By Sports Reporter/ Doha
In the first Star Chat of Day 2 of the “Aspire Academy Global Summit” in Football Performance and Science, the delegates had the opportunity to get an insight into the work of Felix Sanchez, head coach of Qatar’s national football team, that won the AFC Asian Cup title earlier this year.
Asked if this success significantly changed something for him, he said that with success and responsibility go hand in hand and that it meant for the team to keep up the good work and to push themselves even more in the future.
“In times of success it’s important to set yourself clear targets to keep up the motivation and for us, these targets were the Copa America and the Asian Cup qualifiers,” Sanchez said.
Speaking about the role he played on the way to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup victory, the Spaniard stressed that this achievement was the result of a long process and that he was the lucky coach to be there at the time of triumph. In many ways the progress of Qatar’s players resembles the development of his own career as a coach.
After working with small clubs in Spain and in the academy of FC Barcelona, he joined Aspire Academy as a youth coach in 2006, later got the opportunity to train youth national teams of Qatar and step by step worked his way up from age group to age group before being put in charge of the senior national team in 2017.
“I would not be here today if I had not joined Aspire all those years ago. It is a project that is unique in the world and working here and being exposed to some many great people from all over the world also shaped me as a person.”
Sanchez also stressed the importance to create a good environment, so a team can flourish on the pitch. “The coach is the one people see, but there are so many more people working with the team. We are very fortunate to have a group of professionals with excellent knowledge that help us to be able to compete in the best shape.” Asked if it would be an advantage that most players have known him for many years, he agreed that stability is always a good thing in football.
“The players that have worked with me for many years know, of course, what I expect from them. But the most important relationship is the one the players have on the pitch. And the fact that a lot of them have played together at Aspire Academy and in youth national teams make things easier for us coaches.”
Reflecting on his early days in Qatar he stressed the importance of getting a deeper knowledge of the environment first. “I think when you get outside of your own country, you should use the first year to find out more about the local culture and try to understand the mentality of a place. You can still bring in your ideas, but you also have to adapt them accordingly.
“The players at Aspire Academy on the other hand, have always worked with coaches coming from different countries, so they are also well prepared when they move from the Academy to the senior teams of their clubs, where they also get to work with a lot of foreign coaches.”
In terms of inspiration, he is not limiting it to the recent success of Qatar’s football national team, he also thinks that Aspire Academy graduate and high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who just won a gold medal for Qatar at the recent 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships in Doha, can be a role model for his team and future national team players.
“It shows that someone coming from a small country like Qatar can set himself high goals and also reach them. In football it’s quite similar. All of us, the Qatar Football Association, Aspire Academy and the clubs are working towards the same target, which makes our daily work much easier. We all have the passion to do something big for Qatar in 2022 and have a competitive team at the World Cup.”
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