In this exclusive Q&A session with NFA Marketing and Communications Officer, Nancy Halweendo, the latest addition to the Tafel Lager Brave Warriors’ technical team, Fabian Träger, shares his football journey, the mentors who influenced his approach, and the challenges he faces in his role.
He further discusses his aspirations for the team’s progress in the AFCON finals and the core values that drive him as a coach.
NH: What initially sparked your passion for football and video analysis; who were the mentors or figures that significantly influenced your approach to football, and why?
FT: My love for football began when I was 5 years old. I have been involved in various football areas, and was an active player until I was 21 years old. By then, I realized that I would not become a professional footballerand took the decision to become a coach.
During my time as a coach, various personalities naturally influenced me, however, I would like to single out Sepp Steinberger, a former coaching colleague of mine, from whom I was able to learn a lot.
NH: Walk us through your journey as a coach, leading up to your current role as the second assistant coach and video analyst of the Tafel Lager Brave Warriors?
FT: After realizing that I would not earn money as a player, I found myself enrolling for my first coaching license. During that time, my love for football grew stronger and it became more evident that I had made the right decision by transitioning from a player to coach.
I completed the coaching license and the UEFA-A license, as well as other certifications in match analysis in professional football, all while working as a youth coach at 1860 Munich in Germany. I later got a job as a scout for TSG Hoffenheim and thereafter, in 2021, moved to Colombia, South America, where I worked for a German youth academy, training under 17 youth, and supporting them in their quest to sign professional contracts.
NH: Do you feel you have evolved as a coach over the years, and in what way?
FT: Of course! You never stop learning! You improve as a coach everyday. I have gained vast knowledge on football and coaching, which has had a great impact on my development both as a coach and an individual.
NH: Balancing coaching duties and personal life can be challenging. How do you maintain this balance and stay focused on the team’s goals?
FT: That’s true!
I believe to keep a balance, you need a partner whounderstands and accepts that football is not a normal 9 to 5 job, which means compared to the average person, you will not have normal weekends and that at times, match results will highly influence your mood [laughs].
I am fortunate to have an understanding wife, and friends. They understand the sport without being part of the fraternity. Outside of football, they are my breath of fresh air [smiles].
NH: How has your previous experience with Coach Collin Benjamin influenced your coaching style and approach to working with the team?
FT: Well, Benjamin is a talent and the embodiment of an authentic leader.
What impressed me the most during our time of working together in Munich, is his equal approach and regard towards everyone, on and off the pitch. I consider that a vital trait for anyone wishing to successfully lead a group.
He also does not forget where he is from, which I too, consider important especially with a universal sport such as football. These and many more have in one way or the other, influenced my approach to coaching, and adapting in multi-national team environments.
NH: What is your observation of the collaborative dynamics within the BW team and how do you see each member’s strength contributing to the team’s success?
FT: It was noticeable from day one that there is good harmony among the technical staff. I felt comfortable right from the start and I really enjoy being part of this group.
Trust is the basis for success, and like the coach [Benjamin] always says to the players: “Left must know what right is doing”, an important principle that applies to the staff as well. Everyone is aware of their responsibilities, and they perform them as best as they can. This, I believe, is a great remedy for success.
NH: What challenges do you foresee in your new video analyst role with BW, and how do you plan to overcome them while contributing positively to the team’s success?
FT: Video analyzing is an important part of my daily life. I am convinced that emotions aside, video analyzing is and should be an essential tool in the progress of improving individualy, and as a group.
Yes, analyzing our opponents is equally important however, we need to analyze ourselves; training sessions and matches, get a better understanding of our strengths and shortcomings, before we can understand those of our opponents.
NH: What are your aspirations and goals for the team’s progress in the AFCON finals?
FT: We [Brave Warriors] are underdogs in this group [E] nonetheless, we are going to Ivory Coast with a mission!
Aware of the challenges, our aim is to proudly represent Namibia and show the continent that Namibia deserves to play amongst the illustrious teams of Africa.
NH: What core values or principles drive you, and how do you integrate them into your coaching role?
FT: Respect and collaboration!
I am an ambitious coach and team player. As a team, every member’s performance affects the team, so knowing one’s role and doing it, is not enough; it takes collective effort and cooperation to succeed.
To win as a team, we have to work as a team.
NH: Within this short-given time, how do you envision nurturing and developing the talent within the Brave Warriors’ squad to reach their full potential?
FT: Based on our two last encounters [World Cup Qualifiers] in November, I will say we have good quality to work with, but there is a demand for individual improvement.
Apart from work done on the pitch, I believe one-on-one talks with the players will work best. The exclusive exchange will familiarize me with each player and provide a better understanding of how best to assist each of them reach their full potential. Of Couse we do not have enough time before the AFCON tournament, but we have to improve as a team in this short period of time.
NH: What keeps you inspired and motivated as a coach, especially during challenging moments or setbacks?
FT: Football is a game with many coincidences. So with the principles and strategies I teach my players, I try to reduce the number of coincidences. Setbacks in the form of bad results are part of the process.We all love this game because of its uncertainty [laughs].
NH: Reflecting on the recent FIFA World Cup qualifiers matches, what were the key takeaways for the team, and how do you envision moving forward from both the victory and the loss?
FT: It is important to work hard even in difficult moments, and try to improve game ideas. With hard work, the results eventually start to show.
We have had team meetings with the players and numerous internal discussions as technical staff on the team’s previous encounters, dissecting our performance and revamping.
We have since moved past that and placed our focus on the challenge ahead.
NH: What would you say is the most fulfilling thing about being a coach and video analyst?
FT: Doing what I love is a joy I can not explain! It is most fulfilling to watch the transformative process on the pitch, for individual players, and collectively as a team.
NH: How do you see your role contributing to the team’s overall performance and development, especially in light of upcoming AFCON finals in Ivory Coast?
FT: My main task is to assist Benjamin and Kanalelo in their task of turning the BW into a formidable opponent.
NH: Looking ahead, what legacy do you aim to leave behind during your tenure with the Brave Warriors?
FT: I am of the opinion that the first impression of someone is important, but even more important is what people think of them when they leave.
So with this, I hope that when I leave, I will be known as an honest team player who helped build on to the team!!