On the ball: Mental strength in football more important than physical
August 8, 2017 | 8:19 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
You have to be prepared for everything that comes because you are always going to have downfalls.

Gerald Lami may not be the first name that comes to your mind when you cast a net over some of the more well-known youth coaches in football, but as it is with any aspect of the sport, he’s someone who personifies the adage that who you are is far less important than what you can do. Having worked his way up the youth coaching ranks at Arsenal Football Club in many nations, including the UK, Italy, Bahrain, and Oman, Gerald is all set to take the reins of the new Juventus Academy, which is to begin its first training sessions this September. Gerald recently gave an interview to footballing website Football Prospects, and Times of Oman was on hand to hear what he had to say about his experiences in coaching.

Like many aspiring footballers, Gerald too had dreams to make it big, as he attended Northampton Town FC’s Centre of Excellence in the UK, one of many developmental institutions where young players train in the hope of signing a lucrative football contract with a club. “Unfortunately I was one of the players that did not get a scholarship, when I was 16, and that is the crucial age which can make or break your career,” recalled Lami.

“I was trying to go to different clubs, but nothing came of it, and I fell out of love with the game. It was a battle within my head because there were other things that were going on in my life at the time.” While this might’ve been a point of no return for some, Lami decided to look at this as a massive learning opportunity.

“There are a lot of things that go into a career of a footballer and people may not often see that because a lot of it is mental,” he said. “Football is such a harsh industry where one person says, ‘I’ll take you on board’ but the next person might say ‘you’re not good enough,’ so mental toughness is more important than the physical ability that you have.

“You have to be prepared for everything that comes because you are always going to have downfalls, but it is how you bounce back that determines your path, so to me, it is all about the mental strength,” added Lami. “There are so many avenues in football you can go into, as long as you are around the game, so that is my advice to people: Don’t give up on the game because it can give so much back to you.”

“There are a lot of things that go into making the career of a footballer, which people maybe don’t see. All they see is the exterior and the physical aspect of it, not the mental aspect of it. At that time, it was all about who is the biggest and who is the strongest, and because I didn’t have that, I was more reliant on the technical side of the game and my mental strength as well.”

It is a work ethic and attitude that has hugely shaped his outlook and ethos as a coach, one from whom young footballers in the Sultanate of Oman will be extremely fortunate to learn in the future. “The first thing that I would look into is the ability to absorb information,” he explained. If the player is able to take information and execute it, that’s the best player to work with, because if they are able to dribble, or shoot or have skill, but are not able to take in information, those things count for nothing, as you need to be coachable as a player.

“This is massive when you want to make it as a player, because the ability to take in information is vital at all levels,” added Lami.“If you’re playing at the highest level, you’re going to go into more depth, so if you’re able to take in that information better than anyone else, you are going to be the star of the team, as opposed to someone who is just technically gifted and got everything but tactically, he’s not just there so he’s messed up the structure of the team, and so he has to end up on the bench. Gerald Lami was speaking to Jamie Pollitt of Football Prospects. To know more about what he does with regards to grassroots football, visit or hit him up on Instagram at @fbprospects.

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