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‘Unique training method key to bringing the best of youngsters’ – Andre Schembri

André Schembri speaks with fellow NxtEra founder Luigi Fenech and coach Martina Borg.

Rooting for a football club can bring the best out of a person.

The passion of showing your support, the joy when your favourite team scores or wins, and the desperation if the contrary happens.

These are all emotions that make the Beautiful Game the most-watched sport across the globe.

On the other hand, though, backing your own children during a football match might not always highlight the positive qualities of a parent.

During a football match, or any sport in general, the instinct of parents to back their own children might contrast with how support should really be.

This is why former Malta international André Schembri wants to tackle parent education through his new football academy, NxtEra, founded together with Luigi Fenech.

The academy will prioritise the development of children between 5 and 12 years, making sure they touch all the basics during this foundation phase – a crucial stage that can propel the children to a better future in the world of football.

Afterwards, the children are free to join clubs from the age of 12 where they will start to play competitive 11-aside football.

Their head coach, Martina Borg – a former Malta international who plied her trade in Italian football as well – will join the NxtEra staff and through her studies in sports psychology she can be helpful when it comes to parent education as well. 

This phase precedes the other two – youth development (13-17 years) and from 18 years onwards, the professional phase where players start embarking in senior football. 

“We believe that the foundation phase is the most important phase in the development stages of football.

“What is neglected in the foundation phase would be too late to develop in the other development stages of football,” Schembri told the Times of Malta.

Here, Schembri points out that they want to create another system in the way we think and do grassroots football.

At the same time, they would be more than available to collaborate with local clubs if they show interest to adopt this methodology which will be implemented together with MBP – a school of coaches in Barcelona whose teaching philosophy is sought by a lot of former players and current coaches.

Schembri, the former Ferencvaros and Boavista player, is a firm believer that children shouldn’t train under different coaches who don’t have a specific method and training curriculum.

“As this will cause the environment to be unclear and lack direction towards any learning on the part of the young players.

To the contrary, Schembri – who played in the Europa League with Apollon Limassol – wants children to progress through one curriculum albeit under different coaches, if necessary.

“That way, children are not confused because although they might change the coaches every year, they continue to learn through the same curriculum and methodology,” he said.

“The curriculum is the process and not the coach.”

MBP School of Coaches is a football coaching school, created over a decade ago in Barcelona.

It focuses its activity on training coaches around the world with in-person and online courses with the aim of helping them optimising their tactical level to its maximum performance.

MBP philosophy

MBP is present in more than 20 different countries through football federations, clubs and professional players with some of its clients including Jaime Lozano – current Mexico coach – and former Barcelona player Edmilson.

Schembri is a huge admire of the MBP’s way of thinking, having also completed several courses with them.

“I learned a lot with MBP because they focus on a very important factor – the cognitive approach,” he said.

“They believe in three crucial pillars in football, which is similar to daily life ultimately – perception, decision-making, and execution.

“While it is more common to focus on execution – passing and shooting, MBP prioritise the other two which helps children create habits on a football pitch.”

Schembri went on to explain that those two aspects are the most utilised during a game of football.

“Do you watch Lionel Messi? He touches the ball for a total of three minutes. So what about the other 87 minutes?. He stays on alert, scanning the field. That is what we want from our children” Schembri said.

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