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Looking forward to a productive and fulfilling season

13.09.19 Looking forward to a productive and fulfilling season

Andrea Vella is a well known figure at Swieqi United. Having been with the Club since 2013, Vella has overseen the building and development of the Club's academy, while pioneering various methods aimed at the holistic development of the child. The Club's media team sat down with Vella to grab his thoughts for the forthcoming season, where he shall continue in his role of Academy Director as well as coaching the U17 squad, apart from his new role as assistant coach to the U19 squad.
When asked about how crucial pre-season is for the Club, Vella responded that “it is probably the most important part of the season at any club. All the work that occurs behind the scenes, both in the technical and administrative sectors of the Club, during the summer months, is so important to ensure that we have a smooth season. It is also a crucial period in the preparation phase of the U15 and U17 squads. The coaches work extremely hard in this period to ensure the players are physically, mentally, technically and tactically prepared for the upcoming season.
But what does the role of Academy Director entail? The title, being vague, could give rise to interpretation, but Vella is very clear about how defined his role is. “My role is to ensure that coaches follow our Youth Development Plan and impart principles which we want to reinforce throughout the phases of development at the Club. Last season we kicked off with a skeleton programme, and we are looking to launch this fully this season. We are very excited about this and want to ensure that there is continuity between the age groups and ensure that when players move up, irrelevant of who is coaching them, the principles are consistent.”
His role, however, is not just limited to what is going on at the training ground. “Apart from that, I am responsible for Coach Education and Coach Development,” he continued, “and assist our fantastic coaches throughout the course of the season. This is so important because coaching is a demanding job, and so [coaches] need to have the right support and guidance throughout the course of the season.”
Vella has been coaching the U17 squad now for quite a while, and last season’s results – on the pitch – were the best the Club has ever achieved. So how did the coach perceive it? Ever pragmatic, Vella remarked, “The U17 season was a roller coaster - some very good performances, others were below expectations. We managed to achieve what we wanted, and believe the players moving up to the Youths sector are prepared for the challenging season in Section B. The team was mainly composed with 2003 boys, so they will provide the right experience and be a strong backbone for this season's squad.”
With regard to the U15 squad, however, praise was definitely forthcoming. “Initially, we had four registered players, so thinking that we would form a team, instil certain principles and manage to remain competitive in the section would have been unthinkable. However, our coaching staff and the players worked tirelessly throughout pre-season and not only managed to form a team, but also play football in the way we would like it to be played.”
In concluding, Vella offered some words of encouragement to all involved at Academy level. “We are really excited with what we have to offer our Academy players this year. Apart from the two or three football sessions a week, we are upgrading our Futsal session and adding a small-sided-game programme to our Academy programme, in order to allow players to express themselves more and play freely. We are also looking at launching our small group training sessions over and above our training sessions in order to offer specialised and individualised programmes for our kids. Our Parents Meetings will be supported with our Player Profile and Feedback system which we have in place in order to monitor and provide more specific and accurate feedback to parents and players about their development process every three months. Moreover, following our pilot project last season, Patricia Arguello will be our Sports Psychologist and will be working with U8 - U17 age groups, in order to strengthen our mental side of the individual athlete. I am sure that everyone who enrolls with us will have a really productive and fulfilling season. I wish everyone all the best!”
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