Great People Create Great Sport
By Pete Forster –Sports Development Officer (Coaching) Nottinghamshire County Council
Recently we encountered many brilliant people on a trip to Sweden, Lars Lindford our ‘fixer’ and organiser/ guide was probably top of the pile but more on him later! I looked through my notes before attempting this blog and I’ve got so many great quotes and insight from the people we met. I’ll going to try and give you a feel for some of those people, their work and any recurring themes. I will focus on our meetings within three different areas of sports development.
- The Elite Coach
- Local Club Team
- Sports Development Consultant
The Elite Coach
‘For me it was a fundamental source of personal joy. I was consumed by the process of developing the abilities of others. You do it because you really care for it; you do it because you have to.’
(The Score Will Take Care of Itself, Bill Walsh, 2009)
The above Bill Walsh quote perfectly describes the work of the elite coaches we met during our visit. One of them was Roger Gustafsson who managed IFK Gothenburg to five league championships and took them to the quarter finals of the Champions League in 1995. When we asked what was his proudest moment was in coaching, he replied it was ‘seeing children doing something they never did before.’ When offered the chance to coach some of the larger European club teams in 1995 he chose instead to take a role in charge of the academy which he still heads up today.
Per Johansson had coached the women’s Swedish team to two Olympics and we spoke to him after a local district game. Per stepped down from his role as National Coach in 2012 but he hasn’t stepped away from the sport he has worked at developing a regional team around the area he lives so that they don’t have to travel to Gothenburg (Hour train journey) to play.
Both highlighted the importance of informal learning, a running theme through our trip. Per spoke how he had learnt from other sports and had always encouraged coaches to learn from each other. Roger spoke of the set up at Gothenburg where a new coach is never a head coach at first, they assist a lead coach which in turn creates a mentoring arrangement. They also have coordinators; coaches who cover a few age groups, chat to the other coaches before and after sessions and observe the training. One of my favourite quotes among many from Roger was ‘you can never be the perfect coach’ but again he was determined to give his coaches and the participants the best chance to‘work at their highest level.’
Local Sports Club
We visited a local football club that was run by Stefan Mildaeus. Under his command it had grown into the fifth largest local club in Gothenburg. He was one of seven Uefa A coaches at the club that had 750 active members and 130 coaches. Among the many things we spoke with Stefan about was the support coaches got. The club has a CPD week every year where training is cancelled and coaches can attend courses throughout the week, it’s not compulsory but they are encouraged to attend a minimum of two sessions. Stefan spoke about how the education of coaches attracts members to their club. He spoke about the coaches sharing their expertise so they don’t need to bring other coaches in, again it’s the theme of informal education but as a means of recruiting coaches and also so the coaches can continue to develop together. They also put on a free social just for the coaches at the end of every season as a thank you coach. Stefan has helped develop a club that really care about and care for their coaches and their development.
Sports Development Consultant
Our guide for the trip was Lars Lindford who worked for SISU, Swedish Sports organisation for education. Lars was comfortable dealing with elite coaches, clubs, governing bodies and higher education staff and they had all build up a relationship with him and his organisation. Lars (also a local coach himself) gave us full access to these people and for me it displayed the cohesive nature of how they deliver their development. The people we met were happy (least I think they were!) to talk through the work they did and couldn’t have made us more welcome but they always mentioned (even the elite coaches) how important SISU’s support was.
As a coach development officer could I do something similar if someone came to visit Nottinghamshire? Maybe, but finding a football coach who had coached a team in the champion’s league would be tough!!
It was only fitting that our last learning session was with Lars as he spoke about his work delivering the generic Platform coaching qualification. It sounded a great starting point for coaches, concentrating on how to develop the young participant. He spoke about the course concentrating on the human being value and I think that could be an overview of so much of what we saw on our visit.
I think that’s what was great about the people we met is their emphasis on the human being value of the participants and coaches they are developing. The people we met were always very modest (See Law of Jante)about their work and really value informal learning and everyone’s right to participate. Theymake it an integral part of developing coaches and their participants whether that’s in a community club or elite setting, simple ideals maybe but very effective.
Email: Pete Forster [email protected]