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EXCLUSIVE: Inaugural Perth Glory youth team coach Gareth Naven says being in the dugout has changed some fundamental ways in which he approaches the game.
Naven, one of the Glory originals from the 1990s NSL era and a hugely respected club man, was an uncompromising defender and midfielder with a fierce will to win. Losing was never tolerated.
These days, it is an interesting exercise to adjust to the demands of coaching in the national youth league after so many years of success on the park.
"I have to be aware that my style...to not bring that into my coaching. Because it's not fair and it's not right," he told au.fourfourtwo.com after Glory lost 3-0 to Sydney on the weekend.
"Believe in your players and obviously be patient. Know that individuals are different in their ways and sometimes what I did in my playing career is not necessarily the right way to coach."
He added that he's learning other aspects of coaching as he seeks to get the best out of his talented group, which currently sits mid-table in the national youth league.
"I think you've got to trust your philosophy, and stick with it. Don't be too quick to change it," Naven added.
"I listen and try to get feedback from players, because you're trying to help them. And if you don't – if you switch off to them - it's a loss both ways for players and coach.
"The relationship is so important. It's a focus for the players and the players do like to win – but it's a different focus for the coach. Individually and collectively as a group you work on the players so my focus is a little different to theirs."
English-born Naven, 39, played six seasons for Perth from 1996 in the club's halcyon days of big crowds, cutting edge marketing and a winning mentality on and off the park.
These days he says the first team has turned the corner and is aware of the task at hand for a club yet to make an A-League finals series.
He said: "Everyone wants to be top of the league but for us we know what we have to do to get there.
"The first team have started to put some good performances together and are starting to look energetic and bright.
"And for our young boys in the youth team it's a good motivational tool to put pressure on the first team."