Winning At Life

Singapore , 21 Mar 2016

Winning at Life

Game for Life helps Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy Singapore develop their young footballers holistically with an effective framework that facilitates their strategic inclusion of values into training sessions.

In line with its vision of getting people to live better through sport, and developed in consultation with local and international sporting and educational experts, Sport Singapore’s Game for Life (“GFL”) framework helps to equip youths for the real world through sport.

Specially designed to help educators and coaches inculcate values in a clear and comprehensive way, the GFL framework presents sporting pursuits as opportunities for character development and learning valuable life lessons.

While GFL has already been adopted by some local schools, the Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy Singapore (“RMFTA”) is the first private sports academy to adopt the GFL framework.

RMFTA has embraced the GFL framework as it is very much aligned with its values-based focus on their players’ holistic development, which forms an integral part of its training philosophy. It has helped RMFTA facilitate a more effective learning process and has proven to be a great tool in its constant endeavour to ensure that its players become not only just better footballers, but also better people at the same time.


Coach Ismael reinforcing the learnings learnt during the debrief

Explaining the significance of teaching life values during training sessions, Ismael García, Assistant Technical Director of RMFTA said: “If you are a professional player, you will have to retire eventually. But you are going to be a member of society all your life. And that is why we have to focus on more than just scores, but also on these kinds of values. These are the values that will be carried over into the future lives of the children.”

RMFTA has since found it easier to infuse values such as respect, responsibility and solidarity into their sessions. By being astute in identifying the opportune moments to impart lessons on values to their charges, the experienced RMFTA coaches have also been able to make this effort appear entirely spontaneous.

“We have often talked about values with our players even before this project (adopting GFL), but GFL has helped us integrate even more values-education into our training sessions. The process of adopting GFL has helped us realise even better how, if you want to focus on a certain value, you can do it based on the exercise that you are carrying out on the pitch. It has helped to enhance our way of planning our lessons,” revealed Rafael Palacios, fellow Assistant Technical Director at RMFTA.


Coach Rafael demonstrating the need for focus when handling the ball

Significantly, the infusion of values education does not hinder but, in fact, supports the football training and learning process, as it provides a useful context to young players who are still developing the required technical and soft skills to be effective members of a team. This helps them to take on board new concepts and advice as teams and individuals more easily.

15 year old, Kaki Fong, a player at the Academy, gives an example: “There is greater emphasis on teamwork compared to last time. We are asked to work with our teammates more, than just individually taking possession of the ball. It’s like thinking about the team before yourself, there is slightly more emphasis on that. In the exercises there are more possession games and also emphasis on passing - more teamwork based and not just doing it yourself.”

13 year old Caelan Mulligan, also echoed: “What I most want to develop is responsibility…For example if I’m not playing well I just want to kind of stay away from the ball and not be in the middle of the game. So I kind of want to improve [on] that so that my teammates can trust me and I can give more to the team.”

Indeed, Kaki and Mulligan’s keen understanding of their coaches’ lessons is a clear indicator that the conscious inclusion of values through the Games for Life framework has been successful so far. Even the parents have noticed positive changes in their children, and attribute it to “coaching methods” provided at the Academy, as Steven Chua puts it.

“I think my son Jovan, [who trains with the Academy], has developed better time management skills, discipline, and learnt how to manage and overcome setbacks,” he added.

“The players are getting used to these values in the training session. For example, if someone falls down, another will try to help him. These kinds of values are important to us, and [our players learning the right values with us is] maybe the most important thing in our academy,” affirmed Ismael.

The Game for Life toolkit, provided to participating institutions in the form of teaching aids and lesson templates, will help sport educators and coaching professionals instil values that pertain to performance on the field (e.g. confidence and diligence), social skills (e.g. harmony and responsibility), and ethics (e.g. integrity and respect).

For a detailed impact analysis report on the Game for Life intervention at the Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy Singapore, please click here.

To learn more about the Game for Life Toolkit, please click here.

The RMFTA coaches were invited to conduct a values-based football session as part of the Game-for-Life Workshop for coaches in May 2016. Read more about what happened during the workshop here.





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