Monday, March 14, 2011

Nazari on hiring coaches and player development

Hassan Nazari is one of the top youth coaches in the United States, and leads the Dallas Texans Soccer Club. Nazari spoke to Mike Woitalla for the Youth Soccer Insider's ongoing interview series with leaders of U.S. youth clubs.

SA: What does your club look for when it hires coaches?

There are several things. Knowledge. Having a little playing background helps a lot. And accountability. For me it’s always about accountability. People in a decision-making position always have to be accountable.

We also look for specialists at age groups. Somebody who’s a great U-10 or U-11 coach might not be a great U-18 coach.

SA: What do you mean by “accountability”?

We monitor the people who are in charge and watch how they make a decision for this and that.

At our club if someone is in charge of something and that thing doesn’t go well or doesn’t improve as much as we want -- we’re not going to give him another position making decisions.

SA: How do you judge the coaches at the younger ages, when results are not the best indication of how they’re developing talent?

When we hire a coach, we look at the team when he takes the first step.

Throughout the year or season we watch that team. And we always compare that team, individually and as a group, to where it was from the first day that that coach took charge.

We look closely at the team on first day, then in the middle of the season, and at the end. Are the players individually improved? Are they playing better as a team? This is how we judge that coach.

Now, whatever anybody says, at the end of the day, success in the sport is about winning trophies as well developing players. It comes together.

You cannot say, this coach is not winning, so he’s developing players. Or this coach is winning, so he’s not developing players.

At one point, it comes together and we expect that at the higher age groups.

SA: Is there a specific age when you start giving more importance to the results?

We are looking at two things from the older age groups. One, how many of our players break into the professional level. How many players get to college and play. How many realize their dream of getting a college scholarship. And all of that.

Two, how successful we are when we go to a certain tournament and compete with the rest of the country.

We have about 15 players playing professionally in MLS and Europe.

[Editor's note: Dallas Texans alumni Clint Dempsey and Ramon Nunez played for the USA and Honduras, respectively, at the 2010 World Cup. The Los Angeles Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez was MLS 2009 Rookie of the Year. Alejandro Moreno has won MLS titles with Los Angeles, Houston and Columbus.]

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