As I watched Nahki Wells and Bradford City’s wonderful Capitol Cup victory over Arsenal I couldn’t help but think how a young man from my small island could look so good against established international players from much larger countries!
Obviously he is talented. We seem to be blessed in Bermuda with a wealth of talented players. Is talent enough though? That question was in part answered the next day at work for me. My cousin is a good friend of Nahki and told me how he conducts himself when he returns to the island. Not drinking alcohol, sticking to a training program and eating a proper diet. All part of what it takes to keep a footballer at the top of his game.
As a coach I have often asked my young players “who wants to be a professional player?” Nearly every hand goes up and they are all smiles and wide-eyed, hoping I am about to provide them with the tools they need to reach that goal.
To be talented alone is not enough. Coaches, we must know the game. We must be able to pass that knowledge onto our players. We must educate ourselves, better ourselves as coaches by attending coaching courses and picking the brains of those that are more experienced than us. The game today is quicker, players must be able to run at top speed over a range of distances. The game in tight spaces is also faster because there is more pressure on the ball carrier. Quick decisions, adapting to new situations all come into play when training to cope with the evolution of the game.
As coaches we must also stress the positive development of the player off the field if he has dreams of being a ‘pro’. Help your players understand the importance of being on time. If they are younger and depend on the parents to transport them then talk to the parents and make them know how vital that is! Jump on it when they are under 8 and at under 12 you will not have a problem.
Parents, I’m sure your player has at some point told you that they want to play professionally one day. Do you do all you can to help them reach that goal? Do you make sure they eat a healthy, balanced diet or do you turn a blind eye to the candy and sodas because they scored a ‘hat-trick’ this morning? Do you attend their training sessions and games or do you drop them at the gate and tell them to call you when training’s finished? Give them the encouragement and support they need without pushing them too hard. Help your coach by letting him coach and giving positive feed back.
Always encourage your young player to strive for their goals, whatever they may be. Remember that the road to becoming a professional player is a long and difficult one. It takes many sacrifices and years of hard work and dedication.
How badly do you want it?