Originally a footballer from Berlin, I work full-time as a football coach in Finland since 2015. I have the UEFA A coaching license, a "Professional Football Management" diploma, masters degrees in philosophy and in psychology, 25+ years experience as a coach and 40+ years as a player.
I also have much experience in other club functions, such as Head of Coaching, club office manager, board member, referee, team leader and pretty much every task that can happen in a football club. On top of that, I'm an instructor for coaching license courses for the Finnish Football Association.
Living in Finland is a nice experience, particularly the beautiful nature. Green forests and blue waters are important to me. My Finnish language skills (acquired autodidactically) are good. While I have been and am constantly employed, feel free to tempt me with a spectacular offer.
This website offers you information about me, helping you make your decision to hire me (or just find out more about me). Let's start with 22* of my football coaching skills (in alphabetical order):
*Why 22? Because according to Gary Lineker, 22 players fight for the ball for 90 minutes, and at the end Germany wins.
If you want to develop good football players, you first have to teach the kids to love football. The love of football comes first. Without this love, no football future. Players who love football, want to train, want to learn, want to play. I develop players who (hopefully) play football for all their life. I love football and I show that to my players all the time. After footballlove comes time and patience. Juniors football is not result-oriented football. Juniors football is learning and developing football!
I'm the type of coach that I would like to have had as a junior (and partially, albeit not enough) had. Peter Stöger said during his time at 1. FC Köln in the Bundesliga some years ago: "Football is a game. A game has to make fun." That is so true! No matter whether Bundesliga or Sunday League. If you don't have fun playing football, why do you play? If football causes you stress or bores you, you quit. It's so old-fashioned to think that seriousness ≠ fun. In my opinion: The more fun, the more serious. Keyword: Flow!
In Finland (but not just there), there is a big "drop out"-problem. I've watched many trainings from various clubs throughout the whole country during my years here and I'm not surprised. I seldomly witness fun in the trainings. I see young kids who get positional tactics and who tell me "I can't go forward, because I'm a defender." - "Is something happening here where we both stand?" - "No." - "Do you have fun here?" - "No." - "Is it boring?" - "Yes." - "Would you like to go up there where the action happens with the ball?" - "Yes." - "Well, go!" Kid runs up in joy. This conversation actually happened between me and a 9 years old girl.
I see teenagers whose coaches yell at them during games as if they would be professional players getting paid a bonus for winning. I see juniors sitting 70 of 80 minutes on the bench, because they are "not good enough". Well, how are players supposed to get better if they rot on the bench? The only thing you learn on the bench is bench life. Benchwarmers don't develop their football skillz. You need to be on the field for that. If you don't develop, you might as well stay at home on the sofa. So they quit. Another drop-out. That makes me sad. And unfortunately it happens again and again and again. Why? It's not rocket science: The more undeveloped your skillz are, the more playing time you need.
I studied psychology and philosophy. This reflects in my coaching methods. I don't want to only develop good players, but good human beings. Ethical values are very important to me. And I have to be a role model for the kids, on and off the pitch. I try my best, but I'm not perfect, of course. I'm there for my players, no matter what age. I believe that my players understand that I offer them 100% and my best. That's why they want to give that back to me. To their team. To themselves. We create a symbiotic effect. I love football. You love football. We love football. It's simple, if you think about it. It's a question of mentality. That's not a theoretical matter. You have to live football. Because you want to.
Aristotle's concept of phronesis (prudence) guides my decisions. In short: Between two extremes, striving towards the middle between both is the wise thing to do. Football-example: Offensive pressing is risky. Defensive pressing is craven. Midfield pressing is the wise choice in between those two extremes. Training example: Too much fitness training causes a lack of technical skills. Too much technical training causes a lack of physical skills. Let's train a bit of both, according to the team's need in that particular time and space.
Football happens on the field. Coaching isn't just a question of theory. It's a practical matter. I don't only think about football theoretically. I think about it practically. I think about the game. Like a player. Because players play the games, not coaches. No players, no game. Fact! I have a lot of playing experience and know how players think and function, what they need. Been there, done that. That's something you can never learn in theoretical courses and seminars.
Experience is important. You need to know and understand what happens on the field, why it happens, and what effect it has on the players. For example, when you lead 2-0, and the opponent scores a goal. What do you do? Take out your tactical board? Nah, man. That's now a psychological issue. If I'd be your player and you'd give me a tactical speech in that situation, I wouldn't listen. I need to find solutions myself on the field. And it's the coaches task to provide their players with as many possible solutions to as many scenarios as possible.
As a coach, I value sportsmanship and fair play. I support the #kannustamua campaign from the Finnish Football Association and I am convinced that top level football automatically evolves when there is a sufficiently large base at the grassroots level. Thus that level needs to get more focus and attention. All players who want, need to get a chance and deserve your support. It's easy to only work with already developed players or natural talents. The challenge is to work with players who still need to learn and improve a lot. Never give up on a player. Quantity is needed to achieve quality.
I like to work with adults. It's fun and interesting to work on a team tactical level and having players who understand what you're talking about. On the other hand, I also find it very fulfilling to work with young kids and teach them how to become a footballer. My personal interest shifted during the last years from mens to womens football. I'm critical of the recent developments in mens professional football internationally, especially regarding the amount of money and - even more - where it comes from. Womens football reminds me more of the football style with which I fell in love with in the first place. Women play good football.
To end this short journey into my philosophical football mindset, I want to pick up something I mentioned in chapter 7 already. But I want to let someone else finnish my thoughts: The legendary German footballer Alfred Preißler once said: "All theory in life is grey - what matters is on the pitch." That's how it is. And as hinted at in position 10, at the end it's all about one thing: good football and what that could mean. I can only speak from a certain point of view like Obi-Wan Kenobi. And so I did. May the Football be with you.
Instructor for E-, D- and UEFA C-license courses
UEFA A coaching license
UEFA B coaching license
Professional Football Management diploma
Master degrees in psychology, philosophy and media studies
Diplomas "Internet Editor", "Internet Programmer", "Portal Manager"
Training as Merchant for Office Communication (professional school)
Job: Club coach. Other tasks: camps, children events, coaching courses, talent school, morning trainings. Teams: D-boys (2010-11, 4 teams), E-boys (2013, 4 teams), hobby women.
Job: Head of Coaching. Other tasks: headcoach, coach, talent school, morning trainings, instructor. Teams: B-girls (2005-07), C-girls (2008-09), 8v8 women, men's representation team, hobby men. Sidenote: I founded the first adult teams (men and women) in the history of the club.
Job: Head of Coaching, Head of Office. Other tasks: headcoach, coach, talent school, morning trainings. Teams: C-girls (2004-06), D-girls (2007-08), C-boys (2005), third men's team. Sidenote: I founded the third mens' team as a special team to use in the UEFA A license course as my "show group". It was a combination of youngsters and experienced senior players. We had to start in the lowest league, but immediately promoted.
Job: Head coach. Team: Men's team in the Finnish Kolmonen league. Sidenote: I'm the only coach in history who won a Joensuu-derby against Jippo. You can watch our practised throw-in-trick winning goal on YouTube.
Job: Instructor. Task: Student sports association's weekly football group.
Voluntary: Playing coach. Team: mixed team in the local 6v6 hobby league.
Side job: Coach, social worker, consultant and Erasmus+ instructor. Task: Football coaching for refugees and immigrants, futsal workshop. Teams: various groups in the local 6v6 hobby league.
Voluntary: Playing coach, vice president (since about 2011). Team: Men's team in the Finnish Vitonen league. Sidenote: In 2022, I was awarded "Keltik-legend" status at their 20th anniversary gala. [* I was a player for Keltik since 2007, starting during my student exchange year and then almost every year during my summer holidays, until I eventually moved there in 2015.]
Job: Head coach. Teams: Women's representation team in the Finnish Kakkonen league, D-girls (2003, 2 teams). Sidenote: The girls first team won the Eastern Finland league and the cup in 2016.
Side job: Head coach, playing coach. Teams: Men's representation team (Kreisliga A), 32+ seniors' team (11v11). Sidenote: I left 2/3 through the season due to my new job in Finland.
Job: Record seller and customer service. When I started with SG E-R (see above), I was looking for another job to accompany the gig. I found one of the world's biggest online shops for second hand vinyl records to work for. It was a very interesting environment and I would have continued with them - if I wouldn't have gotten the once-in-a-lifetime chance to move to Finland to work as a full-time football coach.
Voluntary: Playing coach, then head coach. Teams: Men's representation team (Kreisliga B, C), D-girls. Sidenote: We achieved the first promotion in the club's history under my command.
Job: Private customer sales and strategical planner at a health insurance company. Sidenote: After my "unpaid holidays" for studying that I had arranged with the AOK Berlin (see below) were over, I went back to work. Unfortunately, the AOK Berlin went bankrupt and was taken over by the AOK Nordost just when I returned. They had to take me back due to my contract, but they didn't want me back (including my playing coach gig with the BSG AOK Berlin, see below). After two years I signed a "termination agreement".
Job: Student assistant for the ”Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation”. The CEIP helped students who wanted to start their own companies. We attended events, workshops and tradefairs. Sidenote: It was supposed to be a one-semester-job, but the boss was so satisfied with the teamwork of me and my co-worker Dana, a football player from the Holstein Kiel's women's team, that we got a second semester before the funding ran out.
Job: Trainee and radio show host. Part of my studies was a training at a media company. During my exchange studies in Joensuu I stumbled on the newly found radio station Oi fm. I did my volunteering with them. That included two own radio shows. Sidenote: I continued to deliver monthly radio shows for them pre-recorded from home until 2010, because my program had such good ratings, even for the weekly re-runs. Unfortunately, Oi fm closed its channel for good on 4th January 2015.
Job: See AOK Berlin. Voluntary: playing coach, Secretary to the Board, teamleader, caretaker. Team: Men's team in the (formerly highly respected, now unfortuately deceased) Companies League. Sidenote: This task was connected to my main job at the AOK (see below).
Job: Internet Supervisor, Intranet Editor and marketing assistant. During my 1998-2001 education (see above), the practical work parts happened at the AOK Berlin. I didn't intend to work for them after the training ended, but in 2000, their Head of the Student Department noticed me playing and coaching my own university league team. He asked me under what circumstances I could imagine joining his team and employer. I told him some ideas. A bit later, a new job was created for me. I thus became an official AOK employee and BSG AOK player and coach. Sidenote: In 2004, the company got into financial troubles and was looking for "creative solutions" to save on salaries. My department needed to "get rid" of two full-time salaries, and I was the youngest one, without a family. I thus signed an "unpaid holidays" contract to go to the university for some years, and then return even more qualified some day. How this story ended can be read above under "AOK Nordost".
Voluntary: Chairman, playing coach, referee, caretaker. Team: My own founded team in Berlin's University League. Sidenote: After 2000, we continued as X-men. You can find info in the "Statistics" section below.
Job: Community service (the alternative in Germany, if you didn't want to go to the army). This was a great time. Me and a friend worked on-site in North Germany at a youth hostel and education center in the middle of the forest. We took care of the premises, helped in the kitchen, and with cleaning. Due to my drivers license, my main task was to go groceries shopping, drive customers around and in the summer even a tractor. Sidenote: When I re-visited the place in 2009, there were only ruins left. In 2014, the municipality tore down all remaining buildings. It's now just forest and meadows.
Unfortunately, I cannot provide exact statistics for both, my playing and coaching career. Nowadays, everything is tracked online, but most of my active time happened before that. I have some personal statistics, but my own archive is incomplete like the one in the Jedi Temple.
Ralf developed the club's new player path comprehensively.
Ralf is a great coach and the trainings are the highlight of every week!
Ralf's ideas are generally the same as our previous coaches tried teaching us, but his implementation is much better.
Ralf is a gentleman.
The basis for our defensive behaviour that Ralf laid for us is now bearing fruit.
Thanks to Ralf, my view of football has become clearer and simpler, which has made my playing and training easier.
One of the most talented coaches I've ever had.
Ralf is one of the greatest football minds of our time.