THE FORCE OF FUTSAL: PAUL DECLE CHASES WORLD CUP DREAM WITH TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
- T and T assistant-coach set for CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Guatemala
- Reflects on how the 5 v 5 game has inspired his football journey
- Pays tribute to the coaching education environment in Northern Ireland that has helped mould him
PAUL DECLE found his coaching destination with the help of Futsal - now he's out to put the game and his nation Trinidad and Tobago on the map.
Sport Careers Agency client Decle is assistant-coach of the T&T squad as they prepare to jet out to Guatemala for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers which kick off on Monday May 3.
Decle is a vital part of experienced American coach Constantine Konstin's backroom staff as the countdown towards their quest to earn a place in the World Cup Finals in Lithuania in September nears an end.
Before the tournament gathers pace Decle took time out to speak to sportcareersagency.com about the impact the 5 v 5 version of The Beautiful Game has had on his coaching life.
He revealed: "I have my own youth organisation Pro Series Events that I started in 2015 and it was born in Futsal.
"At the start we were the only youth program for Futsal in the country.
"We use Futsal as part of our developmental program.
”It is based on the idea that the greatest teacher is the game. What Futsal teaches is creativity, speed of play and lots of transition, these are just a few benefits.
"It's about freedom of play and letting them get accustomed to it, we have seen the benefits on their control when they get out on the grass.
"They have more confidence and ability to dribble one on one.
"In Futsal the way you try to buy time and space is different, there are a lot of rotations.
"Many of these things can be transferred out on to the grass for 11 v 11 but there are subtle differences.
"From a tactical point of view with senior men, for instance, the way you rotate the players is very different."
It's six years now since Paul identified the need for a structured football program in his community.
He stressed: "The response to the Futsal program was overwhelming.
"This pushed us to expand into doing grass training then eventually competitive teams.
"Parents wanted a safe and fun environment for their kids to come and play and learn the game.
"Our qualified and experienced team of coaches are a key component in creating that environment."
Paul had made good strides locally and had earned his Trinidad and Tobago FA B Licence.
The next steps, though, were beckoning and that meant looking out his passport.
He recalled: "As a coach I was looking for a new challenge, fresh knowledge and that exposure to different environments.
"The seed had been planted in 2015 when I visited Barcelona to attend an elite youth tournament that included all the top La Liga teams youth squads as well as other top European youth academies like Ajax and AC Milan.
"I was a guest of WOSPAC and Segunda Division club UE Cornella who recently knocked La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid out of the Copa Del Rey.
"I had been travelling throughout Europe visiting many youth academies such as Southampton, Fulham and Feyenoord.
"The experience and knowledge gained gave me a clear picture of how different clubs functioned efficiently to fulfil their players' needs.
"I saw what they were doing there with the players and I just thought: 'We have to get our act together in Trinidad.'
"Three years later I went full-time into coaching."
Pro Series Events launched their first competitive teams in 2019 and their Under-12s made the National Finals in the first year.
Then their youth Pro League team was second in the league and Cup finalists and everyone in Trinidad and Tobago started to take notice of the skilful players Decle's Futsal culture is helping to develop.
For Paul it was time for the next step in his coaching journey and that meant Europe and the quest to land his UEFA B Licence.
He reasoned: "I wanted to develop and elevate myself and do it through the Northern Ireland FA. That pathway has been tremendous for me.
"I had a fantastic experience in Northern Ireland and I am happy I achieved my UEFA B there, it was worth every cent and more.
"We have a lot less resources here in Trinidad and Tobago so I feel I have to be educated in new ways to help me do things locally.
"I have travelled and studied in Spain and Holland. You soak in the knowledge and you realise that we have this impression that it is all about the fancy facilities.
"In truth the main thing that they have is great COACHES.
"That's one of the things that kept pushing me, I have knowledge now that I can put into a framework and help the players to have a better structure to come through."
For the next month Decle's sole focus will be on helping T&T in their bid to come out of the CONCACAF Futsal World Cup qualifiers to make the Finals.
The team's first step sees them travel to Costa Rica where they will play two practice matches against their national Futsal team who are ranked #1 in the tournament and in CONCACAF.
Then they move onto Guatemala City to face the hosts Guatemala and the Dominican Republic in the group stages.
The goal is to achieve a spot in the quarter-finals and win that showdown as all four semi-finalists will qualify for the World Cup in Lithuania in September.
Sport Careers Agency will keep you up to date in Client News on how they fare.
When he returns Paul will take time to plot the next steps in his coaching journey.
He reflected: "My organisation has grown rapidly and we are visibly seeing improvement in the players.
"The parents are seeing improvements in the kids on the field and OFF it.
"We don't have big stadiums and professional leagues here so we have to work on creating a stimulus to inspire our players.
"My personal ambition is to continue coaching at the national level either at home or abroad or seek opportunities at the professional level abroad.
"I have now worked at all levels from youth up to senior men as well as women at Under-18.
"I have done work with Downs Syndrome and autistic kids. A very fulfilling experience to this point.
"All of the knowledge I have gained continues to fuel my passion to learn and to be continuously challenged.
"I hope to complete the UEFA A Licence in the near future back in Belfast at the IFA. A lot of sacrifice goes into achieving and working at this level.
"I want to work with the highest possible level I can which might mean America for me in time.
"I never thought my ambition would change but I am highly motivated to do a fantastic job this time in Guatemala because I know that can help with the next step."
PAUL DECLE ON THE SERVICE HE RECEIVED FROM SPORT CAREERS AGENCY
"At this point in my career even just putting my CV down on paper the way Sport Careers did helped me see just how much I had achieved.
"Every time I send that CV out to someone I know they are extremely impressed with the professionalism.
"Immediately they open it they say: "Wow, who did this for you?"
"That by itself in this industry - or any profession - gives you that extra little boost. The first impression it gives people of you is second to none.
"Their online presence is first-class and I can online say good things about Sport Careers Agency."