On Monday we were fortunate to be joined by Uganda Head Coach, Johnny McKinstry. His coaching journey is a fascinating one with roles as Sierra Leone and Rwanda national team head coach, as well as club head coaching roles in Bangladesh and Lithuania. Johnny is a fellow countryman of mine and, although our paths are very different, it was enjoyable to hear similar stories about aspirations in the game that were hammered by a high school careers advisor!
We talk a lot on podcasts and on social media about coaching and culture when we take over a new team. However, the one aspect we don't really address in detail is how the coach adapts to the culture rather than simply defining and dictating it. Johnny gave a great insight into how he achieves this in different countries and how relationships are at the forefront of his work. You can tell that there is a deliberate attempt to not only getting to know the player better, but also setting the tone for how the relationship will work. Aspects like only talking for 5 minutes during a conversation, creating a "safe space to share your opinion", and touching base with players during their time with clubs to ask if they need anything, all show that Johnny is very intentional about putting the player/person at the center of his work and using that as a platform to build teams and relationships.
As we took some questions from the coaches listening, it was fascinating to hear Johnny break down the work that he and his staff do whenever the players are with their clubs. Again, the relationships are the priority as he pointed out that the training camp schedule must be finalized so that they have enough time to have those formal and informal meetings with the players. The last question from a player who played for Johnny in his first university head coaching role was a nice way to finish it. A serious reflection into a game that happened a long time ago, and that they also won, is a good reminder for young coaches how far a mindset like that can take you in the game.
You can check out the full interview below.
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