In the video bellow, the former coach of Žalgiris Kaunas basketball club Joan Plaza talks about his experience being the first Catalan coach in Real Madrid. He highlights the role of a coach in fostering mentality that surrounds sport and managing conflicts.
It’s a game
I think that coaches need to take care about the media conference. I hate when I hear some coaches, football, basketball, handball, whatever sport, talking about games like wars, battles, like… No no no. We cannot provoke the people, who are more crazy or more stressed about the game. The game is a game, it’s a game.
I try to control every kind of expressions. When I’m here in Lithuania, I think I never talk bad about Lietuvos Rytas, Neptunas or Prienai, about nobody. I respect [the opponent] hundred percent. It’s true that we need to take care about ourself and we need to show our way to do things. I don’t understand sport as something that creates more aggression in society and I’m gonna try to go this way. In Madrid I was able to be the best ambassador from Catalonia, but also in Barcelona from Madrid.
We need to understand that sometimes the media is interested to provoke this kind of conflicts between the cities, between the regions, between the countries. And the coaches, because we are talking so often to the media, we need to try to take it easy, try to reduce the conflict as much as possible.
Why is this important?
When channelling energy to something that is not directly related to the game, for example, hating the opponent, one runs the risk of losing focus on what is really important, for example, playing the game. This applies not only to players and coaches, but also to fans. Why boo the opposing team, if you can support your team twice as strong instead?
What coaches should learn
Every coach, manager or other kind of leader must understand they are role models to their team, their company, their town, their country. They have great power to influence people, and with great power comes great responsibility. I am not talking simply about demonstrating the politically correct attitude to the media, but about truly believing in the value of respect, acting on it, and fostering the same attitude in their team. Bottom line is – it’s good for performance!
No wonder Joan Plaza was so well received and is greatly missed in Kaunas.