Can you introduce yourself? What is your position in the club and how long have you been with the club?
My name is Serge Sarlette, I am an UEFA A qualified coach and I have an amateur Youth Academy Director degree. I am starting my second season as Youth Academy Director at FC Tilleur. Before that, I was technical manager at FC Herstal. Currently I am working in this role because of my UEFA A diploma, but I have also coached senior and youth teams.
How would you describe your club in maximum 5 words?
The president who recruited me at the time asked me to develop a vision based on the following 3 pillars: organisation, discipline and fun.
What is the mission and vision of your youth academy?
As mentioned earlier our vision is to focus our club development around organisation, discipline and fun. We translated this vision into a learning plan and this is in line with the Walloon Football Federation’s draft learning plan for 2, 3, 5, 8 and 11-a-side football. So we implement it by doing the planning, supervising and guiding the trainers.
Where do you recruit your players?
The philosophy we have is to work in two categories. The 2, 3, 5 and 8-a-side football is done at regional level. We use the club's website for this, where we have a 'football academy' page with a specific tab for player registration. So each player from U6 to U13 has to go through this. For 11-a-side football, we register all players who call or email us in ProSoccerData via the recruitment module.
Via the PSD recruitment module, we send an email to these players with an invitation to participate in a future training session. In this email they immediately see where they are expected and at what time.
Why did your club choose to work with PSD?
I got to know PSD through Miss Renard who works in Tubize and who introduced me to the software. As an Youth Academy Director, I immediately fell in love with it. Moreover, in the clubs where I have worked over the last 5 years, i.e. FC Herstal, RFCU La Calamine and FC Tilleur, I have implemented the system. Why did I do this? Because I think it’s a platform that allows you to have an overview of everything: attendance rates, call ups, scheduling, reporting, communication etc. Communication is very important to us and thanks to PSD there is no one person in the club who could say to me: I was not informed about it.
I've been working with it for five or six years and I didn’t have many problems, even with the parents. The only problem is that sometimes parents don't know how to use it properly. Forgetting the password is a common problem or not knowing how it works. In this case, we will meet to explain to them how it works. In my opinion, this is a tool that is invaluable for a club.
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Which PSD module do you use most often?
Several! There is already a calendar which is very important because it is linked with the Federation. So when we have a request that is accepted by the Federation, it synchronized immediately into our calendar. In addition, it is very important during the winter months when we have to cancel a training session or activity. In this case, the people concerned will immediately receive a notification and will be informed that the training will not take place. Also, in the calendar we can immediately see when a particular team has a free weekend so we can possibly plan a friendly match for that team. So the calendar is one of the things we use the most.
I also use the administration module a lot, especially for player/parent details. Both via the web platform and via the mobile application, I can find the mobile number to call that person in a few seconds.
How do you communicate with players and parents?
When I started working with PSD, there were people who contacted me by SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger, all sorts of social networks. I took the firm decision not to reply to SMS messages or to use any other network through which I was contacted. I used to tell them that our communication channel is PSD and that they should use it. I also try to convince the trainers to work in the same way.
Were there any initiatives in the club to keep in touch with the players during the lockdowns?
During the lockdown we recorded small technical exercises on video and sent them to the players. The players could then try these exercises at home.
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What achievement or feature of the club are you most proud of?
As soon as I joined the club, we did a SWOT analysis. Communication was very different before I joined. That's why in my meeting at the beginning of March 2020 with the president, I told him in terms of communication I absolutely wanted to work with PSD. I am very proud to have implemented this because I think that communication is very important in a club at all levels.
What does the academy want to achieve in the next 3 to 5 years?
First of all, we want all the players who come to the academy to feel good. We want a new player to say: "I want to learn, I want to play football, I want to make progress, I feel good because my trainer gives me confidence.
The second point is that thanks to his desire and enthusiasm he will achieve new skills. The third point is that the player must also have fun, because it is always a game. So if I manage to put this framework together, I will be a happy Youth Academy Director.
One day I hope that when I'm retired, I will open the newspaper and say I had this player in my academy, he made it to professional level. That's the greatest pride you can have.