This week we spoke to coach Raphael Blanchon. The Frenchman is taking charge of three teams this season across our Youth NPL, Northern Lions SAP and Northern Tigers Girls SAP!
How did you first get involved in football?
I don’t remember when I first played or liked football. I used to go to the park to kick the ball with my father when I was very young. I started to play club football with Nantes Sud 98, U6 age group, (local club in Nantes, France). I don’t remember how but I played goalkeeper very early in the season and never moved from that position during 12 years. Besides club football, I always played with friends before, during and after school, always as an outfield player. In 1998 (I was 8), the World Cup in France (and the win!) helped to maintain and increase my passion for the game, as well as the success of FC Nantes between 1994 and 2001 (2 French league titles, 2 French cups).
How did you first get involved with Northern Tigers?
I arrived in Australia in October 2016 to participate in a coaching course in Canberra. The instructor advised me to go to Sydney to look for a coaching position. I quickly got a trial in NSFA Football School and it started from there. Thanks to NSFA/Nothern Tigers, I had the opportunity to coach the Northern Lions U9’s and AYL U13’s during the 2017 season. I was also involved in XLR8 program with Bannockburn FC, Hornsby RSL, Waitara Primary School and during the holidays clinics. This year I am coaching the Northern Tigers U16’s, Girls SAP U13’s and Northern Lions U10’s, while still doing coaching with XLR8 as well.
Which clubs have you previously been involved with?
I’ve played 11 years for Nantes Sud 98 where I had my best memories as a player. I also played for FC REZE, another club in Nantes area., but only for a year As a coach, I spent two years (2013-2014) with BRAS FC, a local team in Nseke, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo.
What do you like most about Northern Tigers as a club?
I like the atmosphere and the culture in and around the club. Everyone I’ve met has been very nice to me. A good example is the relationship between coaches. We all work for a common interest (developing players). We share opinions and ideas to try to get better every day. The club do everything to put coaches in the best conditions. It allows us to be focused only on training sessions, games and players, which is a luxury for us.
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
I believe that my main mission is to set up an environment where players can give their best during training and games. I try to implement a desire to play football based on possession and movement with a strong team unit. I believe that it is the best way to have more goal scoring chances than the opposition. It is more enjoyable for the players to play and for the crowd watching the games. Football is also entertainment and can be very emotional for all parties, whether you are playing a lunch game at primary school or the World Cup final. Aside from the technical aspect, mental strength can be developed in SAP and Youth teams. A good control of emotions and understanding of others helps a football player to make the right decision at the right moment.
What is your best football memory?
It is very hard to choose one, as a player, coach or as a fan. The most intense moments might be linked to the French national team, with the double World Cup 1998 & Euro 2000 and the win over Brazil in the 2006 World Cup as my top three.
Do you have a favourite club / player? Who/why?
As I mentioned above my favourite club is FC Nantes, North-West of France. The club won the league 8 times plus 3 French cups with a spectacular playing style, players and coaches developed in the academy.
My favourite player is Zidane, obvious isn’t it?
What do you enjoy the most about being involved in football?
I enjoy everything I do when I am involved in football.