Communication vital to Simon’s Spain reign

Since leaving school and starting to coach in the community more than 15 years ago, Simon Goodey has built up vast experiences in the game.

Having worked at youth-academy level for Colchester, Fulham, Bournemouth and Southampton, Simon’s latest challenge is coaching in Spain – a country he first worked in for a year back in 2015.

Now a PE teacher at an English school in Madrid, and a coach at Club Unión Zona Norte, Simon spoke to us about the soccer culture in Spain, how to communicate when you and your players speak different languages, and how you engage young players in the tactical side of the game…

Simon Goodey has left the south of England behind for Madrid and Club Unión Zona Norte

SCW: You have worked with both boys and girls in different countries. Do you think it is important coaches get a really diverse set of experiences?

SG: “Yes, 100%. When I started coaching, it was all school sport and then it progressed into boys’ development centres and boys’ academies. When I came back from Spain in 2016, an opportunity came up in the female game with Southampton.

“Having spent a good four years in the girls’ game in England, the experiences you gain from the boys’ game to the girls game, and working with young adults, are different.

“For coaches starting out, there shouldn’t be a preference between working in the boys’ game, the girls’ game or with young adults. Whatever age it is, you’re going to learn a lot from those different groups.

“When you get down to coaching, and really being able to express your ideas and communicate with people, the more people you communicate with in different situations is going to make you a better coach.

“I think if people can coach two teams at once, I would definitely recommend it. When I first started coaching, I would have a boys team and I would support a men’s team.

“When you are young and you have fewer commitments, you’ve got to try and make the most of that time and be on the grass as much as possible really.”


SCW: How does the soccer culture differ between England and Spain?

SG: “Here in Spain, the passion is something else. It’s like a carnival.

“We had an Infantil A match on Saturday, where the kids are like 12 or 13 years old. The opposition had drums, our parents are chanting, it’s like a mini senior match.

“I’ve seen tournaments here where the parents have got horns. It is a proper environment for football.


“I have seen tournaments here where the parents have got horns…”


“In England, you have that question of: is it more results focused or development focused? Here, it’s so much more results focused – there is a need and a will to win.

“The development side I wouldn’t say is forgotten, but the passion and the desire to win from the kids, from the parents and from the coaches is very strong. Kids are crying after games if they’re losing.”


SCW: How has that impacted your style of coaching or the way that you coach?

SG: “In the years I coached in England, the questions people would ask would be: How did the players play? What did they do well? What didn’t they do well? How is that going to affect your coaching for this week?

“The questions asked here are: Did you win? What was the score?

“I have a friend who is a scout at Real Madrid. He says Madrid is all about winning, but in other other areas of Spain, there is a bit more focus on the development.

“Sometimes I find it difficult not to go straight to a development perspective. It is also hard because when you’re in an environment, it can be difficult not to change your habits to fit the environment you are in.

“I’m very conscious of how I talk to the players, because of my nature and because of how long I spent in England. What I believe in is, okay, we want to win, but in order to do that, there is a process.

“If we do the process, if we learn how to do these skills and we know how to do the tactical aspects of the game, ultimately we will probably do well and probably win.

“Sometimes I feel Spain could do a little bit better in terms of not being as emotional within games, as they sometimes can be.”

Englishman Simon has overcome the language barrier to coach in Madrid

SCW: How do you engage young players in the tactical elements of the game?

SG: “At the moment in Spain that’s quite tricky because my language is still improving.

“From a tactical awareness point, our finishing hasn’t been that great. So I sat down with the players, did a presentation on my laptop, and stole some of the students from school to help me translate some of the English words that I didn’t know in Spanish.

“The players responded to that very very well. That happens quite a lot back in England as well, with the video analysis and little presentations to players.

“I think there’s many different ways you can introduce the tactical side of the game to players. For some elements, tactics boards are also very good.

“But, inevitably, for players to better understand the tactical aspects of the game, they need to live it, they need to practice it, they need to have many different situations, scenario and, challenges, which you would set as a coach for them to try to complete.”


SCW: What challenges have you come up against with Spanish not being your first language?

SG: “I’ve done little bits of Spanish over a number of years. When I was in my last year at university, I did one module, but that was one lesson every week for a term. Then I came here, did one or two lessons a week and then it kind of dropped off.

“I spend all my day talking English, because I’m in a British school. So I try to get to school roughly an hour early and do some Spanish in the morning before school starts, then I’ll do one or two lessons in the evenings when I’m not coaching.

“Communication is such an important part of being a coach. Not everybody needs to learn a second language, but I’ve decided that having something different as a coach could potentially provide different opportunities for me in the future.

“Learning a language is super tough. It takes a lot of time. I’ve been learning properly now, on and off, for a couple of years.

“But, since I came back last year, I’ve been really trying to hammer Spanish every week. it’s very tiring. You have many days or weeks where you feel shot to bits because your brain’s absolutely frazzled.


“I’ve been trying to hammer Spanish every week. It’s getting there…”


“But, for me, the communication and language is something I want to try and get. I’m progressing. It’s taking its time, but it’s getting there.”


SCW: For anyone thinking about going abroad to coach, what advice would you give to them?

SG: “First of all, people have to ask themselves what they want to achieve. “Moving abroad is not for everyone and it really does depend on the country you want to go to. And it depends on how much English is spoken in that country, and realistically what the job opportunities are for people.

“Being a qualified teacher gives me the platform here to have a really stable job and potentially be here long term. You have got to be able to sustain yourself financially, but also to be able to enjoy what you want to do, which is obviously your football.

“For me, teaching was my pathway to bring me to Spain and to keep me in Spain. I would say that the best option for people is to see if they can get into British schools as a teaching assistant [TA] and then do their coaching in the evening.

“That’s what I ended up doing when I came here the first time. I found a TA job in a school in Madrid.

“If people are interested in a certain country or regional area, get in contact with the schools and try and be a TA. The salary won’t be fantastic, but it would probably be enough to live on to at least start your journey.”


“The people I’ve met here in Spain have been absolutely fantastic with me. You really do feel valued. That’s what people crave… “


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