Player Development, Organizational Culture and Winning – The Philly Soccer Page

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

In his post-opening interview, pre-Miami press conference, and post-court practice comments last Thursday, Philadelphia Union II head coach Marlon LeBlanc mentioned, reinforced, and reiterated his ideas about the role of “winning” in Keystone. Sports and Entertainment’s player development philosophy.

Player development is where the organization has been investing its money for years. LeBlanc has openly stated that the conscious and deliberate focus of his coaches and himself was on development, not winning. “That’s what I think you need to do to become a better and more effective professional player,” might be the coach’s typical advice. He has stated openly more than once that he and the coaches don’t talk much about winning.

But he also said adults’ de-emphasis on winning doesn’t mean winning isn’t emphasized. The focus on winning comes from the players themselves. It comes from the elusive term “culture”.

Both halves of Union Academy, the university school and the athletic football field, actively and openly teach positive self-confidence, enthusiasm and commitment.

In December 2016, when this writer spent an “embedded” day at the Academy, at 7.45am, now-retired Ian Munro greeted every player alighting from every van with a smile, a handshake and a nod. “Good Morning!” Each player responded in kind.

More recently, last Thursday, at the end of Union II practice, two newly signed professionals, striker Nelson Pierre and assistant coach Frazer Johnstone, came after practice and banged the white-bearded stranger in Australian cowboy hat and his Union II communication companion. It was Ian Munro, again.

Six years ago, the positive energy in the school during the late morning school assembly, and in one-on-one history class, and during all sorts of science labs I had visited exuded serious curiosity and concentrated. After lunch in their entrepreneurship course, each of the five seniors explained how they were going to take an asset, add value to it, and realize it as a bit of capital and then reinvest it in a future project. They closely mirrored the way the labor organization itself planned to do business then, as it has done now.

One of the initial assets was a water-damaged laptop that would be resurrected, tested, and sold. Another was a loan for the latest specialized hair clipper device so that the school barber could express the latest fashion in the haircuts of his fellow students – and Richie Graham, the academy’s founder – and earn enough money to repay the loan with a little left over. to continue to develop his repertoire.

At the start of his tenure as Union Sporting Director, Earnie Stewart explained the Academy, saying that on his first visit he immediately noticed his boys’ self-confidence and, with the enthusiasm that a father has for his son, he insisted that he wanted this for his boy.

Culture crosses team lines. As previously reported, the five first-team members who played for Union II in the season opener played as hard for LeBlanc as they would have for Jim Curtin. Four had come from the Academy so it was second nature, but the fifth, Jesus Bueno, came from the Venezuelan first division last July and celebrated his goal as much as if he had just scored in his national capital.

On his first day back from Argentina during training on Thursday, first-team centre-back Brandan Craig watched his team-mates from last season as his own training drills began, cheering them on while flexing his own footballing muscles towards full functionality.

The culture of the organization and the players themselves take charge of wanting to win. LeBlanc and his staff are trusted to tell the boys how to improve so they can and do.

Although LeBlanc would never be so blunt, it’s like saying, “Here’s how to play better, more consistent soccer. Winning will happen on its own because you have already committed to it.

Author: Tim Jones
Still learning football after four decades. A horse chestnut tree from southwestern Ohio transplanted to Chester County. Loves history, new ideas, baking bread, being a sports fan and seemingly unrelated relationships. Although he doesn’t tell you, the PSP team wants you to know that he is a retired football manager.

Aubrey L. Morgan