Advice for aspiring soccer coaches

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“TO be a soccer coach you have to learn a lot about soccer,” said former NMI national coach Koo Luam Khen during episode 7 of “Footcast with Norman Del Rosario.” Koo Luam Khen and fellow coaches Taketomo Suzuki and Angie Ito shared their experiences and offered advice to aspiring soccer coaches in the NMI.

Koo Luam Khen said he found his love of soccer during his youth, but his passion only grew when he decided to coach as well. He went to England and Germany just to learn more about soccer. “You don't necessarily have to be a great player, but you must have knowledge of the game. You are dealing with players, so you have to impress them with how much you know about soccer,” he said.

Suzuki agreed.  “A coach has to learn a lot.” As a young soccer player, he set foot in England where he played at the collegiate and semi-professional levels. Suzuki believes that to be a coach, you have to learn from your mistakes. “That’s the only way to be a good football coach. It's easier to be a player than to be a coach,” he added. 

Angie Ito, for her part, is an aspiring coach herself as she continues to work on her coaching license. “You must have heart, passion and patience,” she said. “A girls' coach must be understanding. When you are coaching, take it all in. Take the criticism, it is good for you. Failure is your best friend.”


 Coach Taketomo Suzuki, fifth left,  poses with the NMI U12 National Team members after winning the  Marianas Cup in 2013. Contributed Photo

Aside from acquiring knowledge, decision-making is one of the bigger responsibilities of a coach. During the historic victory of NMI U12 National Team against Guam in the 2013 Marianas Cup, Coach Suzuki decided to place Sunjoon Tenorio, a striker, at center back. “I don't normally do that,” Suzuki said. “But I knew they were nervous and thought that we needed someone who could lead the team — someone who could be at the back to talk and motivate.” Suzuki’s decision strengthened the NMI defense en route to a 4-0 trouncing of Guam.

Motivation is another key to victory and a coach plays a huge part in motivating his or her players. Finding a person who could step up during crunch time could boost team morale, but a coach's word in the locker room could also make a big difference. During the NMI women's first international victory over Macau, Coach Luam used the halftime break to keep the girls fired up. “I had to let them go out there with a good attitude, a positive state of mind. We had been working on it since we started training,” Luam said. The NMI women blanked Macau 7-0.

The three coaches said through the ongoing efforts of the NMI Football Association and its president, Jerry Tan, NMI soccer will only get bigger.

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