We had the chance to talk to the team captain of GAIS after their gym session at Viscus this week, Steven Old. As we can see in the gym Steven is taking a great responsibility in the team and he takes care of his teammates. This is his second year at GAIS and he has a positive mind for the upcoming season. We asked him some questions about the team and their new Strength and Conditioning Coach from Viscus.
Hi Steven, good work in the gym today! Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Hi, thank you! How long time do you have? Haha! I am Steven Old, 30 years, born and raised in New Zeeland. I have played football in Holland, USA, Australia, Scotland, England, China and now here in Sweden.
My wife is Scottish and lives in England so I travel back and forth.
Other than football, I love to play golf and I love to travel. My favourite destination is to go home or anywhere hot!
Can you describe yourself in three words?
Spontaneous, confident and relaxed.
What is your responsibility on the field and off the field as a captain?
It is to control the best defence in the league by being a leader from the back where I try to organize the team. My priority is to keep the goals out.
Off the field I would say that I am someone that is easy to talk to and to come to if you need to find a direction.
Superettan starts in April and Svenska Cupen this weekend. Are the team feeling prepared?
Yes, we are feeling pretty prepared! It is only our fourth game now and we starting to understand the way we want to play this season. This weekend we will see our first eleven, since it is our first competition match.
This season there are a lot of new players, have you come together as a team yet?
Yes, I have never been in a team were so many players have come together so quickly. It is because of the mentality and the work ethic of the players. There are no egos! They are good guys, both on and off the field. Everyone is equal and together we work towards our common goal!
What is your first and foremost strength as a team this year?
I would say physical. We have big, solid, physical players! And that’s good because the league Superettan is very physical.
You have a new Strength & Conditioning Coach provided by Viscus Sport Science this year, Conor Mc Donagh. Strength and Conditioning is the application of applied sports science which Conor has a degree in. Can you see and feel any difference about Conor as a coach compared to the other “gym coaches” you had?
No disrespect to the last one we had, but there is a 100% difference. Conor is one of the influences that made the team come together this fast, with his discipline, honesty and the way puts pressure on players. Conor is a massive part of the puzzle. For reasons I cannot explain he brings players together. This has nothing to do with his degree, this is him as a person and his personality coming from a rugby background.
From his degree though, since he is a sport scientist we know that his opinion is based on a 100% knowledge. This together with a solid background with the teams he has worked with before is great.
If you ask him a question he would probably have an answer to it. If he doesn’t know it, he will find out and tell you soon. His honesty and his dedication to the team is great to have.
Are there any differences in the way you are training now compared to before?
Conor is more hands on and has more responsibility for us to get prepared before the football session starts. His warmups are so precise! Before every session starts, he gets the players activated, warm, and ready for the football session, especially in the cold Swedish weather.
In the gym he has a classic metaphor he always tells us: You have to be able to walk, before you can run, before you can sprint. Some of us can´t even walk yet in certain exercises. He is basically saying: Do the technique right first – then put on the weight. He is great at telling us why we are doing an exercise and not to just: DO IT.
Do you feel that the preseason with Conor has made you a better athlete?
Technique wise I feel a lot better. We spend more time with this type of training and we spend more time on these details than we have previously done. He has a survey before and after every training. You tell him how you feel and the intensity of the training. The results of this data is the ground of the next training and to know how the players react. That’s how detailed and how well thought-out he is. He thinks of every aspect of training!
What is the goal for GAIS this season?
To go to Allsvenskan! But the most important question is how we are going to do that because anyone can say they are going to do it. What you see on the field often starts off the field from our diet plan, gym sessions, and then to the actual football trainings.
We have the players and the discipline to do it, so I think this year will be good.
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