Youth development – Interview

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , ,

Today, I’m posting an interview with Mr. Sandi Sejdinovski, head coach of the U17 soccer team at Al Hilal club, in Saudia Arabia. Coach Sejdinovski has an UEFA ”A” coaching licence and a lot of experience working with youth categories. He will present us his vision of youth development with middle-east players in a high-level club with great resources, allowing good organization of the work.

1. Mr. Sejdinovski, you work with 16-17 years old players at Al Hilal club in Saudia Arabia. Working with this age category, what are your priorities during the training process? On which qualities do you wish your players would improve throughout the season?

The base of all work is building up a plan and following the plan for a particular age category. My first priority when I work with youth categories is always to prepare players by plan step-by-step technically, tactically, physically and mentally for the demands of  today’s soccer and in the same time, to prepare them to play in the older category next season. I put a special focus on team work and position specialization.

Beside individual skills and individual tactics, I would like to see my team improve in ball posession and especially in finishing through the season.

2. Do you prepare your players for their entry into the professional world? Is the preparation for games similar to what they will experience when they become professionals?

In the club, they are trying to make the organization and the work of the U-17 team similar to professional teams. The gap between youth soccer and the first professional team is often very big. At Al Hilal, we are trying to make this transition easier. The coaching staff of the U17 team is made of: myself as head coach, three assistant coaches, one goalkeeper coach, two team managers, one doctor, one physioterapist and two equipement managers. Usually, we have 5-7 activities (training sessions, matches) per week with one day off per week for players. The progam is very similar to what we see with the first team.

Our preparation for the games is very similar to match preparation of professional team. Before every championship  or cup match,  the team is going  in »quarantine« in one of the hotels in the city where we are playing (same for home games), where we oversleep, have team meetings, do some match analyzing and some theoretical match preparation.  In »quarantine« everything is strictly planned (rest, nutrition, vitamins, etc). When we are playing with teams outside Riyadh, we usually fly by aeroplane to the city where we play and before the flight we usually have a training session at our field. After training fast showering, small snack and organized transport to the airport. nm

Of course, this is all possible thanks to the generosity of the Prince Bandar Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Kabeer, who allows us to give the young players a chance to succeed at the highest level.

3. What are the overall characteristics of the players in this part of the world regarding technical skills, tactical understanding, fitness condition and mental aptitudes?

In this area of the world, players are extremely talented for soccer; if you observe them in training, maybe their technical skills are not perfect (technical details), because of the late start at soccer training (most of the players start to train in organized clubs after they are 12 – 13 years old, some of them even later), but their functional skills  in game are amazing (probably because they played a lot of “street” soccer before joining organized work), their improvisation, ideas and game solutions in game are fantastic.

Tactically I have to say, at this stage they are on beginners level, the reason beside late start of training is that, for most of them, the U-17 category is actually the beginning of competitive soccer (in Saudi Arabia there is no organized competition – league for U-14 categories and younger, just rarely some tournament) and players have almost no experience in matches, but they learn extremely fast on training and matches. There is a very big space for improvement in tactical work (individual, group and team) and tactical understanding.

In fitness condition is already in base always space for improvement. Players in this region don’t like athletic type of fitness training and are doing such practice  with a “handbrake ‘’, but when you are doing specific fitness training using any kind of competition games, they go in “full power”. In general, players in this category of age here are smaller and thinner than European players at the same age (late physical development), otherwise players are in very good shape and physically well-prepared, but as I said there is still space for improvement, specially in strength (using fitness studio), power and speed training. In fitness work we put a lot of attention also in basics of running, coordination, mobility and agility work, again because of the late start of training and puberty reasons.

Mentally,  boys of this age are the same all around the world. They love soccer and they are very interested to train and play the game, especially if you make training sessions interesting for them and they love to learn new things. They are very competitive, even in training. “Taksima” (game) is everything for them. Training without “taksima” is no training for them.

4. Can you present us what you did on the last training session (general lines)?

In the last training session, we worked on dynamic skills (different passing situations with 2 and 1,  ball in group of 4 players in square formation) as warm up and static / dynamic stretching between passing exercises. After dynamic skills and stretching,  we had some coordination / agility drills in two groups of 10 players. In the main part of training, we had ball possession exercises with jokers in limited space, in two groups and small-sided games 5v5 + goalkeepers on two goals on different size of fields. In final part we had a training match 10v10 + goalkeepers on two goals on ¾ of the field with different demands between the game. We finished with a light recovery run and stretching. In the first part of the training, goalkeepers had a special training with the goalkeepers coach.

  1. Bajric says:

    I want your team to partner with yinkol football academy. With this academy, you will get u-15 to u-17 players.

  2. Alex dalcin says:

    This is a process of modern football and Sandi is showing how is possible work with the base without broke the fase of ages…

    Congratulation for coach sandi

  3. Adi says:

    sandi is always the best …. I love that coach …

  4. Thomas Asante says:

    Congratulation coach keep it up and bring mor talents out.

  5. Coachdean Salleh says:

    congratulations from Brunei my friend…hope to meet u again in the future train my kids here…..Good Luck…

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