Exploring The Off-Season: Phillip Dillon, Warsaw Eagles

Photo: Maffoto.pl
What is "the off season"? Does it exist in football? 
With our team as with other teams it does exist. I think every player or coach needs a little break after the rigors of preparation and league games. It offers the opportunity to re-charge the batteries.

What are the main goals coaches work towards during this time? 
During the off-season I work on evaluating the previous season to see what we can improve upon. I also look at what players will be returning and recruiting new players for the team. At the same time I also start looking more in-depth at import players for the next season.

When do you start looking for imports?
About 4 weeks after the season ends so around mid-August.

What things do you consider when sifting through options? 
I look at how the player fits the team based on our needs. What positions needed to be upgraded, what kind of talent the player has, previous teams, references, coaches’ opinions to name a few things. 

What things can an import do to increase their chances of gaining a teams interest? 
Know something about the team you want to play for. I do a lot of research on players before I will contact them so a player should do the same thing when contacting a team. The player should have an idea of the organization, country, culture, and cost of living. Also a player can contact previous players of a team to get information on the organization.

What is the worst thing an athlete can do to hurt their chances? 
I think the biggest mistake players make is that they take it too lightly. If you are searching for a job in Europe or the US would you write a potential employer an email or message that says “Hey I wanna play for you”. Be professional with your approach! If you get paid for playing you are a professional no matter what the salary is. Most teams have a small budget and bringing in a player is a big financial commitment. 

Do you have any interesting off season stories? 
Nothing that would be worth writing.

Once you have narrowed it down, what factors go into furthering your selection process? 
The personal side has to fit. I talk or write often with players to get a good feel for how they are personality wise because money etc is one thing but that player has to have the attitude to excel/live overseas. 

What type of team building events do you do between seasons? 
Actually none really, because between the seasons the players take a break. Once we start pre-season preparations we have the team together. Such as now the players are working out together as a team. 

Do you have any advice to players about how to approach their own off-season and recruiting seasons? 
For US players, they should start their off/pre-season workouts to coincide with their arrival in Europe. There is nothing worse than flying overseas to play football and be out of shape. I expect a player to be in shape when he gets here. Not get in shape when he gets here. A player coming over should only have to get acclimated to his surroundings and then fine tuning his physical shape once in Europe. When a player starts looking for teams, have an idea of what you want and where you want to go. If you have no preferences then at least have an idea of what different countries have to offer and the organization/teams in those countries. Most of all use a professional approach!

Lance Kriesien
Mia Bajin