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Talent Coach Omar Adlani wants to help the players achieve something they did not think was possible


Hi everyone,

my name is Omar Adlani, I am from Vancouver, Canada and I have been working for FC Honka as a Talent Coach on the girl’s side the past 2 years. My journey to Honka started 4 years ago when I moved to Finland from Frankfurt, Germany where I was playing for SG Rotweiss-FFM. I moved around quite a bit, experiencing different parts of Finland on my arrival to eventually settling in Helsinki. I started my coaching career in Finland in PK-35 Helsinki thanks in large part to Sergio Almenara who was the coaching director at the time. Sergio offered me a chance to start coaching my first team which was the T05-06 girls’ team who was playing at the Kakkonen level, eventually moving into the P04 boys team followed by the TB1 and TBSM teams in later years. The coaching bug bit me as soon as I saw those first players start to make improvements and I have been obsessed with this profession ever since. A big thank you to Sergio for guiding me towards this career.

Photo: Juhani Järvenpää

The road to becoming FC Honka Talent Coach continued after I met Mika Riutto, who was my educator in the “D”, “C”, UEFA “B” and UEFA “A” course. Mika asked if I wanted to be involved in the Helsinki Piiri events, which back then collected a select group of players from the Helsinki area to go and play in the Helmarit Tournament in the summertime. I was always open to trying new things and was excited to work with high level players. That first experience at the tournament really opened my eyes to how much work goes into coaching and from there I knew I wanted to make this a career. I have been working in these events now for 4 years, and each year has been a new learning experience. I spent 2 years as a coach and 2 years as a tutor to the coaches which has served as a great learning experience for me. The talent coach role is not only club involvement, but also working as a Regional Coach for Southern Finland, while also being part of a youth National team squad. I was fortunate enough to work with U-19 side (2002 born), who had a very talented group of players. The work I did during that time was very valuable to my learning.

FC Honka had received the talent coach position 2 years ago and had put an open application to fill the position. I saw the news that FC Honka will receive the position, so I prepared my application quite early and was waiting patiently for the website to announce the open application. I sent the application few minutes after the website announced the open application, a few weeks went by before it was confirmed that I would be the next and first talent coach on the girl’s side for FC Honka.

Being that I was the first one to fill this position on the girls in the club, and the club was going through some changes at the time. It was a learning experience not only for me but for the other coaches on the girl’s side as to what this role is. The only ideas I had to take with me was the work of other Talent Coaches in other clubs. The likes of Jonne Kunnas, was the Talent Coach in HJK and now the Head Coach of the First team, and Arttu Pitkäkangas, was then the VJS Talent Coach and now the Head Coach of the U18/U19 National Team. Whether they know it or not, both have been instrumental in inspiring my work today.

Photo: Juhani Järvenpää

The first year was especially difficult as my role was not clear to me, the club, or the players. It was a big learning curve for everyone involved and the role will continue to evolve. I personally never liked the word “Talent Coach”, because every player develops at different stages, and I am big believer in hard work is more important than talent. It was very difficult to come into a club, knowing very little about the players, and choosing only a few players to work with. This led me to working with 26 players at once from different age groups. This was especially difficult as the players did not receive enough individual help. I relied a lot on asking many questions to other coaches, whether it was other talent coaches, regional coaches, or National team coaches. The one thing holding me back was that there was only 24 hours in one day instead of 30 hours.  The decision on which players to work with has also evolved as the years went by. Let me walk you through how the decision process went in the first year.

1)    Ask the team coaches from C14-First team which players should receive extra attention
2)    Take into consideration the players who have been in Helmarit tournament, regional team events and National team events
3)    Watch the players myself and try to formulate a decision based on what I see
4)    Have a criterion of what to look for when deciding the players
5)    Ask the Regional and National Team coaches their opinion on players

As the second year began, my role transformed into being a “transition” coach, helping these young players transition from youth football to first team football. We as a club identified different players who were close to making the next step into first team football, and the work began mostly on the physical aspects during the winter, the extra football trainings to work on the ball mastery and since there were no games to be played due to corona it was difficult to go through game video during that time.

My duties include:
–       Keep morning trainings for the promising players to work on position specific themes
–       Be involved in the team trainings.
–       Follow up the themes practiced in the normal team trainings
–       Follow up those themes with video meetings
–       Make video clips for the players after games and have meetings with players
–       Use “Quanter” to follow their day-to-day loading.
–       Carefully follow their training load as to not over train them, and under train them
–       Goal setting

My role right now as a talent coach is to support potential players in their daily life and help them transition into the First team.  This ranges in a wide variety of things. I spend most of my time with the player in the team trainings and the mornings trainings. The rest of the time I am taking care of their schedule, training load, planning gym workouts, planning trainings, making video clips from games, and holding meetings. My role has changed this season compared to last season and it is a role that will continue to change, as the club is dedicated to improving so the role will continue to improve with it.

There are 4 set goals for our program:
1)    To achieve consistent high-quality performances by our Women’s National Team.
2)    To create a structure and system that progresses more top players to the Women’s National Team and more often.
3)    To achieve consistent progression of young talent to First team and more often
4)    To create a professional environment for the players.

These 4 goals include both short term and long-term projects, in the short term we have been able to create a more professional environment for the players and will continue to build and make it better. FC Honka has shown its dedication to this, while constantly looking for new ways to improve. This second year has been a great opportunity for young players to get a chance in the Women’s first team as we have now had 9 players make their first team debut from our youth team. Not only have we had a lot of debutants, but those players hard work and dedication has earned them a big role in the team, making the starting 11 regularly on game days.

As a Talent Coach, I spend a lot of time with the players individually off the field, whether it’s in the gym, in video meetings or if they just need some advice. We speak a lot about football inside the club and we want to improve the players to reach their goals, however I find it much more important to help these players become better people. Whether they continue with football or not, the lessons and experience they take away from being on a team is so valuable. The most rewarding aspect of my job is not the games we win, but the constant progression of the players, whether its football ability, leadership skills, communication skills, work ethic and motivation to always want more. We have these 4 set goals we want to achieve, however what I will take away with me are the moments when a player calls me to ask advice on life decisions. To help these players achieve something they did not think was possible is the most rewarding aspect of this job.

“Chinese bamboo tree:

You take a little seed, plant it, water it, and fertilize it for years, and nothing happens. During the fifth year it grows NINETY FEET IN SIX WEEKS!

“Overnight Successes” are years in the making.”

Thank you for reading and I wish everyone a great end of season.

All the best and stay safe.

Omar Adlani

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