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Psychologist Chris Shen: Tips to Bolster and Improve your Mental Health

The current COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the mental health of the soccer community. Players, coaches, decision-makers, administrators, and supporters have all been impacted by the coronavirus, which can cause anxiety, distress, fatigue, a diminished ability to perform, and burnout. Scientific research has revealed several evidence-based techniques which can help Soccerscene readers bolster our mental health, during this challenging time.

Here are some tips for readers to help improve and master our mental health:

1.Savouring

Please identify ways to create savouring experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Savouring refers to strategies we can use to create, maintain, and share positive experiences.

Tips:

  • Please use mannerisms and gestures, such as smiling, and greeting each other.
  • Please celebrate and acknowledge positive events and moments with others.
  • Please write and read affirmations, and positive words and quotes.
  • Please create and listen to playlists of music and sounds which are uplifting and inspiring.
  • Each night with a beloved person, please identify three positive events that transpired during the day, as well as the causes of these events.

 

2.Gratitude

Please adopt a positive attitude of gratitude and appreciation towards yourself and others.

When we are grateful and express gratitude to others, we create positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and decrease negativity. A helpful practice is to show gratitude towards our family members, teammates, coaches, staff, and loved ones. When we show gratitude and compassion towards ourselves, we can often withstand challenges and frustrations.

Tips:

  • Please write a positive message to someone important in your life, expressing gratitude. Send this message, or deliver this message directly to the important person.
  • Please identify a regret in your life. Please write a reassuring message to yourself, expressing compassion and understanding towards yourself about this regret.
  • Please identify an opportunity to offer kindness and assistance to someone in need. What can you do to help someone else – especially during this Covid-19 pandemic?

 

3.Mindfulness

Mindfulness refers to a psychological state in which individuals experience an awareness of objects in their immediate environment, as well as their current thoughts and feelings.

Individuals who demonstrate mindfulness direct their attention to their present surroundings and their psychological state, but engage in experiential rather than analytical processing. That is, mindfulness refers to sustained or frequent awareness and attention to current and ongoing experiences. People who practice mindfulness develop greater self-esteem, concentration, emotional intelligence, and resilience.

Tips:

  • Every hour or so, please sit quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed and focus your attention on your breath.
  • Then, direct your attention towards your surroundings – What you hear, what you smell, what you can taste, and how your body feels.
  • Then focus on your emotions, and thoughts.
  • Mindfulness practice can be used by Soccerscene readers in your pre-game preparations to develop focus, reduce anxiety, and build resilience.

Christopher Shen is a Psychologist, based in Melbourne, Australia. He can be contacted at: www.christophershen.com.au

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Football Coaches Australia launch XV Essential Skills program

Football Coaches Australia and XVenture are launching its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

Football Coaches Australia (FCA), in partnership with XVenture, is excited to launch its FCA XV Essential Skills education and professional development program.

A global first, this is a revolutionary new coach education and development program delivered via a rich and engaging virtual world learning experience. The program will be readily accessible for all coaches, from local football to elite football.

The series of modules aim to develop the ‘essential skills’ of coaching – Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Communication, Culture and Resilience. It is filled with contemporary examples from football globally, as well as providing an overview of key research across the five modules.

The modules contain 20 subjects presented in a variety of fully integrated and multi-media style materials in the form of videos, articles, activities and podcasts and connected tests to confirm understanding of key concepts.

Exterior of FCA College

FCA CEO Glenn Warry outlined the potential that the FCA XV Essential Skills program has in growing the reputation of Australian football domestically and internationally.

“Our vision as an organisation is to promote the strength and reputation of football in Australia, and the reputation of Australian football on the world stage, he said.

“Our partnership with XVenture is going to enable the FCA to position itself as a world leader in the delivery of unique professional development experiences for football coaches.”

FCA President Phil Moss will introduce the course to participating coaches as they make their way through the virtual world of the FCA XV College foyer. Moss is enthusiastic about the exciting opportunities offered by the alignment between FCA and XV.

“This is a world first opportunity presented initially to Australian coaches but accessible to every coach around the football universe,” he said.

“At the very heart of everything FCA stands for is ‘for Coaches, by coaches’ – so this an incredible opportunity to enhance the continuing education around every coach’s journey no matter what level they are working at. It is something we, along with our highly valued partners XVenture, are just so proud to present.

“The global pandemic has taught us to be more innovative than ever before & these Essential Skills programs, inside our very own FCA College, is taking that innovation to heights never before seen!”

Speaking on a webinar last Monday evening, XVenture founder Prof. Mike Conway acknowledged the importance coaches have – not just in developing individual talent, but in guiding and ensuring the wellbeing of their players.

“Coaches are taught to have amazing skillsets on technical, tactical and physical, they’ve had that for a long time… where I try to bring in a new & different perspective in the elite sport environment is in the areas of emotional intelligence, leadership and communication. Where teams apply these skills typically there are higher performance levels,” he said.

“If you go into the Socceroos camp it’s a beautiful environment. We’ve got to make sure that players want to be there as they’re traveling all over the world for 10 to 15 days at a time, so we’ve got to make it a really positive environment and how we do that is part of the various different subjects.

“This education platform is a big project and I’m massively committed to football, I’ve grown up with it and so I see the power and the strength of what we can do when we’ve got a great coach working with great young kids, we can make a lot of change.”

Each of the modules were constructed in accordance with the principles of the Attention, Generation, Emotion and Spacing (AGES) model in an effort to ensure coaches learn quickly and are able to retain information far beyond finishing the course. The platform will include a total of 103 subjects which will take between 10 to 15 minutes each to complete.

Warry, in speaking on the modern approach of the FCA XV Essential Skills program noted how influential it can be for young players.

“In my work with university students over the past twelve years the big thing they tell us about delivery of content is that they don’t want anything in ‘longer bites’ than 10-15 minutes,” he said.

“This is the way young people are learning these days. In designing the pedagogy and the delivery model, [we’ve built] a state-of-the-art program in the way we’re delivering education.”

Upon completion of each individual module, coaches will receive 30 CPD points from Football Australia – as well as recognition of prior learning from a major Australian University following the conclusion of all five modules.

Modules will be released through a gradual rollout starting Tuesday April 6, 2021 – accessible for registration here.

Football Coaching Life Podcast Recap: Episode Five with Graham Arnold

Graham Arnold was the special guest on episode five of Football Coaches Australia’s ‘The Football Coaching Life’ podcast.

Arnold has been to two World Cups as assistant to Gus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek, coached at two Asian Cups and Tokyo 2021 will be his second Olympics as Head Coach.

The current Socceroos coach has had wonderful success in the A-League winning Premierships and Championships with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC, as well as the FFA Cup with the Sky Blues.

Speaking with Gary Cole, Arnold touches on topics such as the past year’s difficulties due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, how his coaching journey began, his successes at Central Coast and Sydney, the valuable lessons he has learnt along the way and much more.

Key Quotes in Episode Five

On the current structures of football in this country

“When you start looking at the overall sport of football in this country, right from the grassroots all the way up to professional, it’s big bash football.”

On his time working with Guus Hiddink

“He taught me more in 12 months, that I probably could’ve learnt in 10 years.”

His best lesson in coaching

“My best lesson I ever learnt was the 2007 Asian Cup. I stuffed that up big time and I knew I had. But what I tried to do…was I tried to manage the Guus Hiddink way. That was very rigid, very hard…and I didn’t have the power to deal with the ‘big boys’ in the end.”

On his man management style

“I’ve never let the players call me gaffer or the boss. It’s ‘Arnie’, and i’m there to help. I’m not there to rule with fear, or scare them or dictate to them. First and foremost, I’m there to support and help them become great players and great people.”

Final piece of wisdom for coaches

“Believe in yourself. It’s tough, coaching is not easy. Believe in your way and do it your way. Be flexible in the way you think, but at the end of it enjoy every day.”

Host cities and stadiums for FIFA Women’s World Cup revealed

Details for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 have been confirmed, with nine host cities and 10 stadiums set to host matches for the tournament.

Details for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 have been confirmed, with nine host cities and 10 stadiums set to host matches for the tournament.

Australia and New Zealand will welcome the world’s best female players in just over two years’ time, which will prove to be an exciting opportunity for both nations – being the first co-hosted FIFA Women’s World Cup and the inaugural tournament to feature 32 teams.

The announcement of the following host cities and stadiums has seen six representatives from Australia and four from New Zealand:

  • Adelaide – Hindmarsh Stadium
  • Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau – Eden Park
  • Brisbane – Brisbane Stadium
  • Dunedin / Ōtepoti – Dunedin Stadium
  • Hamilton / Kirikiriroa – Waikato Stadium
  • Melbourne – Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
  • Perth – Perth Rectangular Stadium
  • Sydney – Stadium Australia and Sydney Football Stadium
  • Wellington /  Te Whanganui-a-Tara  – Wellington Stadium

While the exact fixtures are still to be determined, we do know that Eden Park in Auckland has been selected for the opening FIFA Women’s World Cup match, with Stadium Australia in Sydney the destination for the Final.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Football Australia Chairman Chris Nikou was proud to see the latest progress leading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“This is an important day for the sport because now the hard work goes to the next level – it’s a watershed moment,” he said.

“The Women’s World Cup is a tournament like no other – not since the Sydney Olympics with the attention of the world.

“[We’ve seen] an increase in gross domestic product of $320 billion, over one million spectators & audience, 400,000 more women & girls playing our sport – as we work with our member federations on equality of participation by 2027.

“[There’s also] 6,000 upskilled people, 3,000 new jobs and 16,000 Indigenous community contacts internationally.”

Westfield Matilda and Melbourne City W-League player Jenna McCormick also shared her excitement for the landmark tournament.

“To have [the Women’s World Cup] in Melbourne as the sporting capital of Australia is really awesome,” she said.

“I know with this unique sporting opportunity that the whole city will certainly get around the event and I’m really excited to see the response from the community.

“[I’m looking forward to] having family, friends and the football world come out and support us in what will be a once in a lifetime tournament here in Australia and New Zealand.”

Today’s announcement also drew elation from member federations Football NSW and Football Queensland, as the two states will be key components for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge:

“The Football NSW community welcomes FIFA’s announcement that Sydney has been selected as one of the cities that will host 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches. We are ecstatic that Stadium Australia will host the final.

“Female football is the fastest growing area of our sport, and today’s announcement will undoubtedly turbo charge further growth and boost the popularity of the sport.”

Football Queensland President James Richardson:

“It is fantastic news for our entire football community that the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is coming to Queensland.

“This is the biggest women’s sporting in the world. In the Women and Girls Strategy released last month, we highlighted the tournament’s potential to deliver immense benefits for all Queenslanders, particularly women and girls.”

The host cities and stadium selection was finalised after a rigorous eight-month process conducted by FIFA, together with the two host associations. It involved a series of virtual workshops and an assessment of infrastructure and facilities.

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