Pedro Dias is a former Portuguese professional Soccer player that currently acts as a coach. He worked in several clubs in Portugal, Canada and now in New Zealand! In this interview he shares some of his experience about youth coaching in different contexts!
SH: Tell us a bit about your history in the “soccer world”!
PD: I grew up in Bobadela, in Lisbon, and like any kid of my generation, playing football on the street, was our favorite pastime and I dreamed of being a professional soccer player – it was a natural progression. I passed by Petrogal, Sacavenense and when I arrived at Sporting CP, it was as if a new world opened up for me.
I had the privilege of being trained by references and having as colleagues, for example, Luis Figo or Emilio Peixe, was a dream come true. With the signing of my professional contract, I began my professional player history that would lead me to learn, to know, to share and to evolve both as a man and as a football professional. I was, for 13 years, a football professional at a modest level but I learned a lot and it was very rewarding at all levels.
Once I have finished my career as a player, I’ve start a new process (that is still in progress), where my sports education was fundamental to success.
As a coach, I´ve worked in clubs such as Clube Desportivo Nacional, Benfica Generation in Toronto, Beira Mar FC in Toronto, with a cross-over, also by CS Maritimo, as a Training Coordinator. Finally I’ve spent 7 years as the Technical Director of Sporting FC in Toronto, the first Sporting Academy outside of Portugal. Now I decided to go out for this new adventure in New Zealand, Waterside Karori AFC / Swifts Talent Center, for the continuing need to be challenged and have new professional and family opportunities. I’m very motivated to do a great job here too!
SH: How is the reality of soccer in New Zealand?
PD: The reality here it’s very similar to the reality when I arrived in Canada a few years ago. Still trying to solidify a sports project and create the necessary mechanisms of improvement, ranging from the education of Coaches, to leveling of the competitions and the training of referees. I think that even though we are on the right track, there is still a lot to do and a lot of room to grow, which is very positive and motivating.
SH: What are the main challenges of the youth coaches at this moment?
PD: I would say that managing expectations with the players but especially with the Parents, acquires extreme importance. And of course, establishing a correct approach to the environment, age, level, program where we are inserted. Then, when all of these factors are already adjusted, we as coaches, must be a behavioral model and also professionals that can educate for life through the teaching of the game. Then we must be tolerant, patient, assertive, and have notion that what we are doing is absolutely non-negotiable.
SH: Which models best serve as reference for day-to-day use?
PD: They are the models that marked us in our education as men! After that, they are shaped through our experiences and our own sensitivity to know how to be and act accordingly. I would say that there are no watertight models, but rather references that we stay with and then adjust them to our reality and context.
SH: What is the main difficulty that you feel every day as a football coach?
PD: The difficulties will have to be made as challenging elements to our ability to overcome! At the end of the day, we are coaches, and manly at the youth level, we should have an extraordinary adaptability and flexibility to all situations!
SH: How would it be possible to improve the football system / model in New Zealand?
PD: The bases are already in place, with the New Zealand Federation Development Plan, I would say that it will be necessary to be consistent and create conditions for all sports agents to follow and improve all skills. Long way still, but with perseverance, and lots of passion and competence, New Zealand will improve.
SH: How can solutions such as Soccer Hub could help in the development process of coaches and soccer players?
PD: I’m sure that solutions like Soccer Hub will help in the education and credibility of the soccer coaches. We are always looking for improving more thru education. All the information and content that we get is reflected in what we do and leads us to be more competent and better prepared.