When any football fan hears the phrase The Special One, there is only one person that comes to their mind. The news of Jose Mourinho returning to action with Manchester United has undoubtedly been the talk of the weekend. One of the most hated/loved coaches in the game managing one of the most hated/loved clubs in the game? Expect firework.
For me, though, I have my own definition of The Special One. Or Ones, rather. They are players who I have coached throughout my career and have developed a tight bond with on and off the field. They are the ones that really push me to go above and beyond at my job, not only delivering the best training session I possibly can but also providing the mental and emotional support that is so vital for a young player's development at such tender ages.
The bond between a player and a coach is incredible. Back in my first coaching job I was working with a young Polish player who happened to go to the same school as I was (K-12 international school). Within our first two weeks he was already coming up to me to chat away about football, his favourite player (Robert Lewandowski) and FIFA. From then on he would always give me a hug before and after each training session, and his affection grew on me. After leaving the club I would often visit him when I had the chance, just to hear all about how many goals he scored in the weekend match and what he did in training.
And it's not just the players that you get to know more and bond with. You also get to interact with their parents too, and some turn out to be very interesting people to talk to. During my time at AIS and SSA I coached three brothers from Switzerland and got to know their mother who I have to say is one of if not the best soccer moms out there and I say this with every positive intention! She would spend so much effort in getting every kid to soccer training, signing them up for tournaments and camps, making sure they're well fed and energized, and her boys are the sort of kids every coach would love to work with: well-behaved, passionate, hardworking and constantly improving. Upon my return to Vietnam I had the chance to catch up with them over a few cups of ice creams, one of those moments that make the hard work and low pay associated with this job worth it.
As long as I am capable to coach at a high standard, I will make every effort to get to know my players on a personal level so that they know they can feel comfortable around me and trust that I have their best interest in mind.
Here's to having more special ones!
About the Author
Bao "Terry" Cao is currently a coach at Manchester United Foundation and the FA Development Centre for girls. Terry is licensed by both the FA and USSF. He shares his personal experience of being involved in youth soccer as both a coach and an outside viewer.