NEVER be afraid to make a mistake. Learn the lesson and then forget the mistake you’ve made.
That is one of the main messages Republic of Ireland U19 women’s manager Dave Connell gives his players.
Having watched him coach and seen his players in games, it’s quite evident that Connell’s players play with confidence. Confident of not being afraid to make a mistake, while trying to do the right thing.
This is what has been instilled in these players and what Connell believes to be one of the most important factors in his role as a coach and manager.
“It’s something that I always tell my players in every training session and game. Never be afraid to make a mistake. Forget the mistake you’ve made and learn the lesson.
“We’re working with players and developing players and they will make mistakes. They’re human. It’s trying to get them to forget about that and learn from it for their own progression.
“That is what’s important.”
During these crazy times without sport in our lives, I for one, am glad of the FAI coaching webinars that Coach Education Manager Niall O’Regan has been organising.
For the past number of weeks O’Regan has given us an insight into the lives of coaches, their roles and their love for the game.
As a coach myself, I have found these webinars extremely informative. It's great to see these coaches, ordinary people, showing their passion for the game, their pathway to the level they are at, and this has definitely motivated me to want to reach this level in the not too distant future.
They have shown through these webinars that nothing is impossible.
Here, Dave Connell gives the FAI an insight into his role with the FAI, his love of the game, and how he cares for the development of each individual player that crosses his path.
“I have managed and coached many teams and I absolutely love it,” said Connell.
“I am lucky to have coached in both the men’s and women’s game and both have given me a lot of experience and fantastic memories.
“People often ask what is the key factor you need to be a good coach. To be honest it differs for different people and some might have a few and others may just have one that is enough to be the best coach.
“For me, it’s all about the player and coach relationship. I truly believe there needs to be a mutual respect and mutual pursuit for your goals. Once you have this, it is a great and healthy start.
“I enjoy working on the player-coach relationship and establishing a team goal at the start of a campaign.
“It’s definitely my favourite part of the job. Winning games is nice but my role is very much developing players where, hopefully, they kick on and represent our senior team.
“That’s the goal of all underage managers in any club I would imagine.”
The former Limerick and Galway manager has always admired many coaches from various sporting codes and has picked up different tips along the way however developing his own style of coaching, and hoping to inspire players through his ways was something he has always focused on doing as opposed to imitating other coaches around him.
“I admire different coaches from all different sports and cultures but I mainly focus on inspiring myself so I can help inspire the players.
“I wouldn’t have anyone in particular I look up to but I do admire top coaches from the past but I wouldn’t have a stand-out coach.”
Growing up loving the game from an early age, a period which really inspired Connell was the 1970 World Cup and this is a team and era he would love to have been part of.
“The 1970 Brazilian World Cup winning team would be a dream team I would have loved to coached.
“It is arguably the best team of all time and it was the first World Cup I remember. Looking at that team I was mesmerised by them and when I got older I did a lot of research into them and the team they were.
“People see the ‘False Nine’ as a new tactic but it was something they were using then. They were a fantastic team and I would have loved to have worked with that side.”
Connell has been involved with the FAI since 2011 and has had some fantastic memories, working also along side former Cork FAI development officer Dave Bell, however, here he shares us with one of his favourite memories which involved Cork girl Clare Shine.
“I am lucky to have some fantastic memories during my time with the FAI however my favourite memory was our win over Spain in the 2014 Women’s U19 European Championship Finals. We had Spain, England and Sweden all in our group and we beat the three of them.
“Spain were the reigning champions at the time and we went into the game with a couple of weeks’ preparation.
“A reporter said to me before the game ‘is there going to be a clash of styles?’ and I said ‘wait and see’.
“We beat them 1-0, Claire Shine got the goal that day, and we should have beaten them by more because we played them off the park.
“It was a fantastic occasion and one I will remember always.”