With the OFC Champions League and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifiers – OFC Stage 3 in full swing, Fiji coaches Kamal Swamy and Marika Rodu are upskilling themselves at the OFC/NZF A Licence coaching course in Auckland this week with the hopes of raising the standard of football in Fiji.
“It’s very powerful for us to be here. We’re not here for ourselves, we’re here for our association, and we’re here for the national team. We are here to develop ourselves so we can develop the people back home. The whole picture that we want to paint is to be able to take this information back home, and pass it on to players and assist other coaches to develop the game in the country,” Rodu said.
“I think this will help our country, our association, but also our districts too. Our districts should all be at the same level so we can produce good players. Helping other coaches will help build the national team,” Swamy added.
Years of experience in both domestic and national football has given Swamy and Rodu a strong background in coaching, but both have appreciated the step-up in professionalism and game understanding they have been exposed to in the first week of the 12-day course.
“I have been learning a lot and I think in Fiji this is one of the things that we’ve been missing, we’re not analysing the games. In this course we have learnt the ways to analyse and look at it critically and how we can make our sessions counter other teams,” Swamy said.
“If we look critically at what we’ve learnt now, we have the problem of this lack of analysis, we need to analyse the games. At national level, we need people who can analyse the game and then come up with a plan. We need to improve at the top level, and to improve the top level we need to improve the coaches in the district level too,” he added.
Rodu also felt that his understanding of the game has improved, and he looks forward to applying his new approach when he returns home.
“I think it’s not only a step up, its many steps up,” he said.
“We are going into detail and being able to define the football problems. It is important that we are able to relate to players’ key issues that may hinder or improve their performance.”
Swamy has had many highlights in his coaching career before earning his current role as the assistant coach for the Fiji national team, but the moment that stands out the most was when he led the U-23 against New Zealand and nearly caused an historic upset, and Swamy wants to bring that same challenge in the senior clash at the end of March.
“I’ve been involved in national coaching since 2005 and the best moment for me was when we played New Zealand at U-23 level. We gave them a good challenge, and they only won 1-0 with a penalty.”
In addition to assisting in Fiji’s preparation for the 2017 OFC U-17 Championship, Rodu has had a successful domestic campaign coaching Rewa FC and is now looking forward to applying his new knowledge from the A Licence in Tahiti when the side travels there to compete in the OFC Champions League.
“Qualifying for the Champions League is something that I will always cherish because it’s a new challenge for me and I think I’m prepared to lead my team into this challenge. We not only want to participate, we want to compete to qualify for the next stage.”
Rodu and Swamy have made huge achievements in their coaching careers and plan to continue thriving on the international stage, but both coaches acknowledged that the road to elite coaching is long and without true passion for the game, it would be impossible to reach as far as they’ve come today.
“The most important thing for me is commitment and discipline. It’s a change of lifestyle, things that you were doing before need to change. Commitment was the driving factor for me to learn more so that I am able to prepare my sessions well for my players. Commitment to educate myself and learn from senior coaches and these kinds of courses, is was key for me,” Rodu said.
Swamy agreed, stressing that a good coach must be willing to keep learning and improving.
“You must know about modern football and you need to do a lot of research to understand the different types of players that will help in building a national team,” Swamy added.
Swamy and Rodu will return to Fiji to apply their new coaching knowledge at the conclusion of the OFC/NZF A Licence coaching course on Thursday 9 March.