As part of the Hyundai A-League’s Harmony Day celebrations in Round 22, this Sunday 17th March Sydney FC will look to celebrate with long term charity partner Football United, at Leichhardt Oval
Since 2008 the Sky Blues and Football United have joined forces to celebrate diversity and the achievements of the Football United programs, and Sunday will be no different as 100 Football United youth ambassadors march across the pitch in a flag parade, prior to kick off.
“We are thrilled to celebrate and welcome duo-captains of Sydney FC, Alex Brosque and Teresa Polias, as ambassadors to Football United. Alex continues his role, which he began in 2008, and Teresa joins us this year. A final huge piece of news is that after 12 years improving participation and leadership in football through evidence-based programs, Football United is excited to launch a fresh, contemporary, look this year!” said Dr. Anne W. Bunde-Birouste, Founder and CEO, Football United.
Voices from the Football (United) Field
Football United youth leader and coach, Al Hassan Diallo was invited to volunteer coach at a recent Sydney FC Holiday Clinic. This is his story.
In the morning I would set up the field and wait for the players to arrive. That was the first step, and in a way, before I even realized it, it was the first step out of my comfort zone. I’d coached before, in fact for several years I’ve volunteered and worked for Football United and Creating Chances coaching high schoolers and helping develop their skills both on and off the pitch. But this time was a little different. This time, I was under new leadership with the Sydney FC team, had new colleagues, and far fewer familiar faces.
As the eager young players streamed in, I marked off their names before splitting them into teams. This was my first day, and as such I was tasked with being an “all-rounder” coach, assisting any head coach that needed support during the day’s drills and training. It was an opportunity to soak everything in; taking cues from the head coaches, seeing how they organized sessions and specific drills, observing their different coaching styles, how they communicated with the players, how they communicated with other coaches. I tried my best to make the most of it. Soon it would be my turn to take the lead.
In the days following, I was given my own team to coach. I’d spent some time reflecting on what I’d seen from the Sydney FC coaches, much of which reminded me of my all-time coaching role model, Pep Guardiola. To be fair, whenever I think about what kind of coach I want to be, want to be come, I think of Pep. The Spanish former player is the current manager of Manchester City in the Premiere League, who headed Bayern Munich before that, and Barcelona before that. He’s a phenomenal coach and many, including myself, would consider him one of the greatest and most successful managers of all time. Two of the things that I most admire about Pep is his preparation and focus. He’s never preoccupied about what the other team is doing but is always looking to his athletes to help them realize their potential to be the best that they can be, and to hone their skills so that they can get the best of the other team.
When I was given my team to coach during the clinic, that was my goal, to be like Pep, but it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. That was particularly true when dealing with children as young as 4 years old. Again, it was a step out of my comfort zone, but one that was a new learning experience for me. I found ways to use my background and the tools at my disposal to overcome these challenges, like incorporating and adapting Football United and Creating Chances activities and warm-ups throughout the sessions. By the end of the clinic, I had built strong relationships the participants and my colleagues.
One of the most memorable moments was when the kids wanted me to sign their shirts for them after our sessions ended. I felt like Paul Pogba himself! The relationships I built with the kids and the coaches and the new challenges and lessons I’ve learned through this experience are ones that I will never forget. My ultimate dream is to one day coach for Guinea, but for now I’m just trying to get as much experience as possible. Many thanks to Sydney FC for helping me get one step closer to my goal!
For more information on Football United or Creating Chances programs, please visit:
Football United: www.footballunited.org.au
Creating Chances: www.creatingchances.org.au