While most players are driven to coaching by a love of football, Brazilian football player Mateus Martins was drawn to coaching by an inspiring photo. A few years ago, a friend captured a photo of Mateus performed a football trick in front of a group of children. When he later inspected the photo, Mateus saw the wonder and curiosity in the children’s eyes around him. At that moment, Mateus realized that he wanted to give back to his host country by becoming a coach, creating a brand of energetic and kind coaching.
“[Everyone] come[s] to China with [their] own history, own ways, but we are all welcome here,” Mateus explained. As part of giving back to the warm welcome he received, Mateus is a volunteer coach at Rainbow Special Parenting Center, a center for children with autism. Although he was initially unsure of what to expect, he discovered that coaching kids with autism is the same as his other coaching experiences. Respect between coaches, players and parents remains of key importance. Mateus’ coaching style remains unchanged: make players love the game by coaching with patience and always answering their questions.
An important part of coaching is communication. In 2007, when Mateus first moved to Dongguan, he could not speak English or Chinese. This was difficult for the social and talkative Mateus. Today, through practice in everyday life and not a single language lesson, Mateus’ English is good enough to conduct an interview, and his Chinese is “enough to survive.”
Mateus currently runs two football academies—one is mainly for individual training, while the other is better suited for team training. He is hesitant to expand his company because it would mean losing his coaching style; however, he is working hard to spread his coaching energy by attending sessions to coach coaches from all over China.