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Summer Coaching Symposium Clinician: Lluis Cortes

Note: This is the fourth in a four-part series profiling the clinicians headlining NorCal Premier Soccer’s 2023 NorCal Coaching Symposium. The event, which will be held June 9-11 in Oakland, will be co-hosted by USL Championship club Oakland Roots SC. To sign up for the symposium, click here. Last up is Lluis Cortes, the head coach of the Ukrainian Women’s National Team. Before working in Kyiv, Cortes made a name for himself during his two-and-a-half year tenure at the helm of FC Barcelona Femeni in which he won six major trophies including the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League. 

FC Barcelona Femeni’s 2020-21 campaign will forever be known as one of the most successful seasons for a club team in world football history.

The Catalan giants swept through La Liga, winning 33 of 34 games while compiling a plus-152 goal differential, captured the Copa de la Reina with a dominating performance against Levante in the final, and thrashed Chelsea 4-0 to capture the UEFA Women’s Champions League title.

And next month the mastermind of that success, former Barcelona head coach Lluis Cortes, will present his world class methodology at the NorCal Coaching Symposium in Oakland.

Currently the head coach of the Ukrainian Women’s National Team, Cortes brings a wealth of experience to the event that he hopes to share with NorCal’s eager learners.

“I’m coming to the NorCal College Symposium to explain my methodology, especially how we were working with the Barcelona women’s team the last two seasons, mostly focusing on my second season there, where we won the treble: the league, the cup, and the UEFA Champions League,” Cortes said. “Also, I will try to explain the differences between being the head coach of a club team like Barca and being the head coach of a national team like the Ukrainian National Team, without speaking about the current situation in Ukraine because we would need 10 hours for that.”

Like many FC Barcelona coaches to come before him such as Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, Cortes’ philosophy is based on keeping the ball and using it to influence the game through positional play.

“(I want) to play brave soccer because we want to manage the match by keeping the ball and by attacking,” Cortes said. “I always say to my players that you have to enjoy and make people enjoy (the game). I’ve never seen a girl or boy enjoying playing the sport on the street without the ball. They enjoy the game with the ball, so I try to play with the ball with my teams and I try to work with my team, based on how we play when we have the ball.”

Naturally, not all of the game entails having the ball, something that Cortes is keenly aware of.

“Of course, when we don’t have the ball, when we’re defending, for me it’s very interesting how we can win the ball as soon as possible,” he said. “We also speak about transitions because I think it’s very important to transition well, both offensively and defensively, because that’s the best moment to win the ball.”

It’s these ideas and more that Cortes hopes to get across during the three day event.

“I think it’s important to explain that we’re going to see how we train during the on field session,” Cortes said. “For me it’s important that the attendees can see how we train so they can understand the thinking and this style of play as it’s not easy in only three training sessions but we will try to do our best, we will try to show them how we train and they will see that we are not focused on fitness or skills but more focused on making the right decisions.”