Nabil has played football all his life: at school, on the streets and at a Syrian football club. He has good technical qualities. In Luxembourg his father has arranged a place at a club for him.
Nabil: I love football and when we left Aleppo I really missed my football friends on the street. I was happy to start with a new club and my father told me that I am a good player and the coach would see that too. All I had to do is listen to him. The coach asked what position I like to play and then told me “OK, that’s fine, just play there”. And that was it. He just stood on the side with his arms crossed. And while there was no instruction from the coach, my teammates criticized each other and me a lot. They yell and scream at each other all the time, it really hurt. I love football but this is no fun!
Nabil is a player with great individual skills. Better than most team mates. He doesn’t need much coaching from me, because the players in the field can tell each other what to do. However, sometimes Nabil seems to give up, it seems as if he can’t take any criticism!
Nabil was used to get specific instructions from his father, his teachers, the coach, etc. To him, the coach is the boss and has to instruct the players and the team. So Nabil waited for him and looked over to the coach to see if he missed something. Yet the coach was quiet and allowed the players in the field to “coach” each other, which often were blunt and painful comments. The coach wants players to show initiative in the field because he believes he cannot anticipate every situation. He wants players to “think on their feet”, and to help each other. In reality, the “help” that players give each other is not meant to be painful.
What are possible solutions?
It is wise for Nabil to be open to the comments from his team mates and listen to them as
directions, which are not meant to be harsh or insulting. He might also try to express his own
thoughts as well. The coach should understand that Nabil is used to directive coaching and
explain how he coaches (and why): this explanation will make it clear to Nabil.
Luxembourg is an egalitarian and a very individualist culture. (PDI – and IDV +).
Everyone can give feedback to the other and the Luxembourger want to keep their teammates “sharp”, i.e. focused to get a better team result. The criticism is not intended to be personal or painful.
Adapting to the relative directness in Luxembourg is a major challenge for immigrants. They often take it as a personal insult, while the Luxembourgers/the other residents believe that their “honesty” (i.e. directness/bluntness) is the best way to help others.