Léo Carlsson

Football development & Coaching mentor

Academy Coach, Norrby IF


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“You’re really passionate about this, aren’t you?” The others in the team had already gone outside to warm up. A guy had come straight from work and was still putting on his football socks. I sat alone waiting for him. We discussed leadership when he asked the question that took me to bed. I had never reflected on that. It was just a part of everyday life. The hours spent planning and carrying out the training. The more than twenty-five teenagers who only a year earlier had been strangers and now become one of my younger siblings. My constant drive to help them challenge themselves, develop and grow. I just went out and did it with a smile, but why?

I’ve been playing football for as long as I can remember. Had more coaches than I can count. Coaches who has praised me for my hard work. Coaches who have pushed me to reach my full potential. Coaches who have talked bad about me in front of the whole team when I was not there. Coaches who have completely ignored my existence. It is almost unreasonable how a coach can be the difference between longing to kick a ball, or having anxiety before the next workout.

It is that impact you can have on the lives and well-being of individuals that makes me love leadership. To not only be involved and make young people love every moment they play football, but also to see them thrive through the sport. The guy who previously could not juggle a ball five times, but today proudly manages thirty without problems. The guy who after every melee before did not want to continue playing, but today could break his leg and still get up again and with his mere presence lead an entire team forward. The guy who escaped war and came here all alone, to have fantastic friends three years later, speak fluent Swedish, and also be a reliable goal scorer. All thanks to football. However, it could have looked very different.

More children and young people are leaving club sports at an earlier age, showing alarming figures from Swedish sports research. Swedish elite football has stagnated. Swedish grassroots football is bleeding. It requires a reform of how we view youth sports and work with the development of our young people. I firmly believe in NYFA’s philosophy to invest in better educated leaders who care and to give young people greater opportunities to dare to influence their own future. Because they are the future.

We need fewer youth leaders who try to compensate for their own failed professional careers, who do it for the money or the feeling of power. And we need more youth leaders who put a lot of hard work on the individual and his needs and development. Which makes children and young people enjoy and stay in sports longer. We need more youth leaders who make children know that they are really passionate about this. Right?

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