Yannick van der Putten studied the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute and works as a football coach for Houston Dutch Lions FC in the United States. He wrote this column for Telesport*
When I now look back at footage of my first matches as a football coach in America, I’m still ashamed of the way I got into arguments with the referees. Call it a culture shock or common misconceptions in knowledge. Nowadays, as a coach, I focus on what I have an influence on, namely on the behavior of my players instead of that of the referees.
In the HFA, one of the biggest competitions in America, you never know what to expect. Sometimes you play against a team of old men and sometimes against young athletic players. There is also a big difference between North American and South American teams. The North American way of playing is influenced by American football, which is very defensive with a lot of kicking the ball deep to win territory. With South American teams, it is war from the first to the last minute. All these differences make it interesting as a coach.
America is not a football country yet—although there are football lovers everywhere and the stadiums in Los Angeles, for example, are full. It does not really matter to me, because this challenge is fantastic and incredibly educational. The cultural difference certainly plays a role in the group process, but the love for the game is what ultimately connects us.
I studied the Master in Coaching at the Johan Cruyff Institute and, at a young age, I was confronted with questions about why I do things the way I do them, who I am as a coach and a person and where my qualities lie. This gives me direction. As a coach, I use the game to connect. For me, what’s key is the connection I have with the individual players and the team. I firmly believe that real development only takes place when you know the person behind the sport and also that you can mean more for someone, both on and off the pitch, if you build a relationship of trust.
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