Interview with Remco ten Hoopen – NEC Nijmegen Coach

During the CBC Dutch Tour International Soccer Program recent spring trip to Holland (3-16 to 3-27, 2011), we paid a return visit to the professional club NEC Nijmegen, of the Dutch Eredivisie. We have met a wonderful man there named Remco ten Hoopen. This year we observed his training sessions and had a couple of very insightful talks with him. Remco has been a professional coach at NEC for the last 11 years, and he was a member of the Dutch U17 National team as a player before an injury sent him into coaching. At NEC, Remco’s duties have included: goalkeeper trainer, Youth Technical Coordinator and Youth Coach (U10).

Rob Staggenborg, a journalist who was part of our group, posed the following questions to Remco by email after we returned to the States and Remco answered in great detail.

I was the journalist who was traveling with the American group of players and coaches that trained with you at NEC Nijmegen the week of 20 March. Needless to say, we were very impressed with a few if the
things you spoke about. As I am writing a written article for American audiences, I would like to pose a few questions to you.

1. After the u8s(U10) played the game in which they scored their 100th goal, you spoke to us about one of the players – a black player (#8) – who you brought into the program despite reservations of some of the other coaches. You said with this player “only 100 percent positive with this player.” … Tell us, how difficult was it to break that player of early bad habits that limited him as a player and teammate?

I will try to answer all off your questions you asked me, and I keep doing that as long     as you need it. It’s no problem for me to answer questions and put time in it, because it’s     always for the kids. Development, fun and competition, that’s what sport is all about and if I can share my knowledge with people like you and also people who are reading your articles, it will be win, win and in the future I can learn from people how they react on articles, maybe     meet those people sometime, so we share our knowledge to be a better person, coach and trainer.

I hope you understand my English typing, so you can make a good story of it!!!

The first question I answer is about Vinay Saltani. It’s not an under 8 player but a under 10, born in 2001.

We draft (scout) him from an amateur club just 1,5 mile from NEC. HE was playing in the highest U9 league in the region. We scouted him in August 2009. On that moment we invited     him to train with other talented players his age, what we do on Sundays.

The first session I saw him do things in the game what was very unusual for u9 kids. Especially when he didn’t have the ball!!! A lot of coaches and scouts are only watching players with the ball!  I believe in that but more important what can he do WITHOUT… Is the player a natural runner?

Does he have the guts to call for the ball? How fast is he (footskills). In the first session i was already impressed, but he didn’t play well with the ball! Our scouting didn’t believe in him and during the sessions it got worse and worse. Still I believed in this kid, try to explain his talent. On the last moment     they had enough about my complaining and moaning, that they give me what I want, this kid in the NEC program. He started in August 2010 in our program, his first 14 sessions and games were horrible, but I was keeping faith in him, looked through the mistakes he made, and kept pushing him to the thing I know he is good in.

Meanwhile (question 2 combined) I talked to his father. Asked him what happens with Viany the last year, what happens at home, what did they do at the amateur club etc etc. I talked with him and I made the appointment that we had a small contact after every session that he was watching his kid. I told him what I thought Vinay did good that session, and the only thing dad had to tell Vinay was the good things i just told him after sessions!

Meanwhile I told Vinay the same things in an eye to eye contact after the session or game. During the weeks you saw him grow.  Every session he got better and better, until the moment you saw him play that game! It was all about talking positive, build up his confidence, build up his trust by teammates. Basically I was putting a lot of energy and time in this player. Talked with him , his dad, his teammates. Looked at his mental qualities, try to find a player that combined him, and find a player who was totally his opposite. I let him do drills and sessions with those 2 players to give him a good feeling with the player who was close by him (feels safe) but also give him a boost – to train also out of his comfort zone with this

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About the Author Michael Saif