Young Lions' new coach Hesse starts after getting work pass
New Garena Young Lions coach positive about his players' ability
The Garena Young Lions finally have an official head coach.
Last night at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Frenchman Patrick Hesse took charge of his first training session with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Under-21 developmental side that play in the professional Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League.
He arrived in Singapore in late last month, and The New Paper first broke news of his impending appointment on Feb 2.
But he has had to bide his time and only observe training sessions and friendly matches from the stands, as his work pass was still being processed.
He finally got clearance yesterday afternoon.
Hesse, 58, watched from the stands at Jalan Besar on Sunday night as his charges got their season off to a winning start, shocking Balestier Khalsa 1-0.
His compatriot Richard Tardy, the FAS' national youth teams head coach, had taken charge of the team during pre-season, and was in the technical area for the win over Balestier.
Last night, Tardy addressed the Young Lions before their training session, encouraging them to try their best to build on the good start.
Hesse then took over.
After a two hour-long session, the former Metz, Tunisia and Mali assistant coach told The New Paper he was looking forward to working with his new players.
Pointing to the win over Balestier, he said: "It was not a surprise. We have confidence in our players.
"Okay, we were a little lucky but the fighting spirit the team showed was also very important.
"This team are very young and we are here, with all the staff at FAS, to help these boys progress.
"We tell them they can succeed, but they must work very hard.
"And I feel they are ready to do that."
Hesse, who has a Uefa Pro Licence as well as a Uefa Elite Youth Licence, started his coaching career handling youth teams at French club Nancy Lorraine, before moving on to become the assistant manager at Metz.
He had a crack at senior management at Luxembourg side Dudelange, and most recently held assistant coaching positions with the national teams of Mali and Tunisia.
He told TNP he prefers working with younger players as there is more fulfilment.
"My dream, if you will, was to coach at all levels, from (youth) to senior," said Hesse.
"I have done that, and I feel I work best when I work with young players.
"I have handled big players before. In Africa, I coached (Mali international and former Barcelona star) Seydou Doumbia.
"But it is different when you coach youngsters and see them progress and make it.
"For example, even now, I still talk to Monsef Zerka every month. And Pape Diakhate."
Hesse worked with ex-Morocco star Zerka and former Dynamo Kiev defender Diakhate in the youth teams of Nancy, where he was based for 12 years.
Zerka, coincidentally, played two seasons in the S.League with the now-inactive Tanjong Pagar United in 2013 and 2014.
That was when Hesse first learnt about football in Singapore.
But he really paid attention only when Tardy and FAS technical director Michel Sablon came calling.
Sablon was hired last April and tasked with producing a pipeline of talented Singapore footballers.
He roped in Tardy three months after starting work.
"Michel and Richard explained their philosophy and what they wanted to do," said Hesse.
"They say the players here are good, and want to work a lot.
"This is also the first time for me in Asia so, for me, it's also a chance to learn a new culture.
"Yes it is a challenge, and that is also important for me... If not, I would have stayed in France."