One of the goals of the Maccabi Tel Aviv Avi Cohen Youth Academy is to help the young players improve and advance to the first team. Behind the scenes are many coaches, assistants and staff that are there to provide the next education along the way. One of those people is Asaf Heber, the Under-14 Coach who tells us about his time to date in the world of football and the work he does at the Youth Academy.

Asaf Heber – Coach Under-14 North
Asaf has been working in the field of football for 11 years, 3 of which at the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Academy. He is the head coach of the Under-14 North team that plays at the University branch of the academy.

“Football is my love and I did my coaching degree years before I actually began to coach. When my oldest son began playing at the Hapoel Petah Tikva Youth Department a friend of mine who was coaching asked if I could help out twice a week. From just aiding a friend I ended up becoming a full fledged coach.”

The Academy philosophy
“I arrived at the club when changes started to happen at the youth department so I can’t compare to other places I had worked for in the past. On a personal level I enjoy every minute and the philosophy is such that it translates exactly to the style of play that we work on during our training sessions. The technology helps everyone learn and improve before, during and after training sessions and matches. We can show the players various different pays that occurred during training or in a match from various angles and we can discuss if the decision that was made was the best possible one. Everything is done by questions and answers in order to help the players and support them when they have to make decisions during play in the future.”

Developing younger players
“It’s important to imbue in the young players the desire and hard work both on and off of the pitch. It’s like a long marathon so they can learn and continue to develop throughout the year. Unfortunately there is a limit to training hours and the youngsters rarely play football or any other sport in their free time. In order for them to be the best that they can be they must invest many more hours outside of regular training times.”

Improving as a coach
“What separates other youth departments in the country from what we are doing with Patrick van Leeuwen, the club’s Performance Director, it’s the philosophy that coaches need to continuously develop from presentations, lectures, discussions, visits to academies outside of Israel and working directly with the rest of the staff. I also read books and also watch videos of other training sessions.”