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Technical Support For United Kids

Written by Newcastle Utd

Writer Matthew Syed and coaching mentor Alf Galustian speak to nufc.co.uk at a special Academy event this week

By Dan Sheridan

Around 150 people, including some of Newcastle United's brightest young talents, were present at a special event at St. James' Park on Wednesday night with author Matthew Syed and coaching guru Alf Galustian.

The evening, organised by United's Academy Manager Joe Joyce, was attended by a number of the Club's young players and their parents as well as representatives from many of the region's boys clubs and the Academy's coaching staff.

Former table-tennis international Syed, who now writes for The Times newspaper, spoke at length to the audience about his career and a sporting philosophy that forms the basis of his recent book Bounce.

And alongside Syed, player development expert Galustian - co-founder of the Coerver coaching programme and a regular adviser to Newcastle United - also talked about his footballing principles.

Speaking ahead of the event, Syed said: "The essential argument in my book is that when we see people performing at a high level, we make the inference that they must have been in some way born with it.

"But there is no evidence at all of anyone being born with the skills that we associate with top-level sport. These are painstakingly built up over a period of time and if we understand that, then we will be far more inclined to work hard and practice.

"Good coaching makes sure that these players are practicing in the most efficient way and that can determine the distribution of success around the world. That learning process is often accelerated and at the moment, Spain are clearly doing it.

"We limit our own development with our belief that we don't have as much talent as someone like Lionel Messi, or that we're so talented that we don't have to bother working hard.

"If we can get rid of these assumptions and get the right coaches in place, then we will create brilliant players. There is no gene in Messi that makes him play as well as he does- it is simply down to the way he was taught to play football."

Galustian, who has worked with the likes of AC Milan and Bayern Munich as well as the French Football Federation, added: "I believe that the foundation of all training should be of a technical nature - especially between the ages of seven and 11.

"The basis of the Coerver programme is that every talented player can achieve whatever they want to achieve and it's a way of teaching technical excellence. Spain have shown recently that physical size doesn't matter and that it's a technical game.

"I've enjoyed working with Newcastle over the years. I jumped at the chance to work with the coaches here, and of all the clubs I work with this is my favourite one. Once I'd explained my methods, the coaches here bought into it and accepted it."

After the event, which was held in the Kielder Suite at St. James' Park, Academy Manager Joe Joyce said: "It was interesting, thought-provoking and challenging stuff from Matthew and Alf and a very successful evening.

"The questions asked by a lot of the youngsters and their parents at the end of the session showed that they got a very good response and a lot of what Matthew and Alf said relates very closely to what we're doing at the Academy.

"People who get to the top in any profession do so because of the amount of hard work they put in, and we're trying to create the kind of environment where people can progressively improve."

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