ETS would like to introduce you to JESS IBROM (previous Technical Director for the Cook Islands and Coach Instructor to deliver Oceania and FIFA coaching courses). JESS will be starting a new journey in football very soon and we are very excited for him and wish him all the best. This week on THE COACHES CORNER, Coach Jess shares some insight into his coaching journey so far.
Q: CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF INTRO ABOUT YOURSELF PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE:
I hold the prestigious UEFA A License and USSF A License respectively. I also acted as a Coach Instructor to deliver Oceania and FIFA Coaching Courses. I'm a dedicated and passionate soccer professional with 18 years experience across a variety of roles in the football industry mostly at the elite level. Throughout my career I have demonstrated excellent skills that have been invaluable when working with presidents, directors, CEO’s, coaches, scouts, players and the media. As a result I have achieved many successful outcomes over my coaching career to date.
I have worked in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, New Zealand and now the Cook Islands as Technical Director for the Country. In my previous role of Head of Academy for the Wellington Phoenix I successfully established the clubs first professional academy as well as recruiting the initial intake of players from Asia, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. There was huge growth from 21 players to 34 across an 18-month period as well as over 150 players attending trials throughout this period. Two academy players signed professionally with the first team in 2015.
Previous to this I worked at a residential elite football academy in association with Chelsea Football Club in New Zealand with elite players from around the World aged 11-16. My role saw me travel extensively throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia & the USA identifying elite players and has resulted in me building a substantial network of contacts internationally. I've been fortunate to visit Chelsea FC on numerous occasions and see first hand how the club operates from academy to first team.
My philosophy is built on being professional, an excellent communicator and always seeking continuous improvement in all facets of my work combined with my strong work ethic. I have also visited over 50 professional football clubs in over 15 countries to see their academies working.
Ideally in the future I would like to be working at an elite level within a professional football club as an academy director or as a national team coach be it youth or senior level.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR COACHING PHILOSOPHY AND HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
My coaching philosophy has varied over the years depending upon the level of players I work but also the environment with which I work in. My core beliefs have stayed the same however and although it’s been moulded over the years I have set values I stick too when I’m implementing my philosophy into the teams and individuals I work with.
I’m a firm believer that as a starting point you as a coach must create a disciplined environment to work in with accountability from not just the players but also the staff. Routines and habits have to be created, as this will be replicated when you come to implementing your philosophy with the players you work with. I believe that having individuals and a team that are competitive and hard working is paramount to the success you will have on the field. System wise for me varies depending upon the players you have to work with. I like 1-3-4-3 or 1-4-3-3 as it’s interchangeable and well balanced in both defence and attack. Teaching the players the core concepts to implement this system takes time for the players to adapt to.
Q: IN YOUR OPINION WHAT IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL SKILL FOR A PLAYER/COACH TO MASTER?
For a player for me it’s being able to bounce back after a bad experience. This could be injury, non-selection or poor form. It’s key that like as a coach players go through adversity at different points in their career so they are able to adapt to situations in the future more readily.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE NEW COACHES STARTING THEIR COACHING JOURNEY?
The key is to accumulate as many coaching hours and different coaching experiences as possible. I coached in America from 2000 – 2005 and this was one of the most valuable experiences for me. I was just starting out as a coach and it enabled me to gain experience, knowledge and confidence. I worked all over the eastern side of the US working from summer camps to college and the elite level. I cannot recommend this enough to coaches just starting out on their coaching journey. But being honest look for the local junior coach and just offer your services voluntarily from there. Get as much practical coaching experience as possible from U6’s to the senior level you really have to throw yourself into it.
Q: HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE DIFFERENT ABILITIES OF PLAYERS WITHIN YOUR SQUADS?
It’s not easy but I feel with experience it does become easier to manage. I have worked with different elite level groups and sometimes players would drop into the group that was perhaps off the level of the other players. It’s a slow process that means you have to make sure that when it comes to the planning of the session you cater for this as a coach. Even down to the detail of individual match ups in training games and elements within training that require players paired with the same physical maturation of players that are more physical and athletic. It can become challenging but also a great experience for coaches to go through in terms of the planning and post session evaluation process.
Q: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SET BACKS (POOR PERFORMANCES, INJURIES, LOSING, ETC)?
It’s part and parcel of the game and with more experience you gain as a coach the management of this just becomes easier. It gets to a point that once you have been through the process a few times you can almost anticipate it. It’s all part of the game and the higher up you go to an elite level then it’s all down to the details around the game and how you handle it. As making a decision at that level becomes critical to the result potentially.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM FOOTBALL?
There’s been a few! But I would say the most telling lesson I learned was way back when I was on my UEFA A License in England. I delivered a practical coaching session and I thought I delivered the session ok. Once I was off the field and reviewing the session with one of the tutors my expectation of the feedback I would receive was very different. I was told in no uncertain terms by the tutor that the level I was expected to deliver at was way off. He crushed me in an instant and as I felt I had gained allot of experience from the previous 10 years it was a sobering experience and one that has stayed with me till today. But being honest it was the best experience I could go through at the time and I quickly toughened up even more so. It gave me the strength and drive to not only prove him wrong but also myself that I was a capable coach. I was successful in gaining my UEFA A License and I have since gained my USSF A License in America. I have no doubt that experience set me up for the future and the adversity I would go through in the future.
Q: WHICH COACH/MANAGER INSPIRES YOU?
There’s a few past and present. Sir Alex Ferguson is one for me as he shaped Manchester United to what they are today. I was fortunate I actually received a letter from Sir Alex when I moved to New Zealand in 2011 to wish me luck!. I would say from today for me it is Mourinho. Warranted he has a budget but so has Pep. He has managed to win Trophies in four different countries, which is unbelievable. Then I follow the likes of Eddie Howe and Shaun Dyche from the Premier League and the success they continue to have that goes unnoticed. All outstanding coaches and managers in their own rights.