So we have the infrastructure in place, we’re developing players in regional centers so now what do we coach? Here’s part 2 on how I would deal with developing youth players in Cambodia.
To read developing young players click here
Coach A Players Strengths…
I’ve listened to so many coaches and players have their opinion on why Khmer players are not successful and for me there lies the problem. We’re so concerned with our weaknesses that we forget to develop the strengths we already have. I’m haunted by a story of a young boy I coached early in my career. Aged 4 he could dribble like Messi. It was frightening how he changed direction so quickly. He signed for Arsenal aged 7. Aged 10 he was a shadow of the player, aged 13 he wanted to quit football and aged 16 he finally did. He was coached two touch, two touch. Pulled up in training for not passing when instead he dribbled past two players and crossed. It’s devastating to think the number of players that have been lost to bad coaching methods or the ideals of just one coach.
Developing A Khmer Style…
The first hard lesson I learned here coaching was about pride and/or embarrassment. I was coaching a Khmer team to play out from the back, they gave the ball away and conceded. The defender laughed. I screamed and shouted at him then sent him away from the session. I was told after the session that all I’ve actually done is made myself look stupid and lost a player who wouldn’t play for me again. I watched as national teams players got off the airplane #jobdone holding a signed Honda shirt.
This was after losing 4 games without scoring and conceding 22. Finding that balance with Khmers is tough. You have to push them but you can’t push them the same way as other nationalities. The motivation is different for all of them. Most players in this league can earn more money doing a whole host of jobs so why would they come to a field everyday, earn less money and do things they don’t want to do? or be shouted at? or embarrassed? Whatever the style is you have to understand that Khmer players are unique and unlocking the potential of these players isn’t about changing their style but more about adapting to their culture.
Club Vs Country…..
We can’t control what club coaches coach players. That’s another tick in the regional center column. What is required is a coaching system from the national set up that is knowledgeable of every player, at every club and in BOTH divisions. I can tell you at Next Step we have an analysis team that covers every player in both divisions. We have reports on all of them. With help from our network and my own knowledge we’re able to create a database of Khmer players that enables us to know what’s going on and who to target on this coming pre season. We’ve done this with no budget just 3 people wanting to be the very best at what we do.
In the final part of this series, next week I will give you a more detailed tactical insight into what I believe is the Khmer Style of playing and what we can do in the current system to improve chances of success.
You can check out Next Step FC here.
This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.