If we are honest, we are making a mockery of the DOC role.
Many years ago, I was providing workshops for the coaching staff at the Toekomst, Ajax’s youth academy in Amsterdam. In conversation, I asked the leader of the world-renowned academy what he enjoyed doing and what he brought to the table in terms of quality. This was a pretty bold question from a Yankee to a Dutchman, I know. However, highly pertinent questions can come from low credibility people as well.
This prominent figure in Dutch football development told me that what he loved most was being on the field, working with coaches and talking football. He thought that to be his greatest strength and that it was his area of passion within the architecture of the game.
“What percentage of your time do you spend doing what you love and what you do well?” I asked.
“Maybe 15%,” he replied.
“What the hell are you doing 85% of the time?” I persisted.
“Administrative stuff,” he concluded.
So it seems that after many years working with clubs worldwide that this was not an isolated case: from the Carolinas to California and Catalonia to Cape Town absurdity reigns.
We have two options as I see it.
Option One: DOA
Let’s change DOC to DOA to better reflect that we have a focus on administration rather than coaching at our youth clubs. Director of Administration is honest and better reflects the percentage of time our football leaders are dedicating to an area they may or may not dominate and for sure are not passionate about. I did actually know of a DOC who loved picking uniforms more than leading coaches, but that is for another blog.
Option Two: DOC as a DOC
Of course another option might be to actually have a Director of Coaching focus on directing the coaches. Odd concept, huh? If my club has the commitment to choose a proper training curriculum, then we must help our coaches perfect the delivery of that curriculum to our players.
Now, I can already hear a chorus of curmudgeons telling me why this cannot happen. I get it. Pressure, distractions, obligations, paychecks, massive club consolidations, territorial wars, uniforms, etc. And, of course, we do need socks (and probably pretty expensive ones) if we aim to be a top monster club. I know.
But we can dream.
What if we actually meant Director of COACHING when we hire a DOC?
What if my club would implement a coherent training curriculum?
What if we hired a DOC whose skill set was aligned with understanding that curriculum and helping the club’s coaches to execute it brilliantly?
What if the principal role of that DOC was to maximize the potential of every player by maximizing the potential of every coach?
What if we put football first?
If we are honest we are a far cry from this ideal. We can agree (or read enough research to convince us), that the core relationships in a child’s life are of paramount importance. I have wonderful friends and colleagues who have devoted themselves to knowing this and to demonstrating this in some of the most challenging circumstances. They are mentors. They guide children to brilliance because they study the art of teaching.
Knowledge we can Google. But meaningful experiences must connect us to that knowledge and guide us to our better selves.
Mentors, teachers, parents and coaches are our learning guides. They connect us and inspire us. They elicit our better selves.
In turn, coaches need a leader as well. They need someone to guide them on a journey to perfect the process. They need support; they need to be heard; they need to be drawn into line at times. What our football club needs is a true DOC. Someone to direct our coaches and serve as their mentor.
If we are spending more on socks than souls then what can we really expect from our youth programs?
Let’s put football first and focus between the lines. Let’s have the courage and vision to put the “C” back into DOC and get on with the business of developing wonderful coaches who in turn develop remarkable players and responsible student athletes.
Let’s rewire our DOC and then give her the liberty to work her magic.