Why football, what sparked your interest in the game from a young age?
I remember as a young kid from as early as four years old sitting on the couch next to my Dad watching a game of football. I didn't understand much but i knew there was something fascinating about this game. As I grew older my dad would take me every now and then to watch a live game, from that moment onward I was hooked on the game. The roar of the crowd, the chanting, the singing, I was infected from an early age and I knew from that moment onward football was going to be a huge part of my life.
2. Did you play, and if so what was your playing career like?
As a youth player up until the age of sixteen I played at the highest level in the Australian Premier Youth League Competition. Technically I was always one of the better players in the squad but I always lacked a physical presence. I had poor fitness and I wasn't very quick. That said I did enjoy huge success in my youth playing days often being called to play with older age groups and I came very close to attaining a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport. A well know ex team mate of mine was none other than Tim Cahill (Former Everton Player) and current Australian national team player.
At the age of seventeen my discipline began to fade, I wasn't training in the off season, I was more concerned about buying a car and meeting girls than I was about my football. After returning to my club in poor shape for the new season I was released. I was so frustrated by that set back that I came to a decision not to pursue playing at the highest level, instead opting to play in a lower league where the training requirements were not as demanding and I could enjoy more free time. As the years went by I began to see a number of my ex team mates playing professionally, participating in Youth World Cups and I was left with this sickening feeling in my stomach thinking, what if? what if I had decided to continue playing at the highest level and remained focused and committed. .what if!!
3. Talk to us about your coaching career, what's the journey been like thus far?
I began my coaching career at thirty years of age coinciding with the launch of my football development academy called Galaxy Football School in Partnership with West Ham United International Academy. From there I began to learn my craft as a coach. I was privileged to be invited to London and spent time at West Ham United with the clubs Academy coaches and spent considerable time under the guidance of then West Ham Assistant Academy Director Paul Heffer. Paul offered some great insight and really provided an excellent foundation for me to begin working within youth football development. When I returned to Australia I started coaching a group of Youth Players aged between the ages 15yrs-18yrs. I had a certain development philosophy which I wanted to implement with my players which was centered around self belief.
4. Why coaching, what was your motivation to become a coach?
I strongly believe that I gave up a professional career at an early age because of a lack of self discipline, poor attitude and a lack of self belief. I originally started my coaching journey for one reason and only one reason, and that is to help as many youth footballers as possible realize their dream of becoming a professional footballer. If you were to go back and watch every single one of my 500+ coaching videos on YouTube you will see one continuous theme that flows through everything that I do. I am there to help the players fulfill their full potential, nothing more and nothing less!
5. Statistics show that most coaches within the professional game now days come from a professional playing background. What's your opinion on coaches with a non playing background at professional level vs coaches who have the experience of playing at that standard?
This is an interesting one because everything on paper would suggest that an ex professional footballer should be much better suited to coaching than a coach who hasn't got that experience. One thing that I have learned is that coaching is a completely different skill to playing. It requires dedication, passion, insight, intelligence, man management, motivation, an ability to communicate and deliver a message in the right way, a vision, a philosophy...the list goes on. You only need to look at coaches like Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Andreas Villas Boas, Sven Goran Eriksson, Gerard Houllier and Arrigo Sacchi to name few who never established themselves as professional players at the highest level yet they are some of the most respected coaches in football. In my opinion it all comes down to the coaching mentality. If a coach believes that a professional playing background is vital to coaching success then it will be vital to his success. However if another coach believes that they are more than capable of success without the professional background it will not affect them in the slightest. Both will be correct!
6. Based on your own coaching experience, what advice would you give to young aspiring coaches?
For youth football it’s all about development of the players. The best advice I could give any youth coach is this, care more about your players than you do about your image. Care more about your players than you do about your reputation, care more about your players than you do about your results. I know you must be thinking, hang on a second Fab, without a good image, without an excellent reputation and without winning results I will never get a job again? Remember this, the success of your players is your business card, as a youth coach your only KPI should be the development and success of your players, this is not something you can fake either, players are very intelligent and can quickly figure out if you are sincere in your approach. When you are sincere and care about the player’s development above everything else they will respect you more and most importantly they will begin to believe in themselves more. For senior coaches out there, it's more about tactical awareness as opposed to individual development, you need to spend time on developing your own way of playing and building yourself a great team of coaches and players around you that best suit that philosophy. You need to breathe that vision into your staff and players. The more you believe, the more they believe.
7. Who is your football idol and why?
As a kid growing up playing football I always idolised Alessandro Del Piero, I am a huge Inter Milan fan so idolizing a player that played for Juventus was quite difficult at times, but Alessandro just played the game with such class, he was always a player that I looked up to. I also admired the Brazilian Ronaldo and Roberto Baggio. Now a days I tend to widen the scope of influencers in my life to people such as Napoleon Hill, Jim Rohn and Eric Thomas.
8. Can you recommend any books/dvd's?
I never actually read or watched DVD's or read football development books, I would usually just search YouTube and Facebook pages like Keepitonthedeck for new ideas and the only books I read were football drills manuals etc. In saying that I have read some books that have changed my life and I would highly recommend reading them. Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason, The Kybalion by The Three Initiates, The Science of Being Great by Wallace D Wattles Rich Dad and Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
9. If you could give only one piece of advice to a young aspiring footballer, what would that advice be?
For any player that aspires to become a professional I will give this advice. The journey to the top of anything is not going to be easy, are you prepared to sacrifice? Are you prepared to face rejection after rejection and keep coming back for more? Are you prepared to work harder than you have ever worked at anything before? Are you prepared to miss out on all the best parties and social events? Are you prepared to listen to criticism and constructive feedback even when you don't agree? Are you prepared to sit on the bench with no explanation as to why you are there? Are you prepared to be laughed at by people who don't believe in you? Are you prepared to do whatever you have to do in order to make it as a professional footballer? If you have answered yes to everything without doubt, then you will be successful. The problem with most players today is that they are so caught up in the hype and the glitz and glamour that they get lost in the grind and eventually lose their drive. Go into it knowing that no matter what they throw your way you will push through it and eventually claim your prize!
10. What does the future hold for Fabian De Marco in terms of coaching?
At this stage there are no plans to return to coaching, I am enjoying spending time with the family and living a pretty quite life at the moment. In saying that, I often think about my players and wish them the very best with their football careers. Just hearing about their successes each week is like an injection of satisfaction, knowing that my philosophy of always putting the players development first has had a huge impact on so many players lives a great feeling. My two boys will begin playing football in about 3 year’s time, I might return to coach their U6's side :)
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