‘The FUTURES Programme is Spectacular’ says Spanish Legend
“You have to be a little crazy” is World Cup winner Paco Sedano’s response to why goalkeepers are a different breed. “If you don’t like the ball being hit in your face, you can’t be a goalkeeper” was his view on one of the inevitabilities of the role.
It is also a position with a lot of responsibility with the former Spanish international identifying the similarity with that of the team captain. He was both, and at a club like FC Barcelona where you are under the spotlight like no other in the world.
“As a goalkeeper you have a lot of responsibility as the last line of the defence and if you make a mistake it is always a big one and maybe it’s a goal. When you are a captain of one of the best teams in the world like Barcelona, every action and behaviour is very important, and everyone is watching. You have to be a role model on and off the court.”
Sedano was speaking after a week spent coaching and mentoring the goalkeepers on the FUTURES Programme. He was left very impressed with the level of his students especially on the female side. He believes they have comparable ability with those at the same age in Spain where he has worked with the youth national teams.
It was not just the shot stopping skills that he highlighted; “Their ability is one aspect that has impressed me and the other is how prepared they are mentally, how they approach the training sessions and take on board the information. Their desire to learn is spectacular. Regardless of ability, with this approach to learn you will have a lot of success.”
This is quite a complement considering it comes from an all-time great who has won everything there is to win in the game, both at club level with Barca and international level with Spain. During a career like this competing in high pressure games was a regular occurrence but Sedano stood out for his enduring and contagious tranquillity on court.
“It is something I trained” says the 2-time Champions League winner on his mental toughness despite the eyes of fans, media and TV pundits being on him. “Slowly I realised that I shouldn’t get too excited when I played a good game and people were praising me or too down when I made a mistake. I tried not to celebrate too much when I did a great save because I knew in the next moment I could make an error. This helps because you don’t get too down when you make a mistake. Having this confidence in yourself also gives reassurance to your teammates. I worked a lot on managing my emotions.”
He regards the ability to utilise mistakes as a learning opportunities as one of the two keys to being a good goalkeeper. “When you make a mistake [as a goalkeeper], it is almost always a big mistake. You’ve got to treat mistakes as part of the learning process. If a mistake causes you to get frustrated, it is going to negatively affect your process as a goalkeeper. If you treat is as a part of the learning process then every mistake is going to make you a better goalkeeper.”
He was able to set aside mistakes during matches before analysing them once he returned home where he would identify the areas he needed to improve. This is the other key element he believes is essential to becoming a good goalkeeper.
“You have to be complete. If there are 10 skills and you are good in 9 but bad in 1, you need to work on the bad one. You have to competent in all, not necessarily to stand out in all, but neither can you be very bad in any one.“
Winner of the Futsal Planet Best Goalkeeper in the World award in 2017, Sedano has a huge passion for goalkeeping and this led to him forming the first ever futsal goalkeeping school in Spain alongside a friend. This idea has since been replicated across the country.
He believes accessing specialist goalkeeper coaching, something he never had as a youth player, is critical to the development of goalkeepers. “It is important because here with only 1 week of work you can see how much they have progressed and improved in certain aspects with only a few sessions. If you’re taught when you’re young, you are going to learn much better.”
And this development will not only benefit those that stay in futsal but also those that decide to transition into soccer. “In recent years, the technique of soccer goalkeepers has become very similar to that of futsal goalkeepers. Especially in 1v1s. They used to go to the floor very quickly but now they stay up longer like in futsal. There are excellent examples such as Ter Stegen and De Gea.” Says the 43-year-old who played futsal and soccer until he was 16 years old.
His humble and calm nature, alongside his willingness to help and share his knowledge, made him a very popular figure among the FUTURES players who he believes gained an incredibly valuable experience whilst in Barcelona. “I think this programme is spectacular. There is no other word. The approach of United Futsal to provide every element of the sport for the kids so they learn is incredible.
“They learn in the US but to come to Spain, where futsal is one of the most popular sports, they gain knowledge they can’t get back home. The are taught a different way of training which is complemented with working under different coaches. Each offers them something different. They get to compete against teams that are very different to what they have faced before. Everything is here in one place that they need to learn.”
He finished the interview by giving two pieces of advice for anyone that wants to follow in his footsteps and play at the highest level.
“Firstly, enjoy the game. This is a game to enjoy and if you don’t enjoy it you won’t get there and you won’t learn.”
“Secondly, once you get to around 16 years old you have to act like a professional even if you aren’t yet. You have to look after yourself in every aspect. This will prepare you to become a professional.”
*ABOUT DOUG REED*
Doug Reed is a professional futsal player from England whose passion for the game has taken him across the world to report on top stories, and provide insights from someone inside. Visit his website at www.dougreedfutsal.com or follow him on social media via @DougReedFutsal.