Exclusive Q/A with Coach Omid Namazi

Namazi is currently working as an assistant for the Iran National Team (Photo by Reza Saeidipour, Far News Agency).
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I had the privilege of spending two seasons with Omid Namazi when I was the Director of Communications for the New Jersey Ironmen of the Major Indoor Soccer League from 2007-2009. It did not take long for me to quickly appreciate the incredible soccer mind and tactical intelligence that Omid possessed, and I am happy to say that we have remained close friends since our time together in Newark. I recently caught up with Omid, who has enjoyed a longstanding and successful coaching career, whether it be the men's or women's game on the indoor or outdoor platform, and has taken over as an assistant coach for the Iran National Team. Here's what Omid had to say about his new gig (John Archibald, Resolution Sports).

JOHN ARCHIBALD: What led to you heading to Iran, both in how it came about and how you made the decision to accept the position?

OMID NAMAZI: Back in November, Mohammad Khakpour, a former World Cup player for Iran as well as a former MetroStars player, accepted the head coaching position with a club team in the Premiere League in Iran and asked me to come in and act as his first assistant, which I accepted. A few months later, Carlos Queiroz, former Manchester United and Real Madrid coach, was hired to be the Iran National Team coach. Now, I had played for Carlos while he was coaching the MetroStars in MLS' inaugural year, so in a chance meeting, when he asked if I would like to assist him with the national team, I accepted his offer with open arms.

It was an honor to work alongside him and for the national team of my parent's birth country, as well as a chance to expand on my coaching career at the highest level. It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and it comes with great sacrifices, such as being away from my family for long periods of time, but one I couldn't pass up.

JA: Aside from the obvious, what would you say are the biggest differences between coaching in Iran and in the States?

ON: Coaching in Iran has its unique challenges. Lack of proper facilities in a third world country, the sanctions and the lack of any relationship with the West makes it very tough for our team to reach its full potential. There is a great deal of talent here with players, but most go unflourished.

JA: To my recollection, there has never been someone to coach professionally at the men’s level, indoor level, women’s level and national team level. What would you say are some of the main reasons why you have had so much crossover success?

ON: I'm a soccer guy at heart. I live and breathe soccer every day of my life. I watch and analyze games of all sorts, from all corners of the world. I'm a student of the game, but above all my success comes from my fear to fail. I believe in hard work and if you put in the hours and take care of the smallest of details, you leave yourself less chance to fail. Someone once said my biggest asset in coaching is my ability to read the game and my eye for talent. Maybe so, but that's for others to judge.

JA: In what ways are coaching men and women similar? How are they different?

ON: Coaching men and women is similar in a way that, at the end of the day, it's the same game. 11 players matched up against another 11, and each team trying to be better than the other. And it's a simple game, really.

Where it is different, it's in the way you manage and deal with men as opposed to women, and vice versa. Obviously men and women have different physical characteristics, but the psychological differences are even greater. Women are much more emotional and wear their emotions on their sleeves. They need a greater amount of communication with than men do. Men, on the other hand, are a lot more hardened, and a coach can be a little tougher on them without damaging their psyche.

JA: Among all of the successes you have had so far in your coaching career, what would you say is your favorite/top experience?

ON: My experiences have all been great. Winning a championship with the Philadelphia KiXX in 2002 and making the playoffs with the San Diego Spirit in 2003 for the first time in their history are a couple that stand out.

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