ACS Doha celebrates as the ACS U19 Football Team wins QF League!
ACS Doha is celebrating the school’s historic victory earlier this month in the Qatar Foundation (QF) League U19 final. This an outstanding achievement considering this was the school’s first senior football squad, who played their first season, eventually winning to become the best school football team in Doha. The team are currently being coached by Chris Quinn and are busy preparing for their first overseas football tournament in Dubai in February 2016.
Q1. So Chris, how does it feel to have won the league?
I am thrilled for the team. It is a huge achievement, but as a more experienced coach once said to me, “You are only as good as your last game”. This is critical to remember as the team still has an additional league programme to complete as well as another cup, and we are doing well in both of these competitions. In saying that, winning the QF League U19 Title against some of the country’s best schools is quite a gratifying marker for everyone that was involved.
Q2. What has brought about the success so far?
A number of factors are to be taken into consideration; firstly, and the most important, a group of young men who have a deep love of football. We are extremely lucky that we have a fantastic mixture of talent, great physical attributes, quick learners and strong characters. Of course, not all of the boys encompass all of these things, and they know this, and recognise that they are surrounded by others who have different attributes to themselves. This greater understanding undoubtedly increases their reliance on one another and therefore their collective synergy.
Another contributing factor is that we have asked the boys to commit to a deliberate playing style. They are encouraged to take ‘risks possession’, they are confident knowing that they have ‘coaching approval’ to do this, and nobody is going to criticise them if mistakes are made. We strongly encourage expression, creativity and playing in the moment. Also, we continually ask each and every one of them to “raise their heads in possession, scan, travel, move, open their body, make positive ground and take a risk”.
And when the ball is not in our possession, the players try to ferociously stop the opposition doing all of these very things: “close fast, press, suffocate, be close, frustrate and make yourself competitive to play against”. The team understand that by doing all of these things they may not get the ball back straight away, however, they have helped to make it easier for their fellow teammate to get the ball on the next tackle. As we (the coaches) stand to the side, we are watching the opposition offload the ball under pressure because we are forcing errors into their game. This then allows our team to get right back into the game. We have found that this is a high energy and physically demanding playing style, yet all the boys are up for it and remain committed to this playing style.
Q3. Where does this style come from?
At ACS Doha we are very lucky to be in the advantageous position of having Coerver Coaching as our partner. Through this partnership, we have become an established part of an increasingly global network that currently spans across 42 different countries worldwide. Coerver Coaching started a technical skills programme 32 years ago, which has hugely evolved since then and nowadays is a very well understood ‘player blueprint’, ‘psychological mind-set’ and most importantly for this group, a ‘team style’. In more recently years, Coerver Coaching have enlisted experts who are globally recognised in diverse fields such as Physiology and Neuroscience, and who have backed up this ‘style’ and approach. On a personal level, I am very lucky to have worked with these people and to have benefited from their knowledge and this now appears to be playing a part with our youngsters.
Q4. What lies ahead?
I think that what lies ahead for the team is continuous improvement. All of the boys on the team are still learning the game, and I hope that they will still be learning the game for many years to come. We will be travelling to Dubai in February for an international tournament where the team are going to be tested against established and experienced teams. Regardless of the result, this will be a unique experience for the boys and a quality learning phase for them. For my part, it is simply a privilege to be playing an active role and to be supporting and encouraging the development of a very fine group of young men, and who all have very bright futures ahead of them.