an understanding of the current research and data available, and be able to compare and ascertain how specific fitness activities will enhance a player’s performance. Physiology, physiology of exercise, nutrition, the components of fitness (Speed training, flexibility training, and weight training), and rest and recovery are all parts of the total fitness program. Coaches knowledgeable in each area of the discipline are better prepared to enhance a player’s physical capabilities in the game.
Psychosocial: Aspects todevelop intelligent and mentally strong soccer players. Coaches must know how to motivate their players, and what it takes for players to have self motivation. The basic requirements for a player: motivation, self-confidence, cooperation, decision-determination. Players must be put into a challenging environment where learning is fun with the belief they are making a solid contribution to the program. This will lead to the advanced state in player development, this being: competitiveness, concentration, commitment and self control. This will automatically lead players to have the “ownership” of the whole program, thereby eliminating the need to supervise each and every player and control their every move. EVERY National team in Fiji has struggled with discipline problems, educating these players should be paramount, and they will only learn when they have the “ownership” of the program. Once they accept this and buy into the strong set of “values & beliefs” of the Association, you will have great two way communication with respect and discipline.
When it comes to “age group” coaching / teaching, the coaches have to be aware of the playing level, physical attributes, self awareness, ethnic background, religious beliefs and most important the parents support of the players and their financial constraints. If these are overlooked for any obvious reasons, players will not be able to perform to their optimal levels, their focus and concentration would be on their own problems. Coaches must be able to deal with every different situation, every player must be welcome, and the performance on the field should indicate a very happy player. Players’ welfare is of utmost importance.
The major problem in Fiji has always been the lack of experienced and knowledgeable people in this game, for them it has always been “win at any cost” rather than implementing a proper development program for the future. Instead of planning and concentrating on development and a proper Youth League at every age group, or at least U13, U15, U17 etc., their focus has always been CVC, Fiji Fact, BOG and the IDC. The District Management and Technical staff have only one focus, to win the tournaments, as soon as one is over, they start preparing for the next tournament. The District and National coaches have no experience in “age group” teams, how to implement programs to develop their Youth teams, or to participate in “Showcase Tournaments” where the Youth players get a chance to showcase their talents and skills. This is why the overseas teams are ahead of the Fiji National teams. I don’t believe there is a coach in Fiji who has developed a Youth team for a “Showcase” outside Fiji, I could be wrong. If these coaches have never been involved in an “Organized Youth League”, than how can they really understand the youth players and what they really need? How many of these Age Group National Coaches, including the National Coach, can perform the above at a competent level, remains to be seen.