So, if you could introduce yourself to our wonderful audience?
My name is Roger Domingo-Roca and I have been staying in Glasgow for almost three years now. I came to Scotland due to work commitments and started coaching a girls’ team a week after landing. I have experience playing and coaching at CE Sabadell back in Barcelona and it was something I did not want to lose when I moved to Scotland. In my last years at the club I was very lucky to work with very knowledgeable people who I learnt a lot from. Conversations with them not only about the game but also about the growing up process of the player which helped me to start developing my own methodology, as well as understanding how to plan all the aspects of the game from young ages up to senior football for both genders.
Coaching is something of interest in YFS, tell us more.
My first role as head coach was when I was 19, which involved developing all the planning during the week and developing the training sessions which included other management roles, as in Spain all this logistical aspect works a bit different than here in Scotland. As years went by and my experience increased I developed my own way of coaching. I have not invented anything, but I learnt and took advantage from past lessons from every coach I had and I tried to apply all these concepts on my planning, periodization, and coaching sessions. For instance, I like to plan what kind of relationships I want the team to develop between different lines (which we call sectorial, intersectorial, or complete structure) and where I want to focus the coaching points on (player, players, or team). All this combined with the adequate tactical objective of the game gives a very rich output. Sometimes it’s better not to give a lot of information to the players, as too much information can create the opposite effect on them. This methodology is possible to apply at all the different age groups doing the adequate changes.
So, what was it that originally inspired you to become a coach?
I had my first coaching proposal when I was 15 years old and I was having a bad time as a player since I was not having as much game time as I expected, but at that time I wanted to play. It was then when I injured my left knee in a training session and after a year of hard work to come back to the pitch I had the same bad injury on my right knee, so I decided to do some coaching during the recovery time as well as taking my first football badges. All this combined with my rehabilitation plan and the few training sessions I could attend. After that I spent a couple of years combining both coaching and playing, but when I was 19 and preseason started, I realised about the reality of defending the colours of a big team and I decided to quit and to keep my focus on coaching, as well as having a better and broader formation not only coaching wise but also in terms of physiology, physical preparation, and the role of Head of Youth.
Using this knowledge base how do you feel footballers in Scotland respond to your methods in comparison to the more traditional SFA approach?
Well, to be fair I am not the most appropriate person to say if my methods work better or worse than others, but my feeling is that when I applied it at its maximum exponent in a 15s team the girls responded very well. The only thing I always try to do is to use a ball. I understand sometimes the players need an exhaustive physical preparation plan, but from my point of view carrying a ball makes it easier for them, even if it’s just adding a small header or a one-two with the coach in a circuit. At the start, I think it was a bit difficult for the players to get used to different concepts, different points of view and different approaches. And in this case, I was not only trying to convince the players but also other coaches who were working with me, as they had never worked with this kind of methodology and terminology so everything was new for them as well. It was a very good challenge for me and my opportunity to show myself that this approach could work in a different environment that the one I was used to in Spain. At the end of the season it was nice to have a very positive feedback from the players, the parents and other people involved within the club.
What would you consider the most positive thing about the girls’ game in Scotland?
If we speak at a senior level I think the competition is growing faster than we could all have expected a couple of years ago. Not only at the SWPL1 where teams are investing a lot to be able to beat City after 10 years of dominancy, but also the SWPL2 and the SWFL1 are more and more competitive every year. Some people might think that in the SWFL1 or in the SWPL2 teams are not good enough, but reality is that during the last years all teams struggle to beat each other in this category, both in the south and north region (when referring to the SWFL1). The best example to realise that the domestic competition is increasing its level is Scotland’s National team achieving the final stage of the EURO2017. I think this exponential increase of the quality of the game and development of the teams in such a small frame of time is incredible, and we all must keep working to make the girls’ game better in Scotland.
From an academy point of view, I think that one of the positives is that every time more and more girls get started to football. I remember coaching players who started their football adventure when they were 15 or 17 years old. Now it seems that girls chose football as their main sport at an earlier age, what makes it great for the evolution of the game from all the points of view, but mainly from the players’ development perspective. Hopefully this tendency will remain consistent over the upcoming years.
The biggest thing that could perhaps do with the most amount of work?
I think one of the big things to work on is the general unwillingness to learn and change what has been established for a long time. The game is evolving very quick in Scotland and this means that the organisations and the clubs must be in constant change, readapting their approach to the women’s game constantly. It would be good to readapt and review all the methodological build up at least once every two or three years.
I also think that a better communication is needed. I will give you an example: we have players that do physical tests with us during the week, they play a game on Sunday, then they go away with the National team (what implies traveling and all its consequences in terms of fatigue) they do physical tests with the National team, then they play 2 games in 4 days. Then they travel back and have more games with the club. This results in a massive minutes’ overload on the players caused because of a lack of communication between the different coaches. The questions to be asked is why do they have to repeat the physical tests 4/5 days later? In this situation the players are the ones who have more to lose as their injury risk massively increases due to a bad rest-to-work ratio. I think it would be better for the players if we kept all the data from the physical tests they do at their corresponding clubs, so the coaches can send this information to the National team’s coach. Thus, they could develop better individual plans for the players’ physical preparation based on objective data coming from the clubs, where the players spend most of their time.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to keep enjoying this wonderful game at 100%. At the moment I would like to focus on a new project I started not long ago with one of my best friends, Daniel Blasco, called Sonrisa de Gol (smile goal in Spanish) which involves an in depth description of the methodology, some sessions, and a blog that talks about different sports. By now it seems that everything is moving in the right direction and some news will come out soon if all goes as planned.
Thanks again to Roger for taking his time to talk to us today.