#BEHINDTHEGAME: IN CONVERSATION WITH GRASSROOTS COACH JOHNSON FERNANDES
We go behind the dugout to find out more about the people working off the pitch and their influence on the beautiful game of football.
Over the last two years, Johnson Fernandes has been working actively with the kids at the Forca Goa grassroots program. At the recently concluded Junior Gaurs League, he was in charge of Our Lady of Poor and Fatima School and worked extremely well with the talent he had at his disposal. We chat with him about coaching and all things football.
What are the qualities one needs to have to become a youth coach?
Coaching kids is completely different from coaching professionals. You have to be constantly aware that they are young and need motivation and care. You have to be patient when they make mistakes and make sure you’re always positive with what you tell them.
What are the key skills you try to teach your kids?
At this age, I just try to get them to enjoy the game. I teach them basic positional tactics and give them a lot of training to improve the technical side of the game. Kids should have fun with the ball and that’s the crux of it.
How has your experience been with FC Goa’s grassroots program?
It’s been a great journey so far. I’ve managed to learn a lot in these two years. FC Goa wants their coaches to keep improving so there are lots of workshops and trainings where we can interact and learn from experienced coaches. There’s a lot of focus maintained on youth development so we have to constantly push ourselves to be better.
If you had the opportunity to coach a team of your choosing, which team would it be?
I’m a big fan of FC Barcelona and love their playing style and philosophy. If given a chance, I’d love to coach the likes of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez. Back home, Salgaoncar FC is the club I passionately follow and would like to coach them some day.
What are the challenges you face coaching kids?
Sometimes it’s difficult to motivate the kids as they would rather do something else. To get them to constantly focus is quite a task. Also we have to constantly improvise with our drills so that it’s fun for them and not monotonous. However, those are also the things that keep us nimble and activities interesting.