Monday, January 12, 2009 Interview: Mike Saif

Photo: KC Dynamos coach and WORLD CLASS COACHING president Mike Saif talks with

Today's profiles: Mike Saif

Team(s) you are affiliated with: KC Dynamos U10 Boys

How did you begin playing/coaching? Played as a kid in England like all kids did and got into coaching because my Dad coached professional teamsName some of your biggest wins as a player/coach: 12 KS State Championships, Region Two Championship and a USYS National Championship

Name some players you have played/coached against that have impressed you (and why?): I have coached lots of players that have impressed me...too many to mention. Some for how they improved their technical ability and some for how they compete and some for their special leadership abilities.

Compare the game now compared to when you first started playing/coaching: It is as different as night and day compared to when I played over 30 years ago. The game is so much more physical and faster now. Even if you look at games on TV from 15 years ago you can see a big difference. The youth game has also improved in KC over the 17 years I have coached here. The talent pool is deeper, which makes for more competitive teams in each age group.
What factors have helped you be a successful player/coach? My Dad was a pro player and coached pro teams in England. My brother coached at the Academies of pro teams so we were pretty much a soccer family and I learned to look at games through the eyes of a coach and not a player or fan. I definitely learned more from discussions at home than I have by attending any coaching licensing course. Also, as the president of WORLD CLASS COACHING, I am interacting on a daily basis with coaches all over the world. I also have daily exposure to training sessions, methods and ideas from these coaches. This not only improves my coaching knowledge but keeps me on the cutting edge.

If you were to improve one thing about the game/competition/regulations about the level of the game you're associated with what would it be? Where do I begin? The culture of youth soccer in the U.S. has some great strengths but also has some strong negatives. Three issues that hold back player development are:
1. Coaching and player development decisions being made by inexperienced volunteers who see things from admin perspective and not a technical perspective.2. A desire to win and collect trophies, especially at a young age. This is inbred in our soccer culture and is part of the players, coaches and parents. This can lead to situations where development takes a back seat to attempting to win.3. Overplaying and not enough quality training. Our young players play too many games that don't help development. They play outdoor league, tournaments, indoors, 3v3, guest play, ODP, etc. Not only does this wear the players out and set them up for injuries as they get older, but the games don't mean anything to least not the right thing. As mentioned earlier, their purpose is to win games, so they don't get a chance to try out new skills, etc.Things are beginning to change for the better and this is a good sign. US Soccer has taken the lead with the older players and cut this down so players have to train three times a week, don't participate in ODP and participate in a national type league.

Name your top 11 players you have played with or coached: As I said earlier, I have coached too many good players that it would be unfair to try and find 11 to put in a list.

Name your top 11 players of all time (no restrictions): Here are some in order - George Best (without question). Pele, Maradonna, Tony Currie, Zidane, Cruyff, Beckenbauer,

This interview was completed on: (date) Jan 8, 2009.

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