No doubt that this post will be lost in the general angst of Brexi but I recently had a great experience that I wanted to share with you.
In the ski season I’m often asked what I do in the summer and apart from some other things that I’m working on and generally planning my diary for the ski season, my main work is coaching football for kids.
For the last 5 or so years I’ve worked for a company called Intersoccer who run after school football all over Switzerland but principally in the French speaking area along the Lake Geneva riviera. This has lead to me developing loads of great young footballers and it’s fantastic to see them grow up and improve their skills.
I normally first come into contact with them when they are about 5 years of age and I normally keep them within the Intersoccer system until the point at which they need much more competitive football can start to go and play club football with local teams.
Something that I have put in place over the last two seasons with Intersoccer is matches against other Intersoccers to measure our progress. For example, Intersoccer in Montreux played Intersoccer Lausanne recently in a return match of ones that we held last autumn.
The tournament was originally designed as a fun morning for the kids to show off their skills but after our narrow defeat to Lausanne (by some much bigger boys I might add) my team from Montreux were determined for revenge.
My approach to coaching football is very sequential, much like learning to ski. I worked on this for a number of years with my colleague and now famous on Indian TV, Stevie Grieve. It follows that you need to have the basics down before you can move onto the next level. For example, a very basic model might look like this;
Ball manipulation > moving with ball > turning with ball > passing ball > shooting with ball
Obviously there is much more to it than this but as the weeks go on, I start to build some very competent young footballers who can more than old their own against older boys and are often playing for their school teams. When they pop out of my system, they often go to play for local clubs and fit in very well due to their skills foundation.
Back to the tournament, we ended up drawing two matches against older boys with my senior group, a result that they were very proud of and my more junior guys smashed their equivalents in Lausanne playing with less players and still winning 8 or 9 -0.
It was amazing to see the lack of fear in these young guys, trying their skills and playing with freedom, trusting their instincts. When I coach from the sidelines, I try to stay quiet as much as possible and let the kids work out solutions to their own problems. If I absolutely have to say something, I try to be positive and encouraging.
When setting up the teams, I try to keep it as simple as possible, My main instructions for this tournament was to hustle the opposition man on the ball and counter attack with speed. The team set up and decided their own formation based on the weeks of practice before.
Anyway, well done to all of you that might be reading this. I’m very proud of what you achieved.
Aside from football coaching, we had another group in the hotel last week, not skiing this time but a group from the UK who were here to learn French and do activities in the afternoon. They had a great week and enjoyed excellent food from our new chef. I had the beginners group of French learners and they made great progress by the end of the week, going out into the village and interacting with real French speakers.
Summer has started properly here now. I sit currently in Geneva and it’s 31 degrees. I really struggle in the heat, especially in the city, so much so that I’m planning a trip back to the UK this weekend in the hope that it is colder. (Assuming that is, they let me back in :))