Communication and character development: The Coerver Way

Coerver Coaching's renowned Diploma in Youth Development returned to Singapore for a second time this year, and FFT's Gary Koh went to find out what the fuss was all about...

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Over the past three days last week, coaches in Singapore had a taste of world-class football instruction as Coerver Coaching co-founder Alf Galustian imparted the finer points of teaching the Beautiful Game.

From the local youth club coaches at Friday’s three-hour coaching clinic at Jalan Besar Stadium to those who signed up for the two-day Coerver Coaching Youth Diploma over the weekend at ITE College East, participants gained first-hand knowledge and insight from the man who is regarded as one of the foremost football coaching instructors in the world.

With a reach spanning 38 countries and its renowned programme being actively used as part of the football education curriculum in leading global football federations and clubs, the veteran coaching expert told FourFourTwo how the Coerver method has had a major impact in world football over the last three decades.

“One thing about Coerver Coaching is it is an alternative approach to teaching,” Galustian said.

“It has reached 38 countries and I have worked with clubs like Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Newcastle United. Every time I go to those clubs, they have all the Coerver videos, all the DVDs. It has become a big part of soccer coaching.”

Initially starting out a skills-specific programme when Galustian and Charlie Cooke co-founded Coerver in 1984, it has evolved in the subsequent three decades to become a leading technical and coaching skills programme utilised and endorsed by leading figures in the game.

In the ever-changing world where new trends in all aspects of life, football included, continue to evolve, the football technical expert is affirmative of the need to keep up the latest best practices for Coerver to remain relevant.

“In 30 years, Coerver Coaching has changed so much (from its early days as a skills-based programme). 30 years then and now, it is a total evolution. We talk about team play, small group play, the technical defender and so on,” he explained.

“So many people use old-fashioned ways, I am not saying they are bad ways but the world has changed. Today you have to think out of the box. Kids are different, they respond differently and need different stimulus.”

Thus the challenge is in getting participants of the Coerver to see the greater value in moulding the individual into a more all-rounded human being on and off the pitch.

In Singapore where local parents typically view football and character development as mutual exclusive components, Galustian hopes the Coerver Coaching programme provides a gradual shift in psyche where parents see them as complementary to each other.

“One of the beauties of Coerver Coaching is because it focuses on the individual as a basis of improving the team,” he said.

“Most of the participants are parents and I am a parent. I think of my kid and I want my kid to be better.

“Many football approaches start from the team and then goes to the individual. Coerver starts from the individual and goes to the team. Parents send their kids to our schools and they will see that it is more than football.

“It’s an unusual way of looking at football, but we do focus on individual to make them better so that the team is better. For the parent, my message is Coerver is more than football.”

Seconding the master’s thoughts in this aspect of character building is course participant Muhammad Fadzli. The young budding coach believes if the programme will provide individual and corporate upgrading that will help improve the game in Singapore in the long run.

“Part of our societal flaws is people here look too much into the absolute of everything,” he said.

“If you are able to look beyond that and look at the knowledge a course offers. Coerver provides more than just football coaching. It provides you with an added insight into the values and purposes behind certain aspects of teaching.”

A key legacy Galustian hopes to leave behind with Coerver Coaching in Singapore is how it helps players become better people on and off the pitch and coaches become effective communicators and teachers of life and the game.

“Other football programmes revolve on football, but the Coerver philosophy and content improve the child’s life skills,” he said.

“I have seen it happen to those who went through the programme. They do better in school. They concentrate better in their work and it has nothing to do with what we do on the pitch.

“Communciation skills is another thing. They are also life skills. In football, you can know thousands of drills, but if you have bad communication, you cannot pass on your knowledge and it becomes useless.

“Part of the programme is on improving that aspect. Overall, Coerver Coaching is an inspirational work. The coach who attends our programmes sees a lot of drills and games. What you coach is drills and games, and how you coach is the art of teaching.”