Hard pursuit of youth goals

SOCCER coach George Fernandez said teaching youngsters is more than just boosting and honing their skills.

It's also about shaping their character in life.

For the past 13 years, Fernandez, a former top player, has been tutoring youngsters in the Liverpool community.

He runs his own business, Sydney Football Academy, and on Monday nights for boys and girls between 13 and 16, they come along to attend "soccer school" at Stanwell Park, Ashcroft.

Fernandez also runs his coaching programs at Fairfield, Parramatta and Castle Hill.

The 49-year-old of Hinchinbrook, who has strong ties with the soccer community as a player with Bonnyrigg White Eagles, said coaching promising junior players is a package, the player and the person.

Uruguayan-born, Fernandez, who came to Australia when he was 10, and grew up in Hinchinbrook and Casula, said soccer was always close to his heart as a boy.

His playing career included stints with Bonnyrigg White Eagles in the NSW Premier League and with Bankstown City Lions, Sydney City and St George.

Fernandez said he "learned a lot" playing with top players and under outstanding coaches which also helped shape his philosophies with coaching.

"Towards the end of my playing career I started to think about wanting to coach," he said.

The former midfielder holds a level three B coaching licence with Football Federation Australia.

He has been coaching for 13 years.

"I know many of the coaches in the A-League who are in charge of teams now, as I played against them in my time as a player, people such as Frank Farina, Graham Arnold and Gary van Egmond," Fernandez said.

Fernandez said the basic principle he learned from touring overseas coaching academies was that players need to know the absolute basics before they can master the finer points of the game.

"You can't teach young players first touch or two touch football, until they know the basics of the game," he said.

"You have to take the player back to the very beginning and then when they feel comfortable with their skill level, teach them the more complicated things.

"It's a bit like going to school, you go from first class to second class, third class, fourth class, fifth class then sixth class.

"I went to AC Milan in Italy, Bayern Munich in Germany and Bocca Juniors, in Argentina, to learn. "That's where I did all my homework and got my soccer coaching licences.

"What I learned overseas was about the mentality of coaching players and teaching them about their position and how to work on perfecting everything."

Fernandez's brother, Xavier, assists him with the coaching.

"Xavier is very smart, one of the best coaches going around," Fernandez said.

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