I’m talking to Paul Grech, Founder of Blueprint for Football
Paul Grech is a writer, parent and blogger. This is not exactly COACHTALK, more great writing talk. Paul’s articles are fascinating, extremely interesting and very helpful to any coach, parent or anyone involved with Youth football. I find a lot of inspirations from his articles; where he discusses ideas, values and philosophies with Coaches from various footballing backgrounds all over the world. If you haven’t subscribed to he’s Newsletter I suggest you do today. This is his Blueprint…
TCD: What is your background in football?
PG: Quite simply, I’m a fan first and foremost. On top of that, I’d like to consider myself a writer. It is not something that I do full time which perhaps affords me the luxury to look at areas which aren’t exactly mass market. For instance, I have written a lot about Italian football for the site In Bed With Maradona, covering teams like Aquila Calcio and Venezia; not exactly front page news but very interesting stories that deserve to be told.
It is the same with youth football. Whenever the English national team has a bad result there is an immediate flow of articles on what needs to be done to ‘solve the issue’. I’m fascinated by such writers and how they think that they hold the solution to such complex issues; I certainly cannot do that. Instead, I like talking to people who are deeply involved in this area and who have ideas that have worked. And I write about these discussion, hoping that by putting out all the different ideas people can start to piece together the different solutions that help them progress.
“You might not agree with everything that they say but only a foolish man would listen to the experiences of others and fail to find something that they can learn from them”
PG: I’ve always been interested in why some clubs manage to bring through a lot of players and others do not. Thinking about it, I first started thinking about this subject in my early teens when I was watching the Viareggio football tournament, which is a very prestigious tournament for U20 sides in Italy. Year after year I would see Atalanta – a provincial side – beat the giants of Italian football and this astonished me. How could it be that this small side could outperform clubs that spent millions on their youth sides?
It was a question that stayed with me through the years until I decided to start looking at it in a more structured manner a couple of years ago which is when I set up Blueprint for Football. The idea for this – the framework around which it will be built – comes from the desire to really understand what drives such a successful development programme.
The definition of success in itself is difficult to pin down: for a club it involves getting players through to the first team, for another it is a question of getting kids off the street. Each one does things differently to get to where they want to be and, for me, each approach is important.
TCD: You focus a lot on Youth, is youth Development something your passionate about?
PG As a father to three young kids, I’m naturally inclined to look at different ways that kids develop. So I, in part, my passion stems from that. But a lot of it is simply down to curiosity around what it takes to help an individual fulfil his or her potential because ultimately that is what youth development is all about. The fact that it is youth development in football is only incidental. I’m increasingly convinced that those coaches and academies who focus on the individual are the ones who ultimately will succeed.
Naturally, you need to handle the football side and you have to ensure that they get the best coaching possible. But if you focus exclusively on that area you will fail.
PG: It has been the most positive thing that I’ve done bar none. The most fascinating thing is that sometimes I ask different individuals the same questions but they provide me with different answers that look at the issue from a different angle. Each reply opens up a whole new dimension to the question. Ultimately, that is why I think that any coach should talk to as many different people as possible. You might not agree with everything that they say but only a foolish man would listen to the experiences of others and fail to find something that they can learn from them.
TCD: You’re launching a new Ebook, what is it and who’s it aimed at?
PG: “Blueprint According To…Volume 1” features six interviews with six different coaches about their footballing ideas and beliefs. Each one covers different areas so each one provides insight into how they tackle different problems.
The book is aimed at anyone who has an interest in the debate about developing players but perhaps it will interest most of all those who are directly involved in coaching. To be clear: there aren’t any coaching drills or tactical notes in the book, simply a discussion of different ideas and experiences which, I believe, will help people get a better idea of how to tackle whatever situation they are facing.
To give you just one example, Rodrigo Baccin talks about futsal and how this can be used to raise the technical ability of players.
TCD: How can people get it?
PG: Up till February 2014 this will be completely free to subscribers to my weekly newsletter called “Blueprint for Football Extra”. Then, as from March 2014, I plan to put it up for sale for a nominal fee mainly to help finance the costs of running the site.
Hopefully, it will be the first in a number of books. I have a few ideas in my head about areas that can be tackled and which I’m sure people would enjoy reading about.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_grech
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