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Q & A With Rene Miramontes

In March of 2009, U.S. Soccer National Staff Coach Rene Miramontes led 45 coaches to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the first international coaching education trip through the U.S. Soccer Coaching Department. Miramontes will now lead 44 coaches to Madrid, Spain, for a week-long trip. Miramontes spoke with CoachesNet ahead of the week-long trip to Madrid to discuss the coaching education experience provided by the international workshop.

CoachesNet: What can a coach expect for attending the trip to Madrid, Spain?

Rene Miramontes: “First and foremost, we will experience the Spanish soccer culture. It is one thing to read about and watch La Liga on TV, but quite another to experience it, see and feel what the cameras can’t convey. Next is the exchange that will take place. Not just from the people in Spain, but also from within our group. I am very much looking forward to the interpretation that our coaches will give from the information we receive. And last but certainly not least, I am very much looking forward to Greg Vanney’s involvement. As a former national team player and having played professionally in Europe, I know he will have a lot of information that will enrich everyone’s knowledge of the game.”

CN: Can you explain the role you will play during the week?

RM: “In a situation like this and given the quality of the coaches attending, I see myself as a facilitator. My job here would be to make sure that the information is assimilated as well as exchanged. The measure of the success of this trip lies on the involvement of the group and its willingness to participate and share information.”

CN: The group will spend time with various professional teams and coaches during their seven days. What do you hope they learn and see?

RM: “The real thing. The reality of high level professional futbol. As a small example, our meals will be at a facility named the Ciudad del Futbol. Think of the environment and the atmosphere in this place. The coaches will also be able to feel the demands and the pressure that players and coaches are subjected to as well as the status that these individuals posses. On the technical side I think that we will be able to see the importance of preparation as well as how attention to detail plays such an important role in the game at that level.”

CN: Will participants take part in field sessions?

RM: “I know one thing: The coaches will hit the ground running (literally). The first activity we have prepared for the group is a mini tournament where everyone that wants to play will be able to do so. As far as participating in the sessions that the group will observe, I am not sure. In my opinion, at this level, it’s better to watch, take notes and ask questions than to be an active participant of the session.”

CN: How do you feel educational workshops like these help coaches develop?

RM: “Coaching education is a never-ending process. This is truly a global game and because of this, as we improve the game in this country, the need to learn from other soccer cultures will become imperative. We must join the rest of the coaching communities in the world. We cannot continue to operate under concepts and methods that are five or ten years old. We must catch up and move ahead. We are a culture that places a high regard for education in general, so why should soccer coaching education be any different? Trips like this will enhance the knowledge and perspective of our coaches without a doubt.”

CN: Can you give an example?

RM: “One deficiency in our player’s game is technical proficiency. In this particular trip the theme we are looking to explore is technical development the Spanish way. I am anticipating that they will place a very high priority on precision as well as perfect execution. I am very much looking forward to the degree of coaching and correction that takes place during a technical session.”

CN: What will a typical day include?

RM: “These trips are usually a ‘whirlwind’ one wakes up in the morning and before one knows it is midnight. A typical day will consist of usually two lectures by top professionals in the field as well as on the field observations of either academy teams or first division team training. Also, to visit Spain and not to do some sight seeing would be unforgiving, so some time for this has been allocated, but all in all it will be a full day.”

CN: How do these educational workshops differ from a coaching school?

RM: “The coaching schools work under a set curriculum that must be covered in a short amount of time. This curriculum is based on the game but the focus is to help the candidate obtain a license. Also, the candidate must show proficiency of the curriculum and pass a test. This is an environment that lends itself to pressure and limitations of the material that needs to be taught. In this trip, 90 percent of the information received is based on the reality of the situation. This means that in this case, the information that will be presented in this trip will be particular to the needs of the Spanish game. Our coaches will get a different perspective of how they see and interpret the game. This environment is non-pressured and provides our coaches with alternative information that will expand their knowledge and hopefully their interpretation of coaching.”