Meet: Jorg van der Breggen
Role: Dutch FA – Coordinator Football Development
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
My name is Jorg van der Breggen, I’m a UEFA-A educated coach. Working with children in sports because of my background as a PE-teacher, and especially in soccer is what I’ve been doing for about 20 years now. I’ve always loved playing football, ever since I was a young kid. Life was quite clear in my younger days, if I had a ball or at least something that rolled and some friends everything was fine.
I always was a small player in my teams until I started to grow rapidly quite late, therefore I had to slow it down for a couple of years due to several injuries from which I suffered. After that and my study I started playing again for about 5 years in my hometown first team with my friends. But at that time I already shifted from playing myself as the most important thing to coaching children on the pitch besides my job as a PE-teacher in primary and secondary school. The whole soccer coaching thing was something which I got really passionate about in a short time. I got my UEFA-C and B-license and followed all sort of other courses.
Through an intermediate step at a big grassroots club I went to a Professional football Academy, Here I started as an assistant coach at the U17’s and work independently with the teams in de middle age (U13 and up). I combined my work as a teacher on one hand and the coach on the other, until after a few years I was offered a full-time position at this Academy.
From that moment on I developed myself more as a coach of the coaches besides coaching my own team. I also became responsible for the scouting/recruitment part of the club and the collaborations in the region with the grassroot clubs. After that, I noticed that developing football policies, to have a bigger influence became more and more my passion, which also resulted in a move to the Dutch FA, the KNVB. Here I got the opportunity to develop and implement plans with and for grassroots and – professional youth football.
2) How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
My answer to this question would be without any doubt: ‘very important, crucial’ in terms of giving children a sustainable live long sporting career! But I guess this wasn’t always my opinion, it grew this way through my experiences along the way.
In my beginning as a younger starting coach I experienced this as quite difficult part of the job. It felt like, ‘they, the parents, had other ideas than I had… maybe sometimes it felt like they were the ‘enemy’ or something like that. At least that was my impression. Although at the grassroots clubs where I worked there was for example always a meeting at the beginning of the season with the parents where we introduced each other, our way of working, made some agreements and so on. But during and after the season we, didn’t meet again formally as a group. So there was hardly any more profound contact. The only moments where I really did speak with them, as I can recall about this period, was when their child had a problem or something negative happened. So probably this was the reason where my perception only grew in that way.
My perception changed during the years, especially when I started working at this professional Academy. I noticed that parents wanted to be involved, more than I was used to. And then I thought that this could be a good thing, because they have so much knowledge about their own kids, this could be very useful.
At that time, I also started realising by self-reflection that good coaching wasn’t only about preparing and organising suitable training sessions and helping the players by giving them advices in their development and making a line-up etc. It was a much more complex situation of comprehending the children, the footballers in who they are as a person and as footballer. What thrives them every day, what makes them happy or angry or sad and so on. As we always said getting to know the child behind the player. So, I realised that we needed to create an environment where we really knew each and every individual. And that as starting point that should make it more logical tot give them a good time at our academy where they were able to develop themselves to their best version. And this environment doesn’t only depend on my or the other coaches interactions with the players, but off course also with their parents.
Further on my way I’ve seen a lot of good and bad examples and I used a lot of information from all the dozens of studies that has been done about the importance of the parents role in sport.
So, my perception definitely changed during those years. My tendency in the beginning to maybe keep the parents away, because of the pressure and the hazzle changed completely by bringing them closer so they better understood what we were doing. The ‘enemy’ became the ‘resource’. And I really do think that as coaches we sometimes need to be a little bit humbler, because parents know their kids much better than we as coaches do. So, I believe that it is very important to make them a part of the process!
3) What are the benefits of being a positive youth sports parents?
If a parent supports their child in a positive way or is positively involved in the child’s sport and emphasizes on task-oriented thinking, in my opinion this is a ‘good and positive’ parent. The support of parent is a crucial one as we know, because they offer a base of trust, on which a child should always fall back on unconditionally.
Children themselves also indicate that they like their parents to be involved and support them in their sporting experiences. They like it when they get positive and supportive comments about their attitude, sportsmanship and commitment (Tasks). Instead of being put under pressure through certain behavior about performance and success. (Performance).
A positive involvement of parents (support and understanding) in a child’s sports activities results in higher levels of satisfaction and higher participation and commitment in sport for the rest of their lives.
4) Tell us a bit about how your parents supported you through the journey into becoming a player/coach/teacher?
The parents which I have met during my coaching years were as I would say most of the times good parents. I mean, off course as every parent they are proud of their child and they want the best for him or her. As a coach I always wanted the same, and that was also the best for their child: having fun in doing sports and being able to develop and become their best version of their selves.
So, in the end where on the same page! We have different knowledge about the children from our own perspective which I believe can really reinforce each other in a positive way!
5) What advice would you give any youth sports parents, with a talented son/daughter and ambition also drive to reach the highest level?
I would say the same as a sad before.
For me there would be no difference in supporting a ‘talented child’ or a less ‘talented’ child. I don’t like labelling children this way, because we know that development is so non-linear and we also know from research that people will act, or try to act like that label (whatever that looks like) or the other way around, whereas children can really make themselves redundant little.
The right support from the parents is for both crucial! And off course I know that having a child who’s trains more the investment of the parents in time and so on is more, but that doesn’t mean they need to behave different or they have more rights to behave themselves differently towards their sporting children.
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Thank you Jorg for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Influencer