SINGAPORE – In a bid to drive youth development in Singapore football, Albirex Niigata are setting up what is touted as a first-of-its-kind department of methodology led by director Marcal Trulls.
The 39-year-old Spaniard has been appointed its head of youth development and will also take over as head coach of the centre of excellence Under-17 team.
Trulls is a licensed coach from the Ekkono Soccer School Barcelona and holds a Uefa “A” coaching certificate. He was previously assistant manager of the Oman and Brunei national teams, as well as Indian Super League side East Bengal.
Albirex general manager Koh Mui Tee said: “He has a heavy task of influencing the next generation of players in Singapore and also educating our youth coaches about the Ekkono method, but we have full confidence in him.
“It is important for the coaches and players from our football academy to learn this method thoroughly so that it can become the club’s culture and identity.”
The ‘Ekkono’ method uses four pillars to help football clubs build their football identity and has been used in major European clubs such as Barcelona and Inter Milan.
Trulls is also a big believer in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a psychological approach that involves analysing strategies used by successful individuals and applying them to reach a personal goal. He completed a five-month course in February 2022 and describes it as a coaching tool for him to better connect with his players.
He said: “For me, this is something really, really important because through that connection, you can unlock the full potential of the person that you’re working by really empowering the other person. You can make anything possible.”
Noting that the programme is “all about relations”, he will work with the coaches to “more effectively bring those methodologies and those processes into the players”.
Through its four pillars of outcome orientation, rapport, flexibility and sensory acuity, NLP aims to use language to bring about changes in someone’s thoughts and behaviour.
Former Leicester City boss Brendan Rogers, is an advocate of NLP and has used it on his players, saying in Sky Sports that “it really opens your mind up to your communication with people... I studied it for quite a long time and I still feel the benefits of that”.
Similarly, Trulls wants to use NLP and the “Ekkono” method to improve his charges. He added: “I really believe in the Ekkono method because it matches with my personal values. Because for me, football is not just about winning or getting a result. Winning is not enough.
“Football is a way to achieve social transformation... Of course, we improve football, we improve players, we improve the level of football in Singapore. But we improve also as human beings.”