“To have really good senior teams, you need to have a really good youth program and that starts with this course and you coaches,” said FIFA coaching instructor Nicola Demaine.
This is one of her key messages during the official opening of the FIFA/FFAS Youth Coaching Course on Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 at Pago Park Soccer Stadium that has resonated with many of the participants.
“It is our president’s (Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet), and executive committee’s hope that all of you learn a lot this week because this is a very important age group this course is targeting,” said Rev. Ioane Evagelia, FFAS board member and president of Utulei Youth Soccer Club. He opened the course on behalf of Faiivae, and the association.
FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua expanded on the role of the coach within each club and their importance.
“Coaches are one of the main keys in the development of a club and its players, because improving the skills of the players comes from you,” Taumua explained. “Most of our current coaches don’t know how to read the game, but this is where this course comes in, to help you be able to analyze it, and also all the players on the field.
“As a coach, you need to improve yourself, you need to be able to know how to improve the skill levels of players at this age (13-16),” he added. “This course should help you learn the different formats being used by other teams, and one that fits yours, be able to read the game and make adjustments.”
Evagelia and two other club presidents are also participants of the course.
“This is a tremendous teaching aid for us to pass on to our players,” said Tafuna Jets foreperson, Naomi Oney.
“We have a lot of good youth players in our club, and I believe attending this course will help me and my coach, (Lotu Tua), improve on their skills,” said Vaiala Tongan president, Chris Taimovai.
Two other participants are also trying to learn all they can in the week-long class.
“We’ve learned and gained a lot of knowledge from Ms. Nicola, and this benefits our team as individuals and as a group,” said Sifusi Kuresa, one of two PanSa reps attending. “The sessions are very effective, it’s the fastest way we learn, and it’s hands on training when we go out on the field and play out what we’ve already planned in the classroom.”
Being involved in the course has also changed the way she looks at the coaching aspect of the game.
“At first I thought it wasn’t a lot to it, the coaching field, but now I know there’s so much there that we should learn, because there is a lot of planning involved.”
Pago Youth rep, BJ Samuelu, said it has helped him differentiate between the many age groups.
“I’ve learned the difference between the age groups involved and what type of sessions to plan,” he explained. “There’s a difference between grassroots, youth, U-17 and other age groups. We can’t teach the younger ones the skill levels of the youth, and it starts from the bottom, to all the way up.
“One of the things I like about this is that we as coaches must play our own sessions for our teams and have it fit the type of players we have.”
Taumua added that this is just the beginning of bigger things for FFAS.
“This is the first coaching course for us to start our club licensing pathway into improving and professionalizing all of our clubs,” he pointed out. “Our competition manager (Richard Donovan) and I recently attended a club licensing seminar in New Zealand, and based on the testimony’s we heard from other countries, this was very effective in making their national teams get better and better.
“Having coaches attain licenses in different age groups under the Club Licensing regulations, these people were able to develop their youth players into good players that in turn made their national teams improve as well.
“So this coaching course for the youth is just the first step we are taking into adopting these new regulations that we hope will develop great soccer players in American Samoa.”