Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Enjoyment, People, Players and Personality should not be sacrificed in the implementation of an Elite Players Performance Plan

I have left QPR by resignation last month. I have written in depth reasons and I want to talk to the premier league about these. Football needed change and a lot of what I have seen in the pro game has been great. However, I have deep concerns for players and the future of our game and as a result I could not rest easy by taking part in the ‘processes’.
In the meantime I wanted to just talk about some positive aspects. Working at QPR has been a fantastic experience and I have learnt so much. Most of all I have met some great people who have QPR in there soul and it’s great to experience. Some individuals at that club have an infectious love for their club and it’s difficult not to adopt the attachment.  From the kit lady to the senior coaches there are some truly incredible people who I'm very privileged to have known.
However what I seen happen under EPPP has left me so disturbed that, although you can never say never the way I feel now is I will never work in professional youth football again. Challenging some of the EPPP process will alienate myself from professional youth football because most just agree in fear of their progression, but I am comfortable with that anyway. Enjoyment People Players and Personality should not be sacrificed in the implementation of an Elite Players Performance Plan.
On leaving QPR I was completely overwhelmed by some of the messages I got. Of course elite player coaching is not a popularity contest and also we cannot please everybody because some players will simply not make the grade. Does that mean they can’t be given your every effort to develop them and put smiles on their faces?

After my resignation I have received many comments using different media. Some of which I share here which does give me hope that good will prevail... 

QPR U14 Players/parents
Hi its ****, thanks for everything, you made me a better player and good luck for the future.
Hi Tony, Just wanted to say thanks for being such a good coach for the time you were with us. As a team and as individuals we have never played so well. I will remember all the advice you gave and wanted to say good luck and thank you.
Thanks Tony, we just wanted to say so sorry to hear you gone. ***** is so gutted. Thanks again, you will be a great loss to youth football.
Hi Tony, gutted to hear u have left QPR mate! **** wanted me to text u to say thanks for everything & he’s really enjoyed his football! Wish u all the best.
Hi Tony, thanks for all the support you gave during these couple of months, hope to see you in the future and I will not forget you.
Hi Tony, we were told tonight about you leaving the club and I’d like to say thank you for everything you’ve done for our team this season and especially me. Our team’s confidence was low coming into this season, you gave us a great mentality and upped my confidence to a level so I really believed in myself. You improved me as a player and improved the team, thanks a lot for that.
Hi Tony, I hope all is good. I would just like to say thank you for being a great inspiration and teacher for me, I have learnt a lot from you in these few months and feel I have developed as a player. Thank you a lot and hope to see you soon. Thank you Tony, I will try and make you proud.
Hi Tony, I’ve heard you've decided to move on from the club and I wish you have a great future in what you r next step in your life will be and good luck with that. Thank you for coaching me this year and for all you have done. By you doing this you've made me a much better player.

Senior Pro Coach

We're all going to miss you at our football club.

I'm sorry that you’re leaving for a number of reasons but mainly because of your enthusiasm and brightness around the place.

Good luck to you at your next club, you will be a loss to the game if you are not back at pro level soon.

Full-time Pro Youth Coach
Tony, I’d say you’ve made by far the biggest influence on my coaching out of anyone I’ve worked with. But more the way to act around players and how to speak to people like the kit lady, security guards etc. first... then the coaching second which I leaned loads from. 

Junior Coach QPR

Heard yesterday you had left the club, it’s a big loss for the club to lose one of the best academy coaches but obviously you had your reasons.
Always been told to try and watch you coach since I came to club just over 3 years ago as you were one of the best to learn from. Was good to hear your thoughts and opinions on the youth module courses and I took a lot from the shorts conversations.

Good luck with everything


My message to players
Whatever level you play at try to enjoy football. Remember, whatever happens you will make mistakes. I strongly recommend you younger players don’t take the reports to seriously, or at least when they remind you of the odd mistakes you make. I watched a game between Liverpool and Arsenal and within 6 minutes all 4 key players from both sides had made a mistake of some kind. You’re at an elite environment because somebody thinks you’re great. But in development you won’t always get things right. Just try to win (nothing wrong with that), try to play, try new things and try your best. Keep believing and keep smiling!

My message to coaches
This is not meant to be a scathing attack on all coaches in pro football. I have met some delightful people and great coaches. But I’m just saying what I see from the various clubs where I have been.
Just remember when you coach why you are there. You’re not there for you, your there for the players. It’s not about you looking good, it’s about the players looking good in the end.
I urge you greatly to think about the words you use and especially when you write them down on a computer system. Doubt is one of the biggest psychological barriers and the more you highlight mistakes and create negativity the player increases doubt. Wouldn't it be great if you could only tell players what they did well, but fix what they do wrong, without them even knowing? Think about that, think about what that would achieve. Challenge yourself to try it.
Don’t ever forget these are young vulnerable people desperately trying to please you. You’re not managing the 1st team, pat them on the back as often as you can!
We can agree or not about coaching philosophies and I agree with most about the technical improvements we need. However, don’t forget. A football team is made up of 11 ranging players including a goalkeeper. Every successful team in my living memory has had an excellent balance of players with ranging attacking and defensive capabilities. Just remember that when your desperately trying to make every player Lionel Messi.
Finally, I think it’s great that many people see opportunities in football but just be careful about how you climb the ladder. Never forget your roots and values. Someone in your family was like the kit lady washing that kit, cleaning the floors or making the tea. You never won a world cup so you’re not a super hero, so drop the ego. Talk to people around you, say hello, show respect, be humble and you’ll be amazed what you learn from people for free giving you knowledge and integrity. That’s the true foundation of a solid future.
I have been at all levels of the scale in sport and business and the biggest thing that always stuck with me that rung true was…

“Remember the names of all the people you trample over on the way up, because you will meet them again on the way down”

To the genuine human being beings I met in youth football. I hope for the sake of the game you get recognised and placed in positions were you can get the influence you deserve. Also thanks for everything I learned from you. 

Ok, ive still got my 7 paged EPPP experience and I need to decide to release it or not. In the meantime, my time in youth pro football under this system is over.

Tony McCool

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