On 1 January 2020, Unibet, became the main sponsor of Allsvenskan, men’s highest football league in Sweden, as well as Superettan (second highest). One of the main projects within the sponsorship is Unicoach, which is a long-term programme that will develop the future of Swedish football.
Extra focus in this programme will be put on people who play the most important role in young players’ development – the coaches. Football trainers will get a dedicated advisor, or as we call it a “coach for the coaches”, that will support them. They will get more education and a completely new digital platform for co-operation and sharing of best practices. Through Unicoach, we will support those coaches out on the football field in the rain and snow, windy days and sunny days, weekdays and weekends; doing their best and giving their all.
We asked Per Carlander, Country manager, Sweden to share his thoughts on this special project.
Importance of a great coach
I think most of us have had a coach or a teacher when we grew up that meant that little bit extra to us. When you are young you don't reflect on this too much, but when you grow older you realise what major influence a youth coach has on you as a player and as a person. I had a fantastic coach between the ages of 7-15 who have really shaped who I am today. He had a tremendous ability to see every one of us as individuals with different needs to develop. He created a fantastic environment for development where everyone dared to challenge themselves and was not afraid to fail. On top of that, he was a great role model and preached the team spirit and winner mentality that shaped many great players and persons.
When we signed the deal with Swedish Elite Football (SEF), we wanted to put more focus on the coaches and leaders that educate and shape the players of tomorrow, so we launched Unicoach. Unicoach is Unibet's and SEFs long-term joint venture that develops the players of the future together with the 32 clubs' academies. Through resources, education and leadership, we create the conditions for continued positive development for Swedish football. From 2020, Unibet will invest a total of SEK 15 million per year in the work with Unicoach.
Through Unicoach, the clubs get increased resources and new knowledge, to focus on those who have the greatest impact on the future football players in Sweden – youth coaches and leaders. The ambition is to give these key people even better opportunities in their everyday lives. Unicoach will create conditions for cooperation, networking and exchange of knowledge. It will contribute with new knowledge, insights and inspiration. Unicoach will focus on new areas, such as mental training and mental illness, areas that are important for the players on and off the field. Unicoach will also put the spotlight on and pay tribute to those who do the magic every day – youth coaches and leaders.
The vision is to jointly develop the Nordic region's best academies, create the future stars and secure the future of Swedish Elite Football.
The first season of Unicoach has been about building the structure and foundation for future growth. A full-time Academy Developer was hired at SEF, that will be a coach for the coaches in the clubs. A new enhanced model to evaluate the academies was also launched. The digitalisation of all processes was implemented, which means that coaches will have more time to focus on the players and can share best practices with other academies. And we saw some fantastic development among young players on the pitch in Allsvenskan and Superettan as well. A total of 157 players from the academies played in Allsvenskan and Superettan in 2020 and out of those, 102 players made their debuts!
We really look forward to many years to come with Unicoach and being a vital part of shaping the future stars of Swedish Elite Football.