Jamaican football coach shares experiences on course in Germany


Tuesday, March 11, 2014    

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The flight from Miami, already delayed by over three hours, was a long and torturous one. Some eight-and-a-half hours later at minutes to 10 Sunday morning, I am on the ground at the Tegel International Airport in Berlin, Germany.

As a first-timer in Europe, I was awestruck by the layout and organisation at the airport. Immediately upon disembarking the plane were the immigration queues, the walk was less than 15 metres from the door of jetway.

While at immigration, I could see the carousel a mere 15-20 metres away. From there to the exit was way less than 100 metres. By comparison, this was by far the shortest distance and time I have ever spent at an overseas airport on arrival. Amazing!

Now to finding my way to Leipzig. I had gotten instructions from our interpreter via email to get the train from Berlin to Leipzig and the tram from the main train station in Leipzig to Mainzer Strasse.

A friend of mine from Port Antonio living in Berlin was to have met me at the airport and ensured I got on the right train. She was there, I later found out, but I never saw her. I proceeded to make enquiries. Fortunately for me, many Germans speak English, even if just enough for basic conversation. I got the help I needed and was again on my way.

On the shuttle, I spoke with the driver to ensure I got off at the correct stop, he was unexpectedly helpful. In the main train station in Berlin again I had to get help purchasing my ticket and finding my departure platform. It was here that I realised I did not have my back pack. I had, in my hurry and fluster, left it on the shuttle right where I sat.

In Leipzig it was a similar story finding tram One to Lausen and learning the stop. Fortunately for me an eavesdropper pointed out to the gentleman I was talking to that the tram doesn't quite go to Mainzer Strasse so my stop is Marschnerstrasse. On the tram, I was approached by a student of the university who got off with me and followed me to my new home (for the next five months).

We have successfully navigated the first week of living in Germany and pursuing what promises to be a very gruelling course. There is so much I would love to share but space and time will not allow, so I will present as many memories as I can in the most concise way possible, once per week for the duration of my time here.

Germany is a highly industrialised and advanced society where order and discipline are striking to say the least. There are rules for just about everything, rules that are enforceable with fines. For example, if caught walking or riding across the pedestrian whilst you have a red light the fine is 45 and 70 euros, respectively.

At our dorm, there is a fine for everything, including not separating our garbage.

Education is quite obviously at a very high standard and taken very seriously. In our student handbook it states that Germany ranks behind only Japan and the USA in innovations and patents, amazing.

In our course there is a strictness about attendance, even tours and excursions are compulsory and attract fines for casual absence. Assessment is continuous and predominantly oral and practical, very few written exams will be given. As a classroom teacher, I found the strategy of randomly choosing a student each class to, in five to 10 minutes, review the previous class quite appealing. We all must study everyday or we will fail our turn at randomly being selected.

The course itself, the International Coaching Course (ITK), is offered twice annually in four areas -- football, athletics, physical training and training for the disabled. Each area is offered in one of English, French, Spanish or Arabic on a rotational basis, which means football will once again be offered in English in 2018.

Since the inception of this programme, one which is an outreach by the Government of Germany to developing countries, Jamaica has only one graduate, Colombia and Nigeria with 90 each top the list and Trinidad leads the region with nine and in CONCACAF Costa Rica leads with over 30.

It is my opinion that Jamaica must take better advantage of this programme in all four areas. In this batch, Cameroon is the most represented (three) in football and an overall 12.

The contents, volume and specificity of each of the six subject, Football (theory and practical in the topics -- organisation and structure of clubs and associations; technique and individual tactics; group and team tactics; and conditioning and performance diagnostics); Sports Medicine; German; General science of movement and training; Strength training; and Sport psychology, in football are especially exciting. It is becoming clearer with each class how and why Europe is so far ahead in football.

Next year football will be offered in Spanish and already I can think of three colleagues who would qualify to take advantage. Come on Jamaica, let's do it. We should also be targeting the other areas of athletics, physical training and training for the disabled.

Editor's note: Andrew Edwards is a teacher and football coach at Munro College and head coach of Jamaica's National Under-17 football team.





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