With the signing of two new coaches, Miloš Djorjevic and Rodrigo Costa, Lion City Sailors Football Academy aims to further solidify the union of Singapore and European academy insights for a better structured developmental system. The coaches reveal how well they are adapting in Singapore after their welcome here in LCS Academy as well as their unfeigned insights on the differences in football culture along with the challenges faced in the course of the global pandemic. 

Cultural Etiquette in Singapore 

With the past months considered as their initial periods here at LCS Football Academy, Miloš and Rodrigo claims that they are adapting adequately well. “Respectful” and “honest” are the words used to describe colleagues and players of the academy. The coaches could agree that Singaporeans are generally polite and welcoming which helps them settle into their new surroundings without difficulty. Miloš and Rodrigo are more than pleased to be able to extend their experiences and share their knowledge in football –with the LCS Football academy into the bargain. 

Technical Education 

In football methodology, Miloš believes that technical skill is one of the biggest factors in creating a concrete foundation for players. It is crucial that training sessions for U8 – U12 should be mainly focused on their techniques like ball mastering, dribbling, control and other technical-functional elements. As much as it is never too late to learn, players under 12 years old should cultivate good habits as they are in their foundational years. In relation to which he feels that the current under 15 players are lacking in. 
Inclusive of this, the years between 13 and 15 can then be focused on positional tactics of a player. If they have established a solid technical foundation, the transition to focus more on positional tactics would be smoother and less complicated. Adding to that, between the ages of 13 and 15, is the period where corrections should be done in technical areas which players lack in. With that, this period would allow their technical strengths to also be highlighted where coaches would help polish. 

It is always easier to create new habits rather than change the old ones. As technical coaches, Miloš and Rodrigo’s priority is to work with the coaches in LCS Football Academy in hopes to overturn old habits created which can be costly to players in the long run. 

“I have injected this philosophy in the foundation age groups of my previous academy in Serbia, Redstar Belgrade, and as a result, players were able to even challenge older boys due to technical levels and speed of its execution. The whole process would take time to flourish but once it is fully implemented and in place here at LCS Football Academy, we will be able to produce exceptional technical players.” 

Mind over matter

Successful football stories are not simply fabricated but are based on strong stilts instilled in an individual. A player’s mindset and their drive for passion is what sets top class players away from average. Miloš and Rodrigo could not agree more with this, emphasizing that the journey of progressive football includes a strong mindset and mentality during training sessions or matches. 

With his entrance in the LCS Football academy, Rodrigo intends to lift the attitude of players when facing oppositions on the pitch. He believes that a player’s passion in football should be reflected by their attitude on the field. Back in Portugal, where he professionally coached for 6 years, complacency is rarely seen in players and has in his view, to place the same motivation and drive towards players here. 

Other than the technical aspects of a player’s progress, Rodrigo plans to accomplish healthy competition amongst players in the academy. He feels that this would help them drive each other to push harder in their drills and to be a source of motivation for one another during training sessions. In return, he believes that a healthy competitive mindset will build skills that will carry over to game day - as long as it's all in good fun. 

Miloš believes that the players in LCS Football Academy have a prodigious opportunity which most might not receive and therefore, these players should use the resources placed on their feet to extensively focus on their progression in football which will eventually guide them in achieving a professional football career. Furthermore, the players should not feel too comfortable knowing that their places are sealed in the academy and should “learn how to be real fighters”. This mentality, he believes, should not just be applied in football but imparted in life. 

As compared to a vying football culture to the one in Europe, coach Djole feels that LCS Academy players are blessed with a blooming opportunity that would help them path the way to a professional football career. Rodrigo adds that the opportunity given to the boys in the academy might not be the same elsewhere and thus should be looked upon as a privilege to be gripped on. 

When it comes to working together and sharing of experiences and ideas here at LCS Football Academy, Miloš feels the coaches have a mutual strive and ambition for the players. For good measure, the working environment created in the academy is of unity as everyone aims to learn from each other. 

“The fact that we come from Europe where it is perceived to have the best football, comes the idea that coaches in Europe know everything. That is something we are still getting used to as there will always be something new to learn about. Besides, coaching is all about sharing and learning from everyone and I feel that the coaches here are open to that without trying to rival off each other which makes it a more solid environment to work in.” 

 Miloš expresses his content and honor in being able to work in LCS Football Academy and is thrilled for the new facility to be built so that the academy can continue to reach further heights in Singapore football. In comparison to his previous coaching experiences, Rodrigo stated that the coaches are always sincere with the help that they provide and are inclined to an environment where sharing benefits all. 

Challenges in coaching during a global pandemic 

When asked about the inconvenience faced in football in the midst of the global pandemic, Rodrigo mentions 

“We miss having competitions and I’m sure the players miss being able to play 11-a-side games. Football is a team sport and not being able to have the normal matches makes it very different.”

Rodrigo settles with the knowledge of the “new norm” hoping that situations will improve in the near future. It is a challenge to the coaches as they have to be more wary of the standard operational rules when it comes to training as they are not able to include all players in a team during sessions but instead, to be divided so as to ensure social distancing measures. However, looking at the positives, Miloš states that this would allow the players to have slightly more focus on their individual tactical and technical aspects of training. 

Hope in the players of LCS Football Academy

Winning is not everything. However, wanting to win is. A strong mentality is still needed to allow progression in the development of a football player. Miloš adds that he aims to infuse a “winning mentality” in the players mindset as this will help with the overall motivation. Passion is what builds the foundation of quality players and he has faith that if players are able to tweak their mindset as such, it would churn out only positive results. On the other hand, Rodrigo justifies that confidence is key and this will allow individuals to understand where they stand and how to further improve themselves.

Overall, Miloš and Rodrigo can both agree that it is important that players enjoy themselves during training and games on top of their unwavering passion for football. Understanding the importance of trust and its relation between coaches and players, they mention that when trust and respect is created, the players will be more willing to handle critic and take that as a steppingstone to do better each time for their own benefit. Furthermore, values like these that are taught on the field can be maintained as habits for life.

The coaches feel that the players here in LCS Football Academy have a bright future ahead considering that the years they hold ahead of them will only continue to allow growth and eventually attain a professional football career.