Season 1. Episode 11 with Jackie Bachteler. Listen to the podcast. Don't forget to subscribe!         

FROM DREAMER TO TRAILBLAZER

(Tony DiCicco) asked me if I could join his club (Soccer Plus Connecticut Reds). It was an honor and besides playing for him, they offered me a job where I worked in the office, from cleaning, to filing, to learning all the little details about how to run a club
— Jackie Bachteler, Hammarby Assistant Coach and former professional player

Announcer: Welcome to the Rethinking Football podcast, where we discuss player development with players, world renowned scouts, professional football academy directors, coaches and others. We will use Spain’s model and compare it to other national governing bodies in other countries. At the end of each podcast we will update our theory of change to improve player development worldwide using indicators, best practices, and our own research, along with the opinions and expertise of our guests.

Host: Host: Welcome to Rethinking Football. I am your hos,t Dawn Brown. My guest today is Jackie Bachteler. Jackie is the project leader for IFK Stocksund in Sweden, and has played professional football and coached both in the US and abroad. She has also just signed with Hammarby IF. I’m excited to talk with you today for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is because of the impact you’ve had in women’s soccer globally. I think the timing couldn’t be better given that we are celebrating international Women’s Day this month, and here in the United States we are celebrating women’s history month as well. So, the timing is really ideal.

You have a pretty powerful story. I know you’ve been playing and coaching since a young age, and you’re about to make this exciting transition in your career by signing with Hammarby. We can talk more about that in a bit as well. Your global perspective and experience are the key things that I would like to talk with you about today. Why don’t we start with learning a little bit more about you? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Guest: I come from South Hampton Massachusetts originally. My dad was my first coach growing up. I really fell in love with the game. I played until I was about 10, and then I got pretty sick, so I had to stop for a little while. Then I saw the women’s national team from 1999 and I saw them beat China with these incredible penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl with 90,000 fans, and I saw the passion and everything about it, and I thought, “That’s what I want.” I really fell in love with the game and everything and everything about the game.

So, I started training constantly from right before the bus came to pick me up until from right when I got home to go to my own training and so on. I played for my first club team which was a few ages older, and then I went to a Soccer Plus camp that was right down the street from my house. My parents signed me up for it. It was Tony DiCicco’s camp. I asked my family if Tony would be at the camp, and they said I don’t know. And the first day at the camp he was there, and they asked for a demonstrator with him, and I raised my hand directly. He picked me, and I ended up nutmegging him  in front of 100 kids. We started to keep in contact throughout the years and I went to the camp every year. Then he started a club in Connecticut called Soccer Plus Connecticut Reds. He asked me if I’d like to come join his club. It was an honor and besides playing for him, they offered me a job at Soccer Plus, where I just worked in the office from cleaning to filing to learning all the little details about how to run a club, when it came to marketing, financing, coaching, packing for camps, everything you can imagine. What it took to run a camp business club, to run a team, to coach a team, even before I went to college. It was an honor playing for them and it was extremely professional. So, it was a dream to play.

There were some boys in my hometown that wanted individual training, so I started coaching them individually as well. I was extremely technical, and they asked me if I could coach because they needed a new coach and asked if I would be their new coach. So, I said I would. I coached the C12 boys team until I left for college. In the beginning they were the Bad News Bears, and then we found a really great connection. Now all those boys are still playing in college and so on.

(In) my senior year I had a tip that the WPS would probably fold, so I thought it might be better for me to go overseas. So three days after I graduated I signed a contract with Finland...I was on the next plane to Finland for my first contract and my first time as a professional player
— Jackie Bachteler, Hammarby Assistant Coach and former professional player

I went to Florida Southern College after I graduated from high school. In the beginning the team was in last place, or third to last. And after our first year, we became top 25 in the country. It was an incredible journey and I met some of my lifelong friends, Swedish players that I still meet regularly here in Stockholm. It was a dream, and every summer would go home and I would work for Soccer Plus camps. I would play in the WPSL Soccer Plus Reds, but in the summer before my senior year I got invited to play for the Boston Aztecs. I had the opportunity to train with the Boston Breakers. I got to train with them for the whole summer and it was a dream come true to play with players like Christine Lilly and Kellie Smith and so on. I loved every second of it and I enjoyed playing for Tony there, And, with the Aztecs it was a fantastic summer.

I went and had my senior year and I had a tip that the league with the WPS would probably fold, so I thought it might be better for me to go overseas. So three days after I graduated I had signed a contract with Finland. So I was on the next plane to Finland for my first contract and my first time as a professional player. It was very interesting, and not everyone on my team could speak English. My coach could speak very little English. he spoke Finnish to the team and Swedish to me. So I ended up learning Swedish instantly. I coached there as well. I coached in the Finnish and Swedish schools, I coached with the club because I couldn’t even speak the same language. It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot by myself. The next year I got a contact from a club in Sweden called IFK Gävle which I believe is in Division II, and they offered me to coach their Division III team as well, so I got to play and coach, which was incredible. I also got to coach in the schools.

...I saw the same thing everywhere, that there was something missing; there were all these players from around the world, and they were winning because they had good players, not because they played well. Maybe because they had more athletic players...I saw there was something missing, a spark missing...It was killing me and I saw my heart was becoming more of a coach
— Jackie Bachteler, Hammarby Assistant Coach and former professional player

In Gävle I met Tony Gustavsson who Is now the US national assistant coach, or coach for the US national team. He started a company called TikiTaka Football Development along with Boray Gustavsson. We had the same thoughts and ideas about development, and it was incredible to meet someone that thought of the game as in the same way as I did. So Tony invited me to come back and help him build this together. It was an incredible experience. They didn’t have enough money to pay for my visa right away, so I ended up playing for a division one team in Borlange which was three hours from Stockholm. And all my work with Tiki Taka was in Stockholm. So I would travel from Borlange to Stockholm every week twice a week. I worked in Tyresö.

Some of the best women’s players in the world at the time. I worked with everyone from the 18 down to the youth team, camps clinics, talent groups, everything for Tyresö. And the name spread for TikiTaka and we got more work, and it kind of exploded in Sweden. We went to Costa Rica as well, spread it to the US, Nigeria, and it really bloomed with this method. Everyone in Tyresö only knew me as a coach to be honest. I had a game in Stockholm, people came to watch me play, and asked me what are you doing there? You need to come here and play.

Halfway through the season I transferred to play for Tyresö. So I got to train with the best players in the world almost every day, Both playing and coaching. I would play matches with their division one team. It was an incredible dream.

Then I ended up playing for Djurgården, which is another top team in Sweden. Sadly Tyresö went bankrupt and so all these players went to different clubs around Europe. I started taking little trips to see these players playing for Barcelona, Montpellier and so on. I saw the same thing everywhere that there was something missing, There were all these great players from around the world, and they were winning because they had good players not because they played well. Maybe because they had more athletic players, not because they played great football. I saw there was something missing, a spark missing, it was just like a job check in check out. It was killing me and I saw my heart was becoming more of a coach.

So I decided to retire three years ago, and I put my heart into coaching. I got a job in the second highest league in Sweden to coach for team called Sunnanå. It’s way up north in Sweden, so basically the North Pole. It was also an incredible experience and I learned a lot. We had a lot of adversity as well, with injuries and so on. After that experience I got an offer to go to Cyprus to coach in their top league. And their dream in the league is also to go to champions league, to win the league and go to champions league. And on the team in Cyprus my oldest player was 40, and my youngest was 14. Everyone else was around 26, 27, and I had players from Moldavia, Romania, Czechoslovakia, several Swedish players and a few players from Cyprus. Not everyone spoke the same language. Some players couldn’t even speak English, but we found a way to really connect and we found a way to really play together. We did something really special in Cyprus and with so much adversity and so many different ways. We had games fixing, referees, everything you can imagine. But really this team knew how to fight, and we knew how to connect and come together. We beat the Poland ladies for the first time in the Cyprus history. And we racked up a few points in champions league. It was a dream on the field, I can say.

So then after this experience I decided to come back to Sweden, with my old manager from Djurgården . He went with a club called IFK Stocksund. He asked would you come here and help me and IFK Stocksund to create a way to college, for players toward their dream. And I thought it was a great way to come back, and they were going to also help me with my UEFA B. I am almost done with right now. It’s been an incredible experience, and I love helping players for their dream and connecting players. My dream is to go to champions league and to win champions league, and win by playing well, win by putting on a show, win with freedom by lifting up the individuals that lifts the team. And the team lifts the individual and everyone looks good. Problem solvers, balance between structure and freedom. Now recently I just got an offer to go to Hamerbee, which is the top league in Sweden. So now I will be the assistant coach with Hammarby and I will also be with IFK Stocksund helping them create this way to college and helping these young Swedish players to the dream in the US, as well as living my dream as an elite coach.

Host: What a wonderful experience that you’ve had so far in your career, and there’s a lot I want to dig in and talk more about. But let’s start with Soccer lus. You mentioned Soccer Plus and being involved with them and your early development as a player. It sounds like it had a pretty big influence on you. Can you tell us more about that experience, why it was important to you, what it has done to help you in your career today?

Guest: The Soccer Plus, without them I would not be where I am today. I can say that I had a passion for the game, and I was a student of the game, but so was everyone involved in Soccer Plus. They are all students, they were all extremely passionate. In an environment where players and coaches learn together. It was an environment where you felt free, where you could express yourself. I learned how to really really express myself in a team environment, and they brought the best out of me. They also showed me it was possible, and they made it OK for every player to dream and gave every player the opportunity, and it was up to you to take it. Tony DiCicco, the one who started soccer plus, he has helped me and so many players in the US towards their dream. He helped me with college, he help me go to Finland, he was my mentor in every single way. So I have a lot to be thankful for with soccer plus, Tony DiCicco and the DiCicco family and everyone involved. Everything they taught me I still used today in my career.

Host: That’s fantastic. It seems like three your career you’ve been both a player and a coach at the same time, just based on your history and background. Can you tell us a bit more about your experience in coaching? And particularly in coaching while also playing?

Guest: Yes to be honest, when I first started coaching, I did it so I could train more. I did it so I could work on some extra a goalkeeper move or a longer ball, first touch and so on. It was a way for me to train and teach other people. And I realized the more I taught, the better I got. And later on they studied this, you learn the most when you teach. I taught as much as I could because I knew it would make my self a better player as well. When I was playing I always thought OK how can I teach this, what are the keys to solve this problem? How can I get this out to my players? So my playing helped my coaching in my coaching help my playing, and my coaching made my playing much better because it gave me these keys to solve the problems I had in different spaces, to be quicker. How to solve these different problems in the great game than most players. Also I had so many repetitions and could demonstrate almost anything, so I got thousands of repetitions every week from shooting to first touch and so on. So coaching iwass basically a way for me to train as well. It’s also something for me to give back. I’ve been coaching since I was 14, and I’ve coached now in the US, Finland, Sweden, Cyprus, Spain, Costa Rica, so six different countries professionally. One thing that soccer plus did for me is they gave me an opportunity to give back, and I want to give back to that legacy as well. I love to develop players, I love to develop a team, I love to develop a group towards a goal, and work towards a goal both as a player and person.

Host: Everybody who wants to be somebody in a particular sport, who is passionate about the sport, whether it’s football or any sport for that matter, they want to know all the heroes, who all the winners are, everybody associated with the sport. So how important do you think that knowledge, not just the world renowned names, but also the local people, the local stars. How important is that to a child's formative years of soccer?And what kind of influence does that have on them?

Guest: I think this is extremely important. When I was younger I knew everything. For example I knew I wanted to play for the Boston Breakers. I trained with them but I never officially played for them. My dream was to play in those blue colors in the Harvard stadium. I knew every single detail about this team. I knew who the manager was. I knew who the coaches were. I knew every player, what countries they were from. Their stats, everything. I wanted to know everything about their games. We had season tickets, so me and my dad went to every game we could. And it was incredible to see these players, and when you see this type of players and role models, you want to imitate them and emulate them. So I think it’s important for players to have real idols, not just the ones you see on TV, but maybe it’s a local high school, maybe it’s a club team, maybe it’s a WPSL team. You go watch and you think wow maybe this player is special I want to be like this player I want to copy them, I want to copy their movements. When you have a hero, a role model, whether it be from your local high school, whether it be, you were involved in studying every detail of this person, every detail about this team. You can also take it into your own game, try to imitate it and copy it within your own training.

Host: That’s awesome.  This concludes this episode of Rethinking Football. Please join us next time when we continue our conversation with Jackie Bachteler, and we talk about her experience as a player in Europe’s elite football.

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