The creation a “football culture” is key to the long-term growth of football in any setting. The key question for those wanting to develop this culture is – How? Former Aldershot Town academy manager and Cook Islands national team manager Drew Sherman attempts to answer this question by looking at his own professional experiences and discusses the importance of “football culture”.

We hear on an increasingly regular basis about the importance of “football culture”, the need to create a “culture of excellence” when we aim to implement player development models, or how the impact of a “team’s culture” can enhance a group of good individuals to become a formidable team – as we’ve seen with Leicester City in the EPL or with Wales at Euro 2016. Countries with traditionally strong football cultures will be the bookmakers’ favourites at Russia 2018, Brazil will continue to produce world-class individuals and Italian teams will be tactically astute defensively. But if football culture is truly key to long-term success, what chance is there for emerging nations such as the USA or Australia? You need to ask why are China committing millions of pounds to attract the world’s best players to the country unless it impacts on the long-term football culture?

I’ve recently spent 18 months as Technical Director and National Manager of FIFA’s smallest country, the Cook Islands – a nation with just 12,000 inhabitants and absolutely no history in, and limited understanding of football. I fully believe that the creation of a “football culture” is key to the long-term growth of football within any nation, club or organisation. If we know what needs to be done, and we can see why – the key question for such countries is how?

When looking at my own recent experiences I can highlight three key lessons which I feel are essential to an emerging football nation and central to the development of a “club-centered model”. I feel many aspects are transferrable to any coach at any level who feels that creation of a strong culture is key to transforming their organisation.

  1. The unique culture that already exists has to be the starting point 

Anthropologist E.B Taylor defined culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Essentially it is a collection of ideas and behaviours of a particular people.

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Drew Sherman
Drew Sherman
Drew Sherman has worked for 10 years in professional coaching having been Academy Manager at two Football League clubs, Youth Development Coach at Southampton FC & Head Coach & Technical Director at Cook Islands Football Association.