Tips from the top

All Whites coach in his element.

All Whites coach in his element.

SCENIC ROUTE: New All Whites coach Fritz Schmid proved a big hit with Te Wharau School years 5/6 footballers yesterday. Schmid was orginally scheduled to fly in yesterday but chose to drive from Auckland the day before. “I wanted to see the scenery and people had told me going around the Coast (from Opotiki) that the scenery was beautiful . . . they were right,” Schmid said. “I stayed overnight at the East Cape and stopped at Anaura Bay, it was beautiful, too. The whole trip was amazing. New Zealand is such a wonderful country.” Picture by Paul Rickard

If the All Whites buy into the experience, philosophy and enthusiasm of coach Fritz Schmid, New Zealand football could be on to a winner.

The Swiss-born 58-year-old, who took charge of the national team in March, was in his element coaching the Te Wharau School years 5/6 team yesterday. He ran a session in which the young players had fun while receiving some valuable tips.

The scheduled one-hour session went for 2½ hours, with the parents and yours truly loving what we were watching.

Schmid had the kids eating out of his hand as he interacted and took part in every drill — no long-winded speeches and keeping the kids sitting around.

After a short explanation of what he wanted them to do, Schmid joined in with the unbridled enthusiasm of a man who loves coaching and playing football.

By the end of the first couple of drills he knew each player’s names and gave them nicknames — Ronaldo, Messi, Harry Kane and so on.

When he finished, you could see improvement in all 15 players from their ball control to tackling and scoring.

After autographing certificates, boots, — basically anything he was asked to put his name on — he was happy to have selfies taken with the players, who were a credit to the school.

They showed respect, a willingness to take on board what he was saying and work hard at improving their techniques.

But while it’s all very well having fun with a primary school team, how will Schmid cope with the pressures of being the 17th head coach of the All Whites?

“The principles of football are the same no matter what team you’re coaching,” said Schmidt, who has a four-year contract with New Zealand Football.

“It’s my job to provide all the elements to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games . . . and hopefully the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.”

“I want my teams to defend high up the pitch, putting pressure on the opposition, while at the same time being strong at the back.

“My preference would be to play with a genuine three at the back but that will depend on the players available at the time.

“I took a young team away to the Intercontinental Cup in India in June and wanted them to step up. Some did more than others.”

Schmid’s CV includes assistant coach of Austria and assistant coach for Swiss Super League side FC Basel, winning the Swiss Championship and Swiss Cup four times and twice qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

Before his time with Basel, he was head coach at SC Kriens in the Swiss Challenge League and assistant coach of FC Zurich in the Super League when they won the Swiss Cup.

Last but certainly not least, he was assistant coach at Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League in the late 1990s.

So what is a man with these credentials doing in charge of one of the world’s footballing minnows?

“There’s a story behind that,” he said. “I was out of football for about seven years, wanting to spend more time with my family. When you are away that long it’s not a matter of just holding up your hand and getting an opportunity to coach an international team.

“It’s a great honour to be head coach of New Zealand. Now it’s my job to get results — not to win the World Cup but to qualify and then be competitive.

“I don’t like losing, as you saw with the kids.”

Schmid said he was confident the All Whites could qualify for the Olympics and World Cup.

“We missed out on the last Olympics but we have huge potential.”

If the All Whites buy into the experience, philosophy and enthusiasm of coach Fritz Schmid, New Zealand football could be on to a winner.

The Swiss-born 58-year-old, who took charge of the national team in March, was in his element coaching the Te Wharau School years 5/6 team yesterday. He ran a session in which the young players had fun while receiving some valuable tips.

The scheduled one-hour session went for 2½ hours, with the parents and yours truly loving what we were watching.

Schmid had the kids eating out of his hand as he interacted and took part in every drill — no long-winded speeches and keeping the kids sitting around.

After a short explanation of what he wanted them to do, Schmid joined in with the unbridled enthusiasm of a man who loves coaching and playing football.

By the end of the first couple of drills he knew each player’s names and gave them nicknames — Ronaldo, Messi, Harry Kane and so on.

When he finished, you could see improvement in all 15 players from their ball control to tackling and scoring.

After autographing certificates, boots, — basically anything he was asked to put his name on — he was happy to have selfies taken with the players, who were a credit to the school.

They showed respect, a willingness to take on board what he was saying and work hard at improving their techniques.

But while it’s all very well having fun with a primary school team, how will Schmid cope with the pressures of being the 17th head coach of the All Whites?

“The principles of football are the same no matter what team you’re coaching,” said Schmidt, who has a four-year contract with New Zealand Football.

“It’s my job to provide all the elements to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games . . . and hopefully the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.”

“I want my teams to defend high up the pitch, putting pressure on the opposition, while at the same time being strong at the back.

“My preference would be to play with a genuine three at the back but that will depend on the players available at the time.

“I took a young team away to the Intercontinental Cup in India in June and wanted them to step up. Some did more than others.”

Schmid’s CV includes assistant coach of Austria and assistant coach for Swiss Super League side FC Basel, winning the Swiss Championship and Swiss Cup four times and twice qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

Before his time with Basel, he was head coach at SC Kriens in the Swiss Challenge League and assistant coach of FC Zurich in the Super League when they won the Swiss Cup.

Last but certainly not least, he was assistant coach at Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League in the late 1990s.

So what is a man with these credentials doing in charge of one of the world’s footballing minnows?

“There’s a story behind that,” he said. “I was out of football for about seven years, wanting to spend more time with my family. When you are away that long it’s not a matter of just holding up your hand and getting an opportunity to coach an international team.

“It’s a great honour to be head coach of New Zealand. Now it’s my job to get results — not to win the World Cup but to qualify and then be competitive.

“I don’t like losing, as you saw with the kids.”

Schmid said he was confident the All Whites could qualify for the Olympics and World Cup.

“We missed out on the last Olympics but we have huge potential.”

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