It's back to basics with kids

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

It's also about helping them mature and develop their character.

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 aged 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 junior players is a package: the player and the person.

Uruguyan-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 training 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," Fernandez said.

The former midfielder holds a level 3 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 what he learnt from touring overseas coaching academies was that players must learn basics before they master finer points.

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

"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."

Fernandez's brother Xavier assists him with coaching.

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