ETS would like to introduce you to Wesley Sergel (previously part of the South African U20 Men’s Team under Head Coach Thabo Senong as their Performance Analyst). Wesley is now Assistant Coach of Stellenbosch Football Club. This week on THE COACHES CORNER, Coach Wesley 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 am the currently in my second season as the Assistant Coach of Stellenbosch Football Club, a professional football team competing in the in the South African National First Division (NFD). Currently competing my UEFA B coaching license , my football background was in Performance Analysis and Sport Science. I was part of the South African U20 Men’s Team under Head Coach Thabo Senong as their Performance Analyst, where we competed in the 2017 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Zambia and the 2017 U20 FIFA World Cup in the Korea Republic, competing against Japan, Italy and Uruguay, a great learning experience. I was given was my first professional coaching opportunity at the end of 2014 when I joined AmaZulu FC in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) under new Head Coach Steve Barker. I had previously worked at the University of Pretoria Football Club in the PSL as their First Team Performance Analyst since 2010, a team that gave me my first break into the professional football at a young age while I was studying a degree in sport science.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR COACHING PHILOSOPHY AND HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
Any successful club/organisation has to first be built on solid foundations/core values. These are refined over time, a solid team culture cannot be built over a single season and like anything in life, we learn and grow through success and failure. Some of my key values to implement would be work ethic, accountability and humility, these would be key during any recruitment process.
I like to implement an aggressive pressing style of play, with a big emphasis on the transition moments. A team that in possession, creates and exploits space and by creating isolation situations for attacking players with superior individual qualities.
A high tempo, attacking front foot approach
Q: IN YOUR OPINION WHAT IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL SKILL FOR A PLAYER/COACH TO MASTER?
Technique is the foundation of any sport. The ability to make the right decision by executing the correct technique under pressure separates players at the highest level. We need to provide our players with creative tactical sessions that allows continuous repetition for learning to take place. At the highest level the ability to manipulate space is a key concept I would look to try implement on my players.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE NEW COACHES STARTING THEIR COACHING JOURNEY?
Education is the key to growth. Attend coaching courses/sport conferences locally and internationally, not only do they offer different ways of thinking which is important, they teach you how to structure your coaching sessions to optimise the players learning potential, while also giving coaching’s the ability to network. Reading has been an important part of my ability to grow and learn, having the ability to take ideas from leading coaches around the world can be invaluable. Nothing beats time on the field coaching, learn from your mistakes and build your philosophy over time. The ability to build relationships and communicate with players in essential in this modern area.
Q: HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE DIFFERENT ABILITIES OF PLAYERS WITHIN YOUR SQUADS?
We need to find creative solutions that allows players to get into effective positions on the field that highlights their strengths. Each individual player will have different abilities, if we can get the majority of our players playing towards their strengths in a structured game model, the overall team becomes more effective. If we take Leicester City EPL winning squad for example, a limited squad when compared to the bigger teams in the league but their game model highlighted multiple players strengths within one system that made them a very effective team.
Q: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH SET BACKS (POOR PERFORMANCES, INJURIES, LOSING, ETC)?
Football is an emotional sport, making loses and poor performances always difficult to get over. It’s important to always try and get back to a balanced mental state after a match and to trust in your processes. Winning often creates complacency while losing can create over reactions. The use of match analysis and certain analytical metrics can be a good indicator on evaluating performance from an objective view, this allows players and staff the ability to constantly make improvements in future matches.
Q: WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT FROM FOOTBALL?
Humility and work ethic are two of the most important human qualities I really admire. Not allowing success to change how you treat people, while never allowing others to out work you are lessons to never let go of. Hard work will always open up future opportunities.
Q: WHICH COACH/MANAGER INSPIRES YOU?
Steve Barker is a coach that’s had a big influence on my coaching career so far, someone that has trusted in my abilities as a young coach and allowed me to continue to grow and progress over the years. There are a few other local coaches I admire and enjoy watching and learning from their styles of play, whether it’s a fast counter attacking team that plays at a higher tempo, a style that’s shows certain principles similar to my personal philosophy or teams that are playing more modern possession based styles. Coaches like Diego Simeone, Marcelo Bielsa, Jurgen Klopp and Jupp Heynckes are coaches that have all had some influence in the creation of my current coaching philosophy due to their own playing styles.