Gonzalo Naya grew up in Uruguay where he played senior football, and also started coaching the U18s at his club 3 years ago, before more recently coming to Australia to study an MBA. His plan was to take a break from football, but this only lasted about one month, as he started playing again for a little bit and then decided to focus on coaching. His first coaching role was with the U15s at Harbord Seasiders, and he now works at Manly United assisting the U14 AYLs, as well as working for an academy.
I thought it would be tough to stop playing after 30 years, but now I have found that I have a greater passion for coaching. Coaching and educating gives me more satisfaction because I can give more to others.
So what are the differences that Gonzalo has noticed between South American football and Australian football?
In South America we live football with passion. Its everyones first passion, because the quality of life is not the same there and football is an escape. Football can give people hope and something positive in their lives.
Is there something we can learn from this and apply in Australia?
I think it is very important to consider the environment you create with the team you are coaching, and ask them to consider why we play football. There are values we can teach as a coach such as working hard for your teammates, praising effort before talent, and encouraging a growth mindset. South Americans also have a proactive mentality when it comes to taking responsibility for dealing with setbacks rather than just giving up. Players need to develop more perseverance and resilience in Australia.
Luis Suarez is Gonzalos favourite player, and he tells a story from Suarezs career to illustrate his point.
Suarez was in the first team of Nacional as a teenager, and he was whistled by his own supporters. He then went to a small team Holland and worked hard, always with his mind on his dream. His wife had to move to Barcelona for family reasons, and he told her he would one day play there so they could be together.
And what about coaches developing themselves as well?
I think coaching should be supported by the best knowledge. I think we as youth development coaches have a big responsibility to be pillars for kids, and so we have to be highly prepared. Football it is my passion and I am committed to becoming the best coach I can be, which is why I am taking all the courses I possibly can, including doing the C-Licence soon, as well as looking to acquire as much knowledge as possible through reading books, watching games and informal football discussions.
Gonzalos dream is to go back to Uruguay one day to become a professional senior coach there.
I want to start as a youth coach and gain enough experience there first, but eventually I want to be a senior coach because its the highest level and I want the highest level of challenge. In the future I hope to work with a high level senior team in Australia at some point, starting as an assistant coach and eventually becoming a head coach. Then I want to give back to my country because I am patriotic and my passion was born there to be honest, I would prefer to coach my team (Penarol) than Barcelona. Most people get their role models or idols from football, so if the first team can be a good example in terms of behaviour, values and attitude, then it will have a positive influence on society because people will follow their example.
MWFA is looking forward to seeing Gonzalo develop as a coach and hopefully achieving his dream one day.
Look out for more articles on other MWFA Future Coaches in the coming weeks.