Yohan Cabaye: "Always remember to respect our badge"
Former Paris Saint-Germain player (2014-2015) and now Assistant Director of the club from the capital's Youth Academy, Yohan Cabaye tells us about his new life and his responsibilities with the youngsters who aspire to discover the highest level.
Yohan, can you explain your role within the Youth Academy?
“At the moment I'm Assistant Director of the Youth Academy. And my role is to create the training methodology for the youth teams, to follow up with the staff on the evolution of the players, to have a close relationship with the families, because the families entrust us with their children. So it's important for us to stay close to them, to the players and to accompany them in their pre-youth development initially, and in their youth development after that."
Do you feel a big responsibility with this job?
"It's especially exciting because every day is different, and every young person is different too. This means that in the daily support or in the messages we give, we will have to speak differently depending on the person. Sometimes we have to be even more careful in order to achieve the same objective: that of a fulfilled, happy development, to prepare them in the best possible way to reach the first team."
How do you define the culture and mindset you want to instil into the youngsters?
"The important thing, when the youngest arrive at the club, is that they understand the environment in which they find themselves. And that Paris-Saint-Germain is not a club like others. It is a club with history, which has the ambition to always win and to strive for excellence. We put this in place on a daily basis, the youth academy is a performance platform that allows them to understand the demands they have to meet. These are the values, the culture that we want to teach them. A youngster who climbs the ladder here has a duty to set an example for a younger player who arrives in the U13 or U14 category. We have to always remember to respect the Paris Saint-Germain badge."
How important are results in the Youth Academy?
"I think that youth academies are first and foremost about developing the player. Obviously, when the player is on the pitch, I hope he doesn't want to lose the match. But when I say player development, it is in the vision and the choices made by the coach. Of course, you have to keep a balanced team. But they must not forget that the most important thing is the player's development, obviously. And we are lucky to have very good quality players. And quite honestly, I prefer to win the game in a more difficult way with much younger players who can gain experience faster than playing with the oldest team possible to win very easily. The purpose is the same: we play to win the game but with a desire to make the players improve much faster."
The players also prove themselves at a very high level, especially in the Youth League...
"The Youth League, for me, is an extraordinary competition, it really is. And I think that being able to play matches at this level is a huge motivation. After that, it is also up to us to find the motivational levers so that they can always perform and give their best. Because of course these matches are important, but they are especially important for their development and to get playing time. For me, playing in the Youth League means getting closer to, or even higher than, the international level in their category. So there is always a very positive benefit to playing these matches."
Parisian youth academy is often praised, with the talent pool in the Ile-de-France region...
"The scouting team, Pierre Reynaud and his team, are very present in the Ile-de-France region. In all the departments, they manage to create very good teams. Afterwards, it becomes the coaches' role too, a bit in the background. But it becomes the coaches’ role in technical, tactical and athletic development. There is no pressure around the talent pool here, it is above all a great source of motivation."