Christophe Berra is ready to dip his toe into coaching by helping teach kids a brand of football education he believes would have helped him enjoy an even better career.
The Hearts captain is launching Berra’s Box – a branch of Box Soccer – with his friend Kerr Dodds at World of Football at Marine Drive later this month.
While Berra, who remains a mainstay of the Scotland team, has no plans to hang up his boots any time soon, coaching has been of interest to him for some time. Having paid close attention to his former youth coach Darren Murray’s work with Box Soccer – the technical development training programme developed by former Hearts head coach Ian Cathro and currently owned by Jambos icon John Colquhoun – the 32-year-old is relishing the prospect of working with the next generation in his new venture.
“I’ve always wanted to get into coaching and my friend Kerr and Darren, my old coach when I was coming through at Hearts, run a Box Soccer franchise,” Berra explained. “It’s something I’ve been looking to get involved with for a while. Hearts have been using Box Soccer as well so I’ve been going up to the academy a few Tuesday nights with Darren (head of coach education at Hearts) to watch the youngsters using it.
“It’s not like a normal soccer school where it can be a lot of babysitting and playing games. Here you’re doing a lot of technical drills. The kids get so many touches of the ball and learn different movements and different turns. It’s all game specific – they’re working on their touch and their awareness, and that can only be a good thing for when they get older. They learn lots of aspects of the game I never learned as a youngster. I’ve had a good career, but the game’s adapting. I think if I had Box Soccer coaching when I was growing up – at five, six or seven years old, or maybe even younger, as it starts at two years old – I would have been a better player technically. From what I’ve seen, Box Soccer is the best soccer school around. They’ve got an extensive coach education programme and the coaches are mentored continually, so the standard is really high.”
Berra believes occasional coaching of school kids will stand him in good stead if he eventually becomes a coach in the professional game. “In time, I’d like to go into coaching long term but this is totally different from coaching a first team,” he said. “It’s very technical - it’s a different aspect of coaching. I believe if you can coach kids, you can coach adults, because coaching kids is probably harder. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing, but my focus first and foremost is still Hearts and my day-to-day responsibilities as captain. This is something on the side where I’ll go down every now and then and do some coaching when it doesn’t clash with my training or games.”
• Berra’s Box will host free taster sessions in association with World of Football at their new facility at Marine Drive on Friday January 19 (age 5 to 12) and Saturday January 20 (age 2 to 5). Limited spaces. Classes start in February, running on Friday and Saturday throughout the year. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Full details on Instagram @berrasbox and Facebook @Berrasbox