Jag Bal excited to be a part of the European Coaches Convention

The European Coaches Convention is set for November 6-7 in Berlin, Germany and will feature a full slate of top-notch speakers including Jag Bal.

Bal, who was head coach of the Berlin Thunder of the European League of Football, ELF, in 2021, joins an impressive lineup of coaches put together by the duo of Jesus Sanchez and Bart Iaccarino from the Barcelona Dragons of the ELF. The event will have two days of football talk and discussion featuring, along with Bal, other excellent coaches from Europe and the United States, including former NFL head coach Wade Philips and former NFL coach Brock Olivo as well as Berlin Adler offensive coordinator Lee Rowland.

The 38-year-old Bal, a native of Vancouver, Canada, played at Butte College in Oroville, California, (the same junior college that quarterback Aaron Rodgers transferred from the year before) and arrived in Europe as a defensive lineman with the Dresden Monarchs in 2007. After stints with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes and Berlin Rebels, he entered the coaching field in 2010 with Croatia’s Zagreb Raiders as their defensive coordinator. He went on to become head coach of the Zagreb Patriots in 2011 winning the Austrian Second Division title. He joined Italy’s Catania Elephants in 2012 as head coach leading them to the Italian title game that year. The following season, he joined the defensive staff of the Swarco Raiders before settling in as defensive coordinator of the Berlin Adler for two years.

AFI asked him about his coaching philosophy and his reasons for speaking at this watershed event.

AFI: What are the keys to building a winning team?

Bal: There’s a lot of crucial elements which go into a winning team. It starts with a great HC, Management & Front Office. Then comes the infrastructure: practice facility, convenient weight room and team offices. With those things in place comes the football personnel. The coaching staff is of primary importance: they need to be extremely motivated, hard working and committed to the team regardless of personal goals. Then comes the recruitment of the right players. When the football team is finally together, implementing a great off season/preseason and the indoctrination of a great team-culture/mindset is of primary importance.

AFI: How can teams best develop young talent?

Bal: Firstly, be a better coach every day. It is crucial that the coach/es is/are extremely motivated, open minded and free from ego (everyone is my teacher mindset). Learn, apply, correct, repeat.

Secondly, provide them with the opportunity to physically prepare themselves in the weight-room and on the field. Know your athlete’s athletic history so you can understand how to build a program which may attribute to the growth of motor skills/physical Literacy + Make them stronger.

Lastly, your staff is everything.

AFI: Why did you choose to take part in the convention?

Bal: I have had the opportunity to be involved in other conventions, but I never took the honor to speak knowing that I would be surrounded by incredible minds. I always asked myself ‘what value could I provide to such great men?’ At this point, as a student of the game, I have inherited so much from the experiences of others and feel like I wouldn’t be the coach I am without them. So, I find it only fair to do the same for others even if it might be something they know then at least they can reaffirm that what they’re doing is correct.

AFI: What is one thing you would tell young coaches?

Bal: Trim the fat. There is a lot of knowledge in the sphere of football. You can find yourself going insane trying to learn it all. You need to do what you do best and evolve from there.

AFI: What does coaching mean to you?

Bal: I had the fortune to play hockey, basketball and football throughout the majority of my childhood. All of my coaches instilled quality characteristics in my life. They held me accountable, they demanded excellence, and they made me understand what selflessness means for the success of my team. My teammates provided me with the solidarity I needed to feel confident, even powerful. They fought for me like I fought for them. All the torn ligaments, broken bones, dislocated shoulders, vertebrae, hips, ankles, kneecaps and the list goes on. We all fought for personal pride and team pride. The struggles we endured as teams were not as grievous as the ones I dealt with in my day to day of which I had no control over. Instead, I could play an integral part for the sports-family that sacrificed their bodies and neglected their own personal safety to „do the right thing. The right thing being the hardest part in sports(usually). Not going the easy way to make a big play but doing what you’re supposed to do so the whole team can gain.

These lessons I feel like are going missing from the general public. Coaching allows us me to imbed the right mindset and skills into young men who are trying to navigate through this chaotic world. I’m honored and proud to join the ranks of the great coaches who have or had the opportunity to change and affect so many lives. I don‘t need to be remembered. I would rather have a valuable impact. In short, that’s what coaching means to me.

You can listen to Jag Bal speak at the European Coaches Convention on Sunday, November 7 at 11 am CET.

For more information on the European Coaches Convention click here.

You can also check out the ECC Facebook page.

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