April 10 2015
April 10 2015
A Welsh fitness guru and director of a ground-breaking university football academy has Servette up a treat for Swiss soccer fans.
Dr Adam Owen has helped guide Servette Geneva to the top of Switzerland’s Challenge League.
Adam, a Glyndŵr University alumnus and co-founder of the Glyndŵr Wrexham Football Academy (GWFA) is also having a major impact on the Welsh national side’s charge towards qualification for the European Championships.
He is still hands-on with the GWFA, and together with fellow director and former Liverpool striker Lee Jones is preparing to recruit another batch of students for next season, following the success of the current cohort which includes Wrexham FC captain Dean Keates and players from clubs including Manchester City, QPR, Burnley and Leicester City.
In past months his main focus as Head of Science and first team coach has been on taking Servette back up to the Swiss Super League, where it was a permanent fixture before being relegated to the third division in 2004/5 due to a cash crisis.
Now on a firm footing and fighting for promotion under manager Kevin Cooper, Adam – formerly a coach with Rangers and Celtic and assistant manager at Sheffield United - is confident the GWFA, Servette and Wales are all in for an exciting year.
“The job here at Servette is a good progression in my career as I assist the manager with the pitch-based technical, tactical and physical content as we work really closely together,” he said.
“We plan everything around how the manager wants to play (system and style) in and out of possession and we fit the key coaching elements to the sessions.
“We have seen some dramatic changes regarding the professional element to what goes on in terms of planning the day, the week, the month and how we organise the daily content to ensure every player knows what's required.
“The manager is really contemporary in his approach and fully understands the needs to manage players as individuals and therefore can get the best out of them. The progress we have made as a club so far has been great in terms of losing four experienced players at the end of the season and replacing them with four youth team players and pushing at the top of the league.”
He added: “Servette has a big reputation in Swiss football behind FC Basle and are well known on the European front from European Cup runs and fixtures over the years. The key is to make sure we keep implementing the manager’s philosophy and filling the 35,000 capacity stadium week in week out.”
Adam’s ambition while in Switzerland is to “implement the correct philosophy” and “develop the right environment” for players to become successful.
A lifelong Wrexham FC fan, the 34 year-old spent seven trophy-laden years at Ibrox before leaving for Sheffield United with David Weir in 2013.
After Weir’s exit, Adam spent weeks visiting top European clubs and set up the GWFA before returning to his first love – coaching.
“Obviously long term we are keen to take Servette back into the European Champions League and this is one of the key challenges I came out here for,” he said.
“Having been involved in the UEFA champions league nights with both Celtic and more recently Rangers this is why we work in this industry, to test ourselves against the best of the best.”
Adam added: “I’m still actively involved with the university academy as well and speak regularly to Lee and sports manager Anna-Marie Brown to see how the first intake are developing both academically and football wise.
“We’re currently going through the second year recruitment plan for next season and Barry Horne (Wrexham FC director) has been a massive advocate of developing the programme within the club as he also studied for a degree before going on to have a fantastic football career.
“To see a few of the lads being on the bench and in the squad shows that Wrexham FC and Glyndŵr University are benefiting from the scheme and are committed to work together long-term for the benefit of both institutions.”
Adam believes the players already in the system can go a long way given their dedication to the innovative football federation, which is backed by ambassador Michael Owen and allows footballers to study for a degree at Glyndŵr while training and playing for the Dragons or a feeder club based in the Welsh football league.
“Lee sees them on a day-to-day basis and is putting together academic and football progress reports to set goals and make sure they are progressing,” said Adam.
“Some may benefit by going on loan, some stay to train with Lee and some may be closer to the first team squad. In terms of the lads we recruited for the first intake I think they are of a really good standard both academically and footballing level.
“I certainly believe some of them are worthy of a place in the Wrexham FC squad. We had enquiries for a few of the lads from league clubs after they heard we had them here training as part of the scheme.
“We know not everyone is ready for the first team but I'm sure over time and the length of their degree, we will see more and more players being in and around the first team squad.”
And what of his own development? Adam sees himself in management one day, but for now is happy with his European journey.
“Based on the confidence I’ve gained and various experiences I've had, management does interest me,” he said.
“Having worked at such a young age with managers such as Gordon Strachan, Ally McCoist, Martin O’Neill and Walter Smith then management would probably be a natural progression.
“But right now I’m here on a three-year contract and Swiss football is great - it’s a great chance for me to continue my learning.”
For more on Glyndŵr Wrexham Football Academy, watch this: http://bit.ly/1yzojUH