At the beginning of July, the geese headed to the south of Portugal. We are talking about Casa Pia AC that decided to prepare the pre-season at Browns Sports Resort. And the coach of the professional team Filipe Martins kindly answered our questions about career, the team he coordinates, football and his experience at the resort.
01 | What is the best part of being a coach?
I think that the taste of victory is clearly what is most pleasurable in this job, which is a very hard job that takes many hours away from our family life and we are always very dependent on results. Victory usually brings us a little bit of comfort and stability. Although it is short-lived. Almost always. But it turns out to be a very good moment.
02 | And what is the most challenging part of being a coach?
It is challenging, first of all, to manage men because each one has his own personality, each one has his own personal ambitions and it is very demanding to try to ensure that all of them are imbued with the team spirit. In other words, not just looking at your navel and your personal goals, but getting twenty-something heads thinking as one and that is not always easy.
03 | What skills do you think is important in a player, apart from the physicality?
I think the mental toughness is nowadays one of the crucial features in a football player, especially in high performance.
The high pressure that falls on them... If the player doesn't have good mental support, it's very difficult, it's very difficult to stay at a high level. You can't get down with criticism. You often have to isolate yourself in a bubble. And I say that these days it is very difficult to isolate yourself from what is public exposure that they have and from the criticism that currently through social networks is all very easy to criticise. So, we have to be very able to focus on what we control. When I say we, I mean us, coaches, and it goes on to players. It ends up being what our work is, our daily routine.
04 | How would you describe your team using 3 keywords?
05 | Could you mention one great moment in your career?
Real de Massamá's promotion to the Portuguese 2nd League in 2016/17.
06 | And one of the lowest moments?
My departure from Feirense. Maybe because I think I was very brave at the time when I accepted that challenge and then I felt that the wear and tear and the lack of time didn't let me accomplish the project that in my opinion had everything to succeed. However, a number of factors led things to not go the way I wanted and the way the club wanted. And it ends up being the only period that I have as a coach where I did not leave appreciated, but it turned out to be a good experience and in my opinion it prepared me more as a coach.
07 | Could you name three people in the sports world that you admire or/and have as role models?
◤ Miguel Quaresma — A lot of people don't know him, but he's a person who means a lot to me. He was my coach at Juniors. He was assistant of Mister Jorge Jesus for many years.
◤ Fernando Santos — because he was my first coach as a senior and I identify a lot with his leadership, his way of being, the attitude he has in football.
◤ And then José Mourinho — who is always a reference. For me, as a coach, he was a person who opened many horizons for the Portuguese coaches.
And right now these are the 3 people that within my profession I admire, because I identify myself with them all.
* Miguel Quaresma — Current Training Coordinator of Sporting CP. He was part of the Sporting CP, SL Benfica, SC Braga, Belenenses and Estrela de Amadora teams as Assistant Coach. Find out more
* Fernando Santos — Coach of the Portuguese National Football Team since 2014. 2 titles in International Competitions (European Championship and UEFA Nations League) and 6 titles in National Competitions (Greek Cup, Portuguese League, Portuguese Cup and Cândido de Oliveira Super Cup). Find out more
* José Mourinho — 6 Best Coach awards in the Premier League, UEFA and FIFA. 4 titles in International Competitions (Champions League and Europa League) and 21 titles in National Competitions in Portugal, Italy, Spain and England. Find out more
08 | What advices would you give to someone that just started as a coach?
Above all don't try to skip milestones.
I think that's a mistake a lot of coaches make nowadays, and I think people are getting into coaching at an earlier and earlier age.
In my time, when I was a player, I never had a coach with 19/20 years old. You usually started as a player and then you became a coach.
These days, they are also influenced by the new wave of coaches that didn't come from a football background. I mean: play in the grassroots and then choose the university route. I give a lot of credit to that kind of coaches, because I think they have to overcome some difficulties to enter the football world.
But above all, what I see is that there is too much ambition. Ambition is good as long as it doesn't go beyond the natural law of things. And I think that today there's too much desire to reach the top quickly, and we end up running over or bypassing everyone who comes along the way to reach success. And I speak from experience. I think that nowadays, a coach needs some time to reach his peak. You need to give a lot of bumps, you need to rise many times, you need to learn a lot and if we are not prepared for the phases that we are facing, we are going to pay that bill.
I think that new coaches - when I say new I mean too young - end up having a lot of ambition, and I see this because there are a lot of people that "offer to work" in my coaching staff and they all have an unbridled ambition, and they have to go straight into professional football and they have to manage to get out of here, and a lot of the times, even from the conversations I have with them, I feel that they are not prepared.
Ambition doesn't hurt, but I think that if we have to succeed, we will succeed. We don't need to run over anyone.
Continuing this subject, what advice would you give yourself before starting your coaching career?
I always had a goal. I set my targets in my life when I went from being a player to a coach. At the beginning I started at the bottom. I made sure that I started at the bottom.
My first project as a coach was with the children's club at Belas, a club where there's practically no recruitment. In other words, all the kids that came to the club stayed, because there were very few players available. It was probably one of the most enjoyable jobs I ever had, teaching the kids how to kick a ball. A lot of them didn't even know how to kick a ball. But it ended up giving me a certain amount of knowledge, a certain amount of patience.
Many people nowadays think that, in order to train senior and professional players, we don't have to be teachers as well, but many of them need our help. No matter how high we are in the level, we always have something to teach to the players. Teaching and learning. Because I think I also learn a lot from my players, from experience, from the mistakes they make, from the good things they bring into my training and I think we should always be evolving.
Could you give examples of what you have been learning from them (players)?
Yes. There are situations within the game itself where they are making movements that in my head are not ideal and then in an exchange of conversations, I end up understanding why, what led them to seek that step, what led them to make that decision and by putting myself inside their heads I can often open horizons. I mean, I hadn't thought about that, I hadn't thought about that game situation - because in a football game everything changes in a matter of a millisecond - and I think it's very important to listen to those who are being led by us, to learn from them, from the mistakes we often make. And some of them have this capacity to say "Mister, look. I did it because you told me to, but I think it would have been better to do something else." Or even before the mistake is made, they suggest something that comes from their head. Some (ideas) I take as a suggestion and carry over. And other (times), I carry my idea forward. I usually carry my idea forward a lot, but I don't stop thinking about what was said.
09 | If you could decide, would you change anything in football?
In terms of rules, football is moving towards what it is. There isn't much to change now.
In terms of game rules, I think we could only change the throw-in. It should be done with the foot. It is the only visible rule that I see that could be done. Not the rest.
I think VAR has brought a lot of good things to football at the moment, a lot of sporting truth.
What I'd clearly like to root out of football is the manipulation of matches. I think it's a very big cancer in football today. A lot of people trying to make it happen. I'm not speaking directly about my own case, and I don't even allow it to happen, but nowadays, and with the financial difficulties that clubs sometimes have, it's very difficult for some players, due to the difficulties they're going through, not to fall into that trap. There must be a lot of pressure, but above all there must be a very heavy hand for those who commit this type of crime.
10 | How has your experience been at Browns?
It's been fantastic! I didn't know it. I already had some very positive references.
At the time we decided, we had already come down here. We had come to see all the conditions of the complex and we thought it was ideal. And now, the only thing I can say is that I am very satisfied. I'm glad we took this decision.
We have here all the conditions to have a pre-season with everything that is necessary: good pitches, good facilities, good food, everything that we need to focus on what is only and solely training. An excellent gym, swimming pools and an indoor one, bicycles, ... everything you need to have a quality pre-season, whatever the level we are talking about.
Photos: Casa Pia AC
This interview was translated.