If you want to develop good football players, you first have to teach the kids to love football. The love of football comes first. Without this love, no football future. Players who love football, want to train, want to learn, want to play. I develop players who (hopefully) play football for all their life. I love football and I show that to my players all the time. After footballlove comes time and patience. Juniors football is not result-oriented football. Juniors football is learning and developing football!
I'm the type of coach that I would like to have had as a junior (and partially, albeit not enough) had. Peter Stöger said during his time at 1. FC Köln in the Bundesliga some years ago: "Football is a game. A game has to make fun." That is so true! No matter whether Bundesliga or Sunday League. If you don't have fun playing football, why do you play? If football causes you stress or bores you, you quit. It's so old-fashioned to think that seriousness ≠ fun. In my opinion: The more fun, the more serious (keyword: "flow").
In Finland (but not just there), we have a big "drop out"-problem. I've watched many trainings from various clubs throughout the country during my years here, and frankly, I'm not surprised. I seldomly witness fun in the trainings. I see young kids who get positional tactics and who tell me "I can't go forward, because I'm a defender." - "Is something happening here where we both stand?" - "No." - "Do you have fun here?" - "No." - "Is it boring?" - "Yes." - "Would you like to go up there where the action happens with the ball?" - "Yes." - "I say, do it. Go!" Kid runs up in joy. (This conversation actually happened in 2017 with a 9 years old girl.) I see teenagers whose coaches yell at them during games as if they would be professional players getting paid a bonus for winning. I see juniors sitting 70 of 80 minutes on the bench, because they are "not good enough". Well, how are players supposed to get better if they rot on the bench? The only thing you learn on the bench is bench life. Benchwarmers don't develop their football skillz. You need to be on the field for that. If you don't develop, you might as well stay at home on the sofa. So they quit. Another drop out. That makes me sad. And unfortunately it happens again and again and again. Why? It's not rocket science: The more undeveloped your skillz are, the more playing time you need.
I studied psychology and philosophy. This reflects in my coaching methods. I don't want to only develop good players, but good human beings. Ethical values are very important to me. And I have to be a role model for the kids, on and off the pitch. I try my best, but I'm not perfect, of course. I'm there for my players, no matter what age. I believe that my players understand that I offer them 100% and my best. That's why they want to give that back to me. To their team. To themselves. We create a symbiotic effect. I love football You love football. We love football. Together we're strong. It's simple, if you think about it. It's a question of mentality. That's not a theoretical matter. You have to live football. Because you want to.
I follow Aristotle's concept of phronesis (prudence). In short: Between two extremes, striving towards the middle between both is the wise thing to do. Football-example: Offensive pressing is too risky. Defensive pressing is too craven. Midfield pressing is the right mixture. Thus, I prefer to play in midfield pressing systems.
Football happens on the field. Coaching isn't just a question of theory. It's a practical affair. I don't only think about football theoretically. I think about it practically. I think about the game. Like a player. Because players play the games, not coaches. No players, no game. Fact! I have a lot of playing experience and know how players think and function, what they need. Been there, done that. That's something you can never learn in theoretical courses and seminars. Experience is important. You need to know and understand what happens on the field, why it happens, and what effect it has on the players. For example, when you lead 2-0, and the opponent scores a goal. What do you do? Take out your tactical board? Nah, man. That's now a psychological issue. If I'd be your player and you'd give me a tactical speech in that situation, I wouldn't listen. I need to find solutions myself on the field. And it's the coaches task to provide their players with as many possible solutions to as many scenarios as possible.
I value sportsmanship and fair play. I support the #kannustamua campaign from the Finnish Football Association and I am convinced that top level football automatically evolves when there is a sufficiently large basis at the grassroots level. Thus that level needs to get more focus and attention. All players who want, need to get a chance and deserve your support. It's easy to only work with already developed players or natural talents. The challenge is to work with players who still need to learn and improve a lot. Never give up on a player. Quantity is needed to achieve quality.
The legendary German footballer Alfred Preißler once said: "All theory in life is grey - what matters is on the pitch." That's how it is.
I like to work with adults. That's where I come from. It's fun and interesting to work on a team tactical level and you have players who understand what you're talking about. On the other hand, I also find it very fulfilling to work with young kids and teach them how to become a footballer. My personal interest shifted during the last years from mens to womens football. I'm critical of the recent developments in mens professional football internationally. Womens football reminds me more of the football style with which I fell in love with in the first place. Women play good football. And that's what it's all about in the end: good football.