Former France coach and French Football Federation (FFF) technical director Gérard Houllier was honoured for his outstanding contribution to coaching in Europe as the 19th UEFA Course for Coach Educators concluded in Brussels on Thursday.
Houllier, who managed Liverpool FC to UEFA Cup victory in 2001, was presented with a special award by UEFA technical director Andy Roxburgh following a question and answer session on the subject of handling professional players at the four-day event for coach educators and technical experts from UEFA's member national associations.
"When you receive trophies it means that you are getting older. Any kind of recognition is gratifying and appreciated. It's true that I've already been the hard-working student as a technical director, and at the same time coaching the coaches. It's a whole cycle, my contribution to UEFA is not new, so I appreciate receiving such recognition," Houllier, 64, told UEFA.com.
Also coach at RC Lens, Paris Saint-Germain FC, Olympique Lyonnais and Aston Villa FC in an illustrious career, Houllier was keen to emphasise the importance of events such as the one taking place in the Belgian capital this week: "It's important because it is almost like a refresher course, it is continuous learning. The coaches who will train other coaches need to update their knowledge, whether it's the football aspect, communication, management skills, all things like that.
"It is important that UEFA brings ideas and information to the different nations in order for their own coaches to develop and adapt to changes, and thus perform better."
The theme of the course was "Preparing for Reality" and the participants were given a sample of the training techniques of the Royal Belgian Football Association (URBSFA-KBVB) as they watched a coaching session of the Belgium Under-18 team, taken by current Pro licence student of the Belgian Coaching School Kris Van Der Haegen at the URBSFA-KBVB technical centre in Tubize.
Offering further insights into the Belgian setup, technical assistant of the national team Herman De Landtsheere explained the role of a match analyst, outlining the process that goes into creating a report on an opponent. He concluded by discussing the technological resources available to analysts and coaches, an area also showcased at the course venue with delegates able to see demonstrations of UEFA's TactX coaching tool.
A series of presentations were made around the theme of "The team behind the team". Belgium national coach Georges Leekens spoke about the challenges facing his side and the importance to a coach of having a good team around them, from players to back-room staff, such as technical analysts and those on the medical team.
The value of goalkeeping coaches in the team structure was illustrated by UEFA technical instructor Frans Hoek and former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner, while providing a medical perspective was UEFA Medical Committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe, who touched upon issues faced by team doctors.
UEFA technical director Roxburgh stressed the coach's role as a leader, addressing questions including the difference between management and leadership, whether there is a particular winning style of play, if there are qualities essential for a leader to possess, and the reasons why leaders might fail. In his closing speech he summarised how basic principles of football such as width, mobility and penetration also apply to coach education in terms of its rules, beliefs and standards.
The course ended with thanks from European Commission director general for education and culture, Bart Ooijen, and URBSFA-KBVB general secretary Steven Martens to UEFA for stimulating the host association and all the participants present. Ooijen encouraged everyone to keep moving forward, saying: "If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got."
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