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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Time to let the birds fly free
by Cambrian Varsity Athletics

From the moment he committed to the soccer programs at Cambrian College, coach Giuseppe Politi never lost sight of the need for succession planning.

Just a few years following his arrival, he would structure his coaching staff such that he would retain the title of “Master Coach”, with Dayna Corelli (women) and Stephane Legrand (men) denoted as associate coaches.

The time has come, apparently, to let the young birds fly free, leaving the nest.

Come the fall of 2018, Politi will step back from his in-game role along the sidelines, with both Corelli and Legrand now assuming the mantle of head coach of their respective sides.

“There's a few reasons why we made some of the changes in coaching,” said Politi last week. “For me, personally and professionally, I don't know where I am going to be in a year – but there are other things. I think Steph and Dayna have put in their time, so to speak.”

“They are going through the licensing process and they need a platform or environment of higher level play in order to test themselves, to go through that professional development for their licensing just like I did.”

“I will be performing more of a mentorship role this year.”

This should prove interesting. By his very nature, Politi is a “take charge” kind of guy. That said, he is also an academic, very much a thinking man's coach, fully cognizant of the fact that this change needs to happen, at some point in time or another.

“They are going to do a few things differently and it could be a learning opportunity for me to see what they do,” he said. “They will use me as a place for feedback, a place for evaluation, a place to bounce off ideas.”

“I think there are games where I am likely on the sidelines, and there will be games where I can provide another point of view from the stands.” It's perhaps easy to forget that nine years have already passed since Politi first arrived on the scene at Cambrian. Change can be good.

“I just think it's time at Cambrian for a little bit of a different voice,” he stated. “I've put a significant amount of time into this program, taking it from point “A” to point “B”. We're happy with what we've achieved.”

Giuseppe Politi is not one to sit idle. There are far too many challenges to conquer.

“The certainties, right now, are that I am looking to complete my UEFA “A” license, but that's probably two years away,” he said. “I am still considering a PHD at some point, but certain cards would have to fall into place. I still enjoy working at the club level, with the kids – and coach development. I still love facilitating courses.”

Now 29 years of age and four years removed from his own playing days at Cambrian, Stephane Legrand is more than comfortable with the proposed transition. “I've been the one doing the pre-game talks for the past few years given the crossover between games,” he said. “I was usually the one in the dressing room. I've been running practices for the past ten or so years, that's not something I am overly concerned about doing. And, of course, Giuseppe is still going to be around, mentoring and guiding and offering his advice.”

All of that said, there will be a learning curve for the young man who has served as a head coach for a handful of youth competitive and developmental teams, as well as a playing-coach for his men's soccer team in recent years.

“The biggest adjustment is going to be the actual game management,” Legrand explained. “I've been head coach for numerous teams, but being a head coach for a U15 developmental team and now jumping up to the collegiate level, that's a big step forward.”

“Analyzing the game as its going on, making those substitutions when need be – it's no longer you're going on next because it's your turn. It's a matter of whether we need to make that substitution to get that difference maker on the field.”

From a player's perspective, there is sure to be an adjustment. No two coaches are exactly identical, regardless of how much they share similar philosophies about how best to play the beautiful game. “Giuseppe is a very analytical mind, with a keen understanding of that aspect of the game,” said Legrand.

“My coaching, and even my educational background, is more behaviour management, understanding the morale of players. I think that might be something that will change slightly. When it comes to the tactical side of things, it's still going to be a lot of similar tactics. Likely more defensive oriented, as it has always been, with me being a center back throughout my time at Cambrian.”

One added bonus of the involvement of both Corelli and Legrand with the recent teams fielded at the home of the Golden Shield is that they clearly hit the ground running, benefitting from some acquired knowledge of what needs to be done to achieve the results they and their players would like to see.

“Last year, when we were playing as a team and everyone was playing their roles, our team was showing some good success,” said Legrand. “What I think we need is a little bit more of is that determination when we do get scored on. Last year, we seemed to lack that discipline. As soon as went down a goal, the wheels would fall off, and you saw that in a few games.”

Like a proud parent, there are times that Giuseppe Politi will undoubtedly sit back and smile. Just like their mentor, both Corelli and Legrand are busy pursuing additional accreditation. “If you have educated coaches, that should translate down to better players,” said Politi. “That's always been part of my vision.”

A vision that has always included the next step for the next generation of Cambrian coaches.

Orendorff & Associates
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