How George Haines prepared his teams for the championships – it takes you through the last three weeks before the big meet. Basic by today’s standards, but revolutionary for the time. Courtesy of Championship Swimming and the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
Presented by ASCA Hall of Fame Coach, Jack Simon.From the ASCA 2003 World Clinic in San Diego, California.
I should probably name this talk "where are you at now"? That seems to be the first comment out of most people's mouth every time I come back to an ASCA convention. I would like to take a couple of minutes here to introduce two of my current assistant coaches who don't speak English and are probably out with Roberto Strauss at the pool where there is translation, but I don't see them in here. David Harbach who is coaching is down here; David was one of my first swimmers back in Florida. John Hayman who is the current coach at the University of Delaware, swam for me at Westchester. Eric Landen swam for me at Cincinnati and is now the Head Age Group Coach at Cincinnati. Tim Murphy worked with me at Westchester, and was probably the best assistant coach I had in my entire career. I knew from the onset that he was going to be a great coach and I think he has proven that to you all because now he is the Head Coach at Harvard University. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Bill Rose for the opportunity to work with him at Mission Viejo. During that time I had the opportunity to work with some great athletes and also learn a lot from Bill. I had the opportunity one year to work with Paul Bergen. It was a tremendous experience to learn different coaching techniques and philosophies.
A young coach came up to me at the very beginning of this clinic and he asked me a few questions. The first question that he asked me was, "what is the best learning tool you have been able to use in your career?" and it really took me back. It took me about 30 seconds to even think about it, and I then said, "well I think it is my ability to listen and to watch the great coaches – Not only of the United States, but of the world, and that is how I started my career."Read More
Presented by ASCA Hall of Fame Coach, Jack Simon.
From the ASCA 2003 World Clinic in San Diego, California.
Thank you for coming. I told John I didn’t think there would be very many people coming to hear this talk, but he said, well, there will always be people that are interested in overseas positions and experiences, so here we go. You will have to give me just a second here because I am trying to organize these to work with the slides and they are disorganized.
Rule #1: Don’t be an American missionary. I think if you are ever going to take a foreign job the last thing you want to do is walk in there and say “I am an American and I know everything”. That is the quickest way to leave the country. So I think that you have got to – you have got to go in fairly easy, see what the landscape is so to speak, and then start off with the program. You are the example setter and how you do things in a foreign country is really how people will see you.
This is what I forgot to bring so I am going to have to wing it. Foreign contracts: I wrote an article about that, it should be in either an old magazine or I am sure Guy Edson or one of the ASCA staff can get that for you if you are interested. It is pretty much a common sense contract if you want to work overseas and I am sure there will be some things here that I remember. Before you decide to take a foreign coaching position I think it is absolutely imperative that #1 you research the country, research the culture, research all the people that you will be dealing with and I would do that before you accept a job. There are too many instances of people (I almost did this many, many years ago) who come walking in and all of a sudden you will be walking right back out again.
Thank you Ira. Much of this really depends on the country, but a lot of the opportunities that come up are in developing countries. Most of us call these third world countries. They would prefer “developing” so I think that is a key right there. Make sure you understand the culture. Again, that is part of the research because our culture and their cultures are entirely different and I think that is absolutely imperative.
Before you go into negotiations, before you even get there, before you ever sign a contract, sit down and make a wish list of the things that you want. Now I think this is important in any job. I don’t care whether it is here in the United States or wherever. Business people have taught me this. Before they negotiate – if they are offered a position or if they decide to seek another position – will sit down and they will write a list. Positives and negatives. What are the positives in taking this position? What are the positives in going to this country? What are the negatives? Take a few days to do that because ideas will pop into your head. Write all these things down in columns. Then if it balances out more on the negative forget it. Just throw the piece of paper away and say thanks, but no thanks, regardless of what job it is.
But if it balances out on the positive side and you make a decision to pursue this position then I think you need to put down your negotiation list. List everything that you want and then in the next list put down everything that you will accept. In other words you will probably start out with a wish list of 30 to 40 different things and you might be willing to accept 80% of that. You should be willing to not accept – to just say, I am sorry, but this is my wish list and that is all there is to it. It depends on your economic situation at that point, your job situation, whether or not you really want it. Many different things come into play.
Back to the research. Completely understand the politics of the country you are negotiating with. I didn’t put this in my talk but it is a little bit humorous- but have a suitcase packed if you take a foreign job. Just keep emergency items there, especially in a developing country with sometimes unstable political situations. Keep a bag packed and always have a ticket available, an open ticket because sometime you might have to run.
Steve Betts was in Kuwait when the Iraqis attacked. He sat, according to directions from the consulate, he sat in is house and waited and waited for the consulate to call back. Well if you have ever worked for/with American embassies around the world you will understand that their bureaucracy is probably worse than the Mexican bureaucracy and that is hard to beat. They never called him back and when he started seeing tanks on the horizon he jumped in his car and ran for the border.
He was on his way out, out of the refrigerator he grabbed a six pack of Pepsi, threw it in his car and was able to make his way around one Iraqi checkpoint, but he couldn’t get around the next one which was close to the Saudi border. So he came up and the 16 year old was standing there with a machine gun pointed at his face and of course he didn’t speak Iraqi, and the Iraqi did not speak English. He is trying to say you go back and Steve reaches down and he grabs a Pepsi, puts it in his hand and floors it and goes right through the checkpoint and makes his way into Saudi Arabia.
Pepsi finds out about it and they meet him with a red carpet treatment in New York City, he goes on the Today show and they fly him first class back to Seattle. So the point was, be ready to run. In your research, one of the things that you can use is the US State department. They are not always as thorough as they could be, but in some cases, in fact, in most cases I think they are pretty right on. There are usually warnings that come out periodically, sometimes weekly, depending on the country so it is a good idea to jump on their web site and check that out.
Health factors – very important. You want to make sure that you have fairly good medical access when you take a foreign job, so that is another thing to research.
When you go into contract negotiations I would (and again this is really dependent on the person and dependent on what you want to do) use a lawyer to look at my contract. A lawyer that was licensed within the country because that person, chances are, will know the culture and know the ins and outs of the law. Using an American lawyer to write a contract for some developing country would be like whistling in the wind.
Under no circumstances accept a job in the country without a work permit and that one is very, very, very important. Because all the promises in the world will not do you any good, okay? You walk in there without a work permit and they decide not to pay you, again you had better have that ticket to be able to turn right around. The next one again is really dependent on you and their desire to bring you to coach their team. Do not, under any circumstances accept a contract that does not pay you for the term of your contract. I don’t care whether that is in a foreign country or here in the United States. As a lawyer told me many years ago when he was doing a contract for me in Canada and I said “there is no disillusion clause in there.” He said “Jack, if there is a disillusion clause in there, that is not a contract.” He is absolutely right. You make a contract for the period of years that year old wish the contract and that includes your remuneration for that period of time. If it is five years it is five years and so if you leave they need to pay you off. I mean, if you leave voluntarily, obviously you leave voluntarily and you give up your income. However, if they decide , like most professional coaches, to fire you and you are there on a five year contract and you have two years left, they owe you two years of salary. If you have a disillusion clause in there, like most coaches do, with 90 days or in some cases 30 days, you are in trouble. It is pretty hard to find a job in thirty days. If you are single and carefree you don’t care, but if you are married and have a family, you have a problem.
Make sure your coaching philosophy fits the culture of the country you will be coaching in. This is very important. There is a coach who doesn’t happen to be here at this clinic right now who has coached in a number of foreign countries, he was coaching in Kuwait well after the war with Steve, and after Steve left. He said I am really struggling. He says if I can get them to three practices a week I am lucky. He says they are the laziest people I have ever dealt with and these are sons of princes and sheiks. They have more money than you and I will ever dream to have and he says, but they are paying my housing, they are giving me a car and they are paying me $60,000 a year tax free. I can handle it.
You have got to have that mentality, okay? I don’t – I couldn’t handle a job like that and so it is important that you understand what you are getting into before you take a position. Certain situations you can force kids to come to meet the requirements of your program and in other places you are just not going to be able to do it. So understand the culture, make sure your philosophy will fit in. Make sure you can handle it.
Married with children – I think that is extremely important. Make sure that you have housing, schooling if there is an American school, or an international school of some kind. Going back to Steve Betts, he is in Bancock. He and his wife teach at the international school there. They make a tremendous living. They are supplied housing and everything else and he coaches a little team there in Bancock at the international school. He loves it, but he is well taken care of because he is working for the international school. He is not working for the Tai government or a group of people in Thailand. That is part of your negotiation.
I want to go back to the professionalism that is necessary when you go into a foreign country and again I think this is true in any job. Remember in some cases in a foreign country you may be one of the very few Americans or even white people there so remember that and remember you are being watched. If you go to an Arabian country and you like to drink I would strongly suggest that you do it in the closet and I mean that almost figuratively, okay?
Tim Murphy, after Tim left our program he took a job through – I forgot the name of the institute in Mobile, the US Sports Academy, and he went over there and what was it Tim? Within two months there was a public beheading in the square? They were not allowed to watch, but you know I don’t think I would want to watch either. I struggle watching a chicken getting its head cut off. They are very, very strict on alcohol until they get out of the country and then they drink like fishes. Within the country if you are a European or an American and you want a beer, you have to #1 smuggle it in and #2, hide it and just stay away.
Some of the other Arab countries like Bahrain’s is a little more liberal, but you have to be careful. The last thing you want to do, regardless of the country, is to walk into a workout the next day and you have booze on your breath or on your clothes or anything else. Again, you are being watched and you have to be ultra professional in these countries. If you are a single male you had better understand the culture of the females and the culture that you are dealing with. You may be thinking that you are talking to an American woman and say some things that you would like to say and all of a sudden find yourself in a big problem. So again, it all comes back to your research and how you handle things. Some of the simplest actions that we do here in the united states can be taken way out of context in another country so be careful, be professional. Okay?
Work permit, coaching philosophy – we have already talked about. The IOC Solidarity Fund and I, (quite frankly, I haven’t been as active here in the last six or seven years to know exactly what they are doing these days), but I have taken some trips with the Solidarity Fund and it is a good contact organization. United States Swimming can put you in touch with them. Sometimes they have short-term trips – a month – three weeks, sometimes they will know of situations that are good – either short-term, sometimes long-term situations that you might be interested in.
Sometimes the state department, and again I have forgotten the agency because the state department dropped the agency. A lot of our covert people were underneath this agency, I wasn’t one of them, but I have taken a few trips with this particular agency. The agency no longer exists within the state department, but I am sure that through the state department there is that opportunity.
United states swimming occasionally gets requests from foreign countries, and the ASCA gets requests from foreign countries. If you are really interested I would stay in touch with all of those particular agencies. There is a job in Egypt right now, I have no idea where it is. Personally, I don’t think that is the place that I would want to be right now, but a bunch of it would be determined by how much they want to pay. Years ago I was offered a position, again, through the State Department to go to Alexandria. They were going to host (I think it was) the East African Games in Alexandria and my job would have been to coordinate all the aquatic venues, etc., etc, etc. I turned the job down. There just wasn’t enough money involved and you know while Alexandria is a beautiful place, the income just did not meet my goals.
So anyway, those are agencies that you can use, State Department – let me try to get my notes out here. Coaching in a – I am not sure whether – oh, gas allowance. Make sure that is part of your contract, okay? Gas can be all over the map. Most of the gas prices are in liters in foreign countries, but it might work out when you get there at $1.40 or $1.50 a gallon and six months later it might be $2.50 a gallon; so the best thing to do is get some type of a gas allowance. In my current contract in Mexico they gave me $30 a week and that is more than sufficient. They just give me a chit, I go to the gas station and fill it up so it is fairly easy and it is fairly common in foreign contracts.
Obviously if you can get your housing put in there, that is the best thing to do. The other thing on salary is how they are going to pay it. An example, in my situation right now, part of my job is with the government and I have just taken on more responsibility with one of the largest private clubs in Mexico. So I don’t pay any taxes with my government salary. On the other side of the coin, being a private club they couldn’t offer that, so I basically got them to pick up my living costs and some of my automobile expenses so that the taxation on what is left is minimal. The less you can have with paying taxes in a foreign country the better off you are.
Again, people who are born and raised there and grow up in the system understand. People who are foreign to that particular culture do not understand it and it can be very, very, very difficult so the more you can get without having to go through problems, the better you are.
In your contract, make sure you have a re-negotiation clause which brings me back to something I should have said earlier. I think it is a mistake to take a foreign job knowing that you are just coming right back to the United States and that you are just in between jobs. I think that is a mistake for you professionally and I think that is a mistake for the country; because, you are going to throw your ideas out, a year later you are going to leave and you are going to leave a lot of unhappy people behind you.
I can remember years ago, Bill Rose was the head coach of Pacific Dolphin. Bill had not been there that long, but he had done a tremendous job with his team. The Arizona State job came up. Bill applied, he got the job and boom he was gone. There are Canadian coaches still talking him down – still to this day and that was back in the 70’s and so that is what happens.
You go, you leave and it is a problem. So go with an attitude that you are going to be there for four or five or six years at least and make it a great cultural opportunity to do that. Don’t just go in and throw your weight around a little bit and then “whee”, off we go. You might think that helps you but the reality of it is it doesn’t. So, I would be real cautious about that.
Renegotiation clause, obviously if you are on your way out you don’t need that, but I think that is very important in any contract. My rule of thumb is six months before the termination of the contract. You might, depending on circumstances, even want to put that renegotiation clause in a year early. If you are on a 5 year contract have that clause written in at four years so that you can renegotiate. If you are going to have a renegotiation clause you should have the salary for the next period built into your original contract. So if you are making $50,000 a year for a period of five years that is $250,000, okay? Say you want the salary to increase in your renegotiation clause for a three year contract at $60,000, you want $180,000 built right into that renegotiation clause. If they decide not to accept it you have a year left on your contract and a year to find another position. All professional sports coaches do this. I cant speak for collegiate coaches, but I would think that the vast majority of them do, most certainly the football coaches. Because if they are not winning, they are out and they need to protect their families and everyone else. So again, I think that is very important.
Try, as I said, to get your salary tax free. If you are working for a foreign government chances are pretty good that that can work. If you are working for a real developing country and you are working for another agency it can probably work too, not legally, but it can work. in some cases they will pay you in cash. They will just make sure that once or twice a month they will give you your salary in cash.
Which brings me to another point: make sure that your salary and your contract is in United Sates dollars – not in the currency of the country. The currency of the country can reevaluate at any point in time and if there is a devaluation of their currency and you are on that particular currency you could be flat out broke. So keep it to United States dollars. My contract is in United States dollars, but I get paid in pesos. So the fluctuation of the dollar within the Mexican peso right now it is up to 11; 11 pesos for a dollar which is pretty good. I got a nice 10% increase in salary. I cant remember for sure – it is either 80 or 90K; which is tax free in the United States. If you are going to take a foreign position, you need to understand what the rules are at that particular time and stay in touch through the IRS web page to find out if there are any changes in those rules. You need to file income tax when you are abroad. You need to file your foreign income you have got tax free. I think it is at the very least $80,000 dollars a year tax free in foreign income. That is if you are in the country for a year. You have got to be in the country for one year to be able to qualify for that exemption; so again, it is just important to know all these things.
Housing: you have the final say. Have them put you up in a hotel until you can find a place. If they are going to pay for it, it doesn’t make any difference. You still want the final say on where you are going to live because you want to be uncomfortable. Unless you have traveled extensively and spent time in countries it is going to be difficult for the first two or three months so you most certainly want to be comfortable. If it’s like most places in the world today, even the developing countries will have cable, they have electricity and they have flush toilets, etc.
Make sure that your house is furnished or that they are going to pay for your furniture, cable, television so forth and so on. I put down there a car with driver or bodyguard. Some people will laugh at that, but in Columbia last year there were 5,000 kidnappings so in some situations you might want that. I spent a year in Manila and I wished like heck I accepted their offer for a driver. After about two months there I was going, oh boy, do I wish I had one now because the traffic was just nightmarish and most developing countries do not have rules. Here we stop at a stop sign or we risk being caught and we have to pay a ticket. In many countries if you do something that somebody thinks might be wrong, you have to pay a bribe. So, again its sometimes easier to have someone else driving for you.
Most certainly if you are on a short term contract to do clinics or help to redevelop a program for three to six months that would probably be the best time to have a driver because you are not going to have time to really learn the city, the ins and outs and all the rules and everything else that goes along with it. If you do drive and you do have a car there, make sure that you are covered by what ever insurance policy they have there in that particular country. You will need to buy that insurance in country, there is nobody here in the United States that is crazy enough to do that.
A Housekeeper: Most developing countries and in Asian countries it is almost expected that you will have one. You are sort of there to help the economy of that particular country and normally domestic help is very inexpensive, but it helps the economy. It helps put food on their table so I think that is important.
If you can negotiate a country club membership or a yacht club membership try to do it because you will meet more ex-patriots in that kind of a situation than you will elsewhere. Remember, there you are an American coaching in a foreign country. Who are you dealing with? You are dealing with the people of that country. You are dealing with parents, with government, but they are all members of that particular society. There is a lot of good in that, but sometimes you go stir crazy and you want to speak English and you want to talk to another American. You want to talk football, baseball, whatever it happens to be; so you need to find where the ex-patriot community is. Trust me, they are in every country in the world, but some times locating them is not the easiest thing.
The ticket home, again, have an open ticket home. I cannot stress that enough. Life and death are equal. It is a reality and none of us like it, but if you are going to a foreign country, make sure you have your last will and testament taken care of before you go. Make sure that you register. Make sure that you register with either an embassy or a US Consulate. There are not embassies in every city by the way, there is usually a Consulate. If you are in any major city there is usually a Consulate available. The embassy is usually in the Capital. As an example we have a Consulate in Guadalajara; the embassy is in Mexico City. Register your last will and testament with the embassy. #1 Register with the embassy, but also register your last will and testaments so that if you die and they are contacted they know who to call, etc, etc, etc.
On that gruesome note, our foreign swimmer is different. Some of then are a different color than we are. Some of them are of different structures and their body types are different than some of our kids , etc, etc, etc. But are they different in terms of training? Yes and no. I think that is really determined by you as the coach and how you handle it. Again, going back to the Kuwait situation or Saudi situation, there are coaches that have gone into Saudi Arabia and they just go stir crazy because they just can’t get these kids to come to practice. Tim went over there and he got the kids to come to practice; so a lot of it is really dependent on you, your personality, your principles, and how you handle it. Is it going to be easy depending on the culture? NO.
Just a little bit of humor: The first meeting I had with all the parents and all my assistant coaches and all the swimmers in our selection program I sat down and the first words out of my mouth were – your culture will change. You used to have a Mexican culture and now you have a Jack Simon culture. The kids just roared, the parents were taken back a little bit and I just went on and I explained a little bit of what I meant. For example, the Mexicans love to eat at 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock at night. Well, we all know that swimmers are not going to eat at 9 or 10 o’clock at night and be up at 4:30 the next morning so we explained that. The Mexican culture eats lunch at 3 o’clock and we are in practice at 3 o’clock; so you need to change your eating habits. We went through all that process and by that time everybody is going up and down and nodding and saying yes. I said and the second rule or the second change in your culture is you will be on time. We got a little laugh on that one. You have got to structure things according to how you see them within the country and your personality, but as far as I am concerned, no they are not different.
People tell me today in American society that kids are different; that they don’t want to work as hard, that they don’t want to do this and everything else. I personally think that is a bunch of BS. I just think it is the coaches who are the ones who have accepted a lot of that nonsense; who don’t step up and say we are going to work and these are the ground rules and these are the reasons for it. If you accept that the people who have changed are the parents then you have compromised your principles and if you compromise your principles well then there are a lot of other jobs.
The Language: before you go to another country that speaks a different language I would strongly suggest that you go and buy some Berlitz tapes or some form of language development. Put your earphones on and at least get to the point where you can say hello. If you can speak the language when you go in, even if it is just a little bit, they are going to be impressed with you because they know you are trying, okay? The French are outrageous! When an American tourist comes in trying to speak in English a lot of Frenchmen will just turn their backs and walk away. But, if you try to speak French, they will help you. Language is part of culture and you’ve got to accept that. If you are interested in a country that speaks a language other than English I think you have to learn a little bit before you go and when you are there, take every opportunity to learn. I tell my swimmers in Mexico that there is only one way to learn English and that is speak it. I mean, two of my favorite Mexican coaches are seated here right now and they can tell you when I first got there I was stumbling all over the place; but I kept speaking Spanish, I kept making mistakes, I kept correcting it, and now I can handle the language pretty fluently. You cannot sit there and speak in English all day long and ever expect to learn the language or the culture; so make sure that that is part of your mental process before you take a job.
Going back to the research – understand International Politics and understand it clearly. If you don’t you could get caught in a big mess. Understand how the federation works. Know who the federation president is. Understand his politics. Understand how the government works with sports. Understand how your local association, if there is one, works. Be prepared to see and hear things that you never thought possible in a sport. I know that sounds a little bit negative, but it isn’t, because it is reality. While the foreign coaching experience can be a tremendous opportunity and you can do a lot of good, there are aspects of it that you have got to be prepared for.
Coaching at international competitions: in some cases a foreign coach comes into a country and they will automatically be put with the national team. In other cases you won’t. You can be working in a club situation and you might have athletes who are going to compete internationally. The first thing you really need to do is to understand the internal politics. You have got to find out if you are not going to be the head coach, who is the head coach. Who are my assistant coaches? Who are they? Meet these people. Talk to them. Take them out to dinner. Have a beer with them, however, NOT in Saudi Arabia, and really try to get into these people so that you can understand #1 where they are coming from and #2 they can start to learn more about you. You can have a much greater impact doing it that way than not doing it. In many developing countries you will have the president of the federation who thinks he is the coach and so they will stand up there and they will give the yeah, rah, rah to the swimmers. In these cases you just have to step back and smile you know and wait for your opportunity to talk. Again, depending on the situation, try to keep it low key. Try to keep it motivational and you
will be a lot safer that way.
I just came back from Korea, the World university games, and of course I am coaching a Korean boy who just happens to be the best swimmer in Korea. The president of the Korean federation, and this is not an exaggeration, it is well known that the president of the federation is mafia and nobody wants to mess with him. So, again – you really need to know who the people are and if there is any way shape or form to get to know these people better, take it. There will be jealousy from a lot of coaches. There will be jealousy from people who are in political positions. Not all the time, but be prepared for that and be prepared, at least initially, to feel like “whew, man – where am i?” If you can get through that, generally you are going to have a great experience when you get there. Cultural differences in the world are absolutely phenomenal and to me that makes life interesting. Diets are different. Cuisine is different. People talk differently in different parts of the country. It is the same here in the united states. People in west Virginia don’t talk like Californians. People in florida don’t talk like people in Michigan. We can go on and on and on. We all understand that. There are slight cultural differences that go on in different regions of the country, for example the difference in our country between Hispanic, white, black, or asian. There are many differences within our own structure here so you can just imagine the differences in other countries. As long as you are prepared for that and you really see that as an enjoyable situation then I would encourage you to go after a job in a foreign country. But if you are not prepared to accept a lot of the things that I mentioned in this talk then I would say stay here. Don’t put yourself in a miserable situation.
I think I have covered just about everything so we have a few minutes left for some questions. Well, this wouldn’t apply to coaching, but Chris Martin just told me – escapeamerica.com and then go to the employment section of that particular web page and in it go ……. Foreign employment in that particular web page. Yes, www.escapeamerica.com. You might have to do a Google search. As I recall when I looked at it when we were in Korea, Chris had told me they thought it was just a hilarious page and I typed in www.escapeamerica.com and nothing came up. So then I went and searched it and sure enough, it popped up but it has a whole bunch of links attached to it.
There are other periodicals that come out – sometimes just in the newspaper you will see overseas jobs and a lot of that is just a book. You know, they will send you the book and there is a lot of information in there.
If you are interested for example to go to Peru – what do you want to know? Well you want to know #1, what the cost of living is. People would say, as an example, Ecuador you know it is a latin country so therefore it is real inexpensive and you can really live well there on $40,000 a year. But Ketos is one of the most expensive cities in the world and if you don’t research it you are going to find yourself hurting six months after you are there on $40,000 a year. I think that it is absolutely imperative that that research goes in before you ever decide to take a job.
Q. What would you suggest for starting the research process?
For a job or for information on the country? – A job. – Well, I don’t think you are going to find much on the web in swimming coaching. So I would strongly suggest, as I stated earlier, that the agencies such as Solidarity ……., the state department, United States swimming and ASCA would be the places to really look. The other way, if you are interested in something and you want to get out of the country, just get a list from FINA of all the federation presidents. Write them a letter, send a resume, and say you are really interested in living in your country and are there any positions available? Ray: Basically on the same line, FINA ……. Doesn’t really get involved ….. If they do it is by accident but FINA controls all the federations in the world so maybe that is another place to go if you want. I would think FINA of all of them would be the most difficult to get any information from; I mean, they cannot even drug test.
Q. Has it been your experience…?
Well, I am real fortunate because I don’t deal with parents. I think most people that I have talked to, if they handle the communication right, don’t have any problem at all. I think it is like any place, you have got to communicate. You have to explain the program and if you do that I think overall you won’t have much of a problem. That is part of the research. I mean, what are you walking into? If you are walking into a private club that is a country club (there is a job in a country club in Keyto, Ecuador right now) what are you facing? Who are you working for? What influence does the membership have? Not just parents – those are all things that you have to look into. Overall, any experience I have had with adults has been fairly positive. I think if you are going into a foreign country and they are bringing you in from this country they probably have a fair amount of respect for us. You have to capitalize on that and maintain the professionalism, as I mentioned earlier, and from there you will do pretty well with them. I cant say that there is never going to be a problem parent. That would be utopia – but I think overall any of the coaches that I have talked to who have been in other countries have never had much of a problem. They are not as aggressive as Americans.
Yes sir: What is the level of competition – do a lot of people….? It depends on the job. Yeah, there have been some cases – 15, 20, 25 people who have applied for it. I have been through now two positions, by the way, and one of those was filled and the other one we are putting on hold. I have been through about 30 different resumes. If it is a job in Ethiopia there probably not going to be a lot of people seeking it. The other thing when you mention competition – remember that there are a lot of other coaches in the world. A lot of the guys that were coaching in East Germany couldn’t find jobs so they are out there in the world coaching foreign teams. A lot of Russians have moved outside of Russia to coach in foreign countries. Chinese – at …… which we have 43 sports, we now have 13 Cuban coaches, 11 or 12 Chinese coaches that work for us. The way a foreign country looks at it is that they can pay a Chinese coach to come in at $10,000 a year and it is going to cost them $50,000 a year to get you. So you have to realize that that is part of the competitive nature of world coaching today. It doesn’t mean that you cannot get a job, it just means that you have to understand that. I think overall most of them would prefer to have somebody from this country or from Canada, but that is not always the case.
Any other questions? Those of you who are thinking about it, I would encourage you to consider it. I mean, even with all the things that I said up there I still love Mexico. I love living in Mexico. I like the people in Mexico. I like the culture in Mexico, I love the tequila, and the women are beautiful. It can be a tremendous experience for you and if you contract yourself right it can be a good living experience in terms of your future income.
Q. How is the interview process, people you work with?
Remember, I stated put your wish list down. That is important because after the first phone call with these people, that may change. Generally speaking, sometimes it can be handled over the phone, or through email, or sometimes through faxes, etc. If you can get them to fly you over there for the interview, do it. That is in your best interest, but before you do that, please make sure that you are really interested in the job. Okay? Because it doesn’t help us or the rest of the coaches in this country if you just fly over there and don’t take it seriously and then you fly back and you say no, I don’t want the job. Handle most of the negotiation ahead of time and then if you can get over there, that is great.
I had an opportunity many, many years ago – they offered me – darn near the moon to go to Japan – after the Olympic games in 1972. I was excited. They just had a gold medallist in 1972 in the 200 meter breaststroke. They had some developing kids and so forth. Most of my contract negotiations were with the secretary of this multibillionaire Mr. Fujeka, that happens to ba a name that some of you might know. He has since died. He had an empire. He had places in Brazil and all over the world. The negotiation was between his secretary and myself and there was a little bit of language difficulty, but I was really excited about the possibilities. It would have been in Hiroshima and they had promised me a house, a car, three trips out of the country every year, (this was 1972) and $60,000 a year tax free. You can judge by that. We got to Miami and where the owner was coming in from Brazil, Mr. Fujeka. We met in one of the first class lounges there to finalize the contract. I am drawing a blank on the breaststroker – anybody here remember 1972 gold medallist from Japan?? Anyway, I said I was really looking forward to working with whatever his name was – Tahuchi – yeah. And Mr. Fujeka said, ahhhhhhhh no, Tahuchi I coach. You freestyle coach. This was not what I was led to believe. I was led to believe I was going in there as the head coach of the male team – the male Japanese team and if my ego had not been so strong, I would have taken it. I had been in Japan a number of times before that, I knew the country, the egos, and I just said, “whoops!” They said, well you come over, you come over and we can talk more. I politely said thank you very much but no thank you. I mean, it would have been a great trip to Hiroshima, but I turned that down knowing that I was not going to take that type of position. I think that is important.
Okay, thank you very much.
From a talk given by Dr. James Counsilman at Montreal, 1971.
Condensed and Edited by Bob Ousley, Past Executive Director, ASCA).
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