Damet: ‘It’s more than just football’

As every aspect of life changes during this pandemic, FC Cincinnati interim head coach Yoann Damet is trying to accomplish everything he can without being able to do his main job: coach.

Damet said he’s focused on keeping in contact with players, working on projects and moving FCC forward, even if that’s away from the field with the regular season on hiatus. 

“It’s more than just football, it’s more than just MLS,” Damet said about the current times. “It’s something that touches the entire world, so it goes further than just the league and what we want as a club. Of course, we would like (to play) sooner than later, but we also know that the safety of people is the most important thing.”

The Frenchman had a 25-minute conference call with local reporters on Thursday afternoon to share what he’s working on, and what he’d like to accomplish next. 

“The situation is humbling.”

“Our main goal as a sports organization, as coaches and as players, is to entertain people,” Damet said. “I think sports is one of the biggest sources of entertainment in the world, and …it’s been humbling to stay at home and be dealing with the same situation than anyone else. It puts our work in perspective.”

Damet said the coaches have regularly scheduled meetings to discuss ways of keeping players in shape and transmitting knowledge. Players have had individual meetings with coaches to go over film and provide more analysis than players would normally receive during a busy regular season.

Just as everyone else has tried maintaining a normalcy in life, the FCC coaches and players have tried doing the same.

On having time off the field

Being a coach is often a thankless job with never-ending work hours and sacrifices. So, while the soccer club would prefer to play soccer, the league’s suspension has allowed players and coaches to have more time to spend with their families than normal.

For head of goalkeeping, Jack Stern, he’s expecting his first child any day now, and the pause in play has allowed him to adjust to becoming a father-to-be.

“Like I’m going to be honest, I’ve spent more time with my wife in the past few weeks than I ever spent with her in a past year,” Damet said. “I think everybody’s got to enjoy that.”

But the coach also mentioned the downside, which is players self-isolating because they either don’t have a family here, or they recently moved to Cincinnati.

“There are also other situations where players are by themselves and they just moved to a new country,” Damet said. “They don’t have people around them to feel good, or to go through this period, so we also have to be there for them.”

He highlighted that team president Jeff Berding and general manager Gerard Nijkamp have gone out of their way to keep players at ease and comfortable during a time of uncertainty. 

Suspension leads to innovation

Damet said he’s been able speak regularly with coaches around the world to learn from them and see what ideas could help FC Cincinnati.

He highlighted communication with coaches in the French Ligue 1, English Premier League and even the French professional basketball league to learn new ideas.

“I’ve tried to be in touch with colleagues more, first, to discuss how they handle the situation, but also, I enjoy having these discusses with other staffs to try and get some information on how they work on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s an interesting time to see how different clubs are creative, and we try to be on top of it as well here in Cincinnati.”

Connecting the first team to the FCC Academy

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about youth academies, it’s Damet.

Before joining FC Cincinnati in 2017 as an assistant coach, he was the head coach of the Montreal Impact Under-18 team. He’s a big believer in youth development, and he wants to connect first-team players with the Academy players while everyone has downtime.

The idea is to have first-team players lead video chats with Academy players in the same position group. It’s a good way to share ideas, but also motivate the younger players.

“(It’s) just to develop that sort of relationship … and develop that connection that we can have within the club,” Damet said.

Time to spend time with the Black Cats

The last thing Damet was asked was what he’s watching on his TV these days. Unsurprisingly, the same thing as everyone else in the soccer world: “Sunderland ‘Til I Die.”

Season two dropped on Netflix on Wednesday.