Our Sports Science Director, Chris Barnes has finally arrived Nigeria to resume duties. In his first day at work, Barnes, who's in Nigeria for the very first time, was one of the spectators at Friday's friendly between VFC & Abia Warriors. He spoke with VFC media about accepting the offer to join the Lions, what he is set to add to the team as Sports Science Director, and of course his impression of the game.
Welcome to Nigeria Mr. Barnes and congratulations on your appointment.
Thank you very much, I am delighted to be here with this great club and country.
Your first time in Nigeria?
Sure very first time.
Great, don't worry, we'll make you feel at home.
Hahaha. I'm looking forward to it.
When you got this job to head the sports science department of VFC, what went through your mind, and why did you accept the offer?
I’ve worked a sports scientist in football for a lot of years and I have done a lot of jobs, a lot of clubs and other parts of the world and first of all, this just sounded like a completely new challenge, actually, the challenge is very similar to the one I took on 25 years ago at Middlesbrough Football Club in England, when the Chairman approached me and he said "we want to do something different, we want to introduce sports science to football in England." That was what we did 25 years ago and this is exactly the same challenge but in a different country, different culture, different players, different coach and it’s too exciting an opportunity to by-pass .
What is Sports Science and what are you coming to do with it here at VFC?
The first thing I am coming to do is to observe and understand the setup at Vandrezzer and understand where the strengths are, how the coach likes to work and how the coach wants to see the team play because the value of science comes to compliment the arts of coaching, so you compliment the art with science.
Sports science can help provide the coach with information he wouldn’t have had before. So, you think about the art of coaching, it’s about making decisions at the end of the day, he makes a lot of decisions every day, and he makes those decisions based on the information that he has. At the moment, that information is coming from his eyes and ears, what we can start to do is to collect objective information on the training field and in matches, we are going to test and monitor the players, so we can hopefully help the coach get them in the best possible physical condition. We can measure this, and that’s really what science does, it measures things where previously we rely on our expertise and our experience.
So, hopefully, what I am here to do is to be complimentary to the coach.
How is Sports Science going to influence the performance of the VFC team?
What it is not going to do is change anything overnight. I am not here to change, I am here to add, Vandrezzer FC is what it is and what the club is is important because it defines the culture and the people and the way the club is. If I can add a layer on to Vandrezzer FC, which just create extra little one percent here and there, if that is in terms of the physical fitness of the players, how quickly they recover from injuries or how quickly they recover from matches, then, those are the small wins that will actually help us slowly progress.
Sports science isn’t an overnight pill, its something that we will hopefully slowly build and will take people on the journey, the players most importantly and the coach. So it is not a threat, its something that is here to actually help people to maximise their potentials, but that will take a little time, so we will drip feet and introduce it piece by piece. If it’s eventually works, then Vandrezzer FC will be an African powerhouse.
Your opinion of the VFC / Warriors game and Nigerian football in general
I’ve just seen my first LIVE Nigerian football game today. I’ve seen on television but football is very different when you see it live. To be truthful, it’s the first preseason friendly game and it looks like a preseason friendly game, the tempo slowed quite dramatically towards the end, the decision making towards the end of the game was not also good, clearly some of the players were fatigued, that happens, also, it’s going to take time for coach Everton to bed down the way that he wants the players to play, so it becomes automatic at the moment, there is a lot of thinking of what he is asking people to do.
Again, it will take time. This was a typical preseason friendly game, the players look in good shape, nobody got injured and that is a really good news, hopefully the team can kick on starting tomorrow.
Mr. Barnes, welcome once again and we wish you success on your mission with VFC.
Thank you very much.
Vandrezzer FC, won't walk that road without you!