Free State Stars Football Conditioning Coach Riedoh Berdien has played a significant role in the club’s progress under head coach Luc Eymael this season.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, the former Chippa United, Botswana, Bangladesh, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa (Banyana Banyana) and Togo fitness expert praised Stars for welcoming his training methods that have paid dividends in a thrilling Premiership season.
Berdien studied Exercise Science and is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer. He also attained his diploma as a Football Periodisation Specialist while working towards his UEFA Coaching Badges.
In a fascinating interview, Berdien said: “Firstly I have to thank Free State Stars management and coaches for their support and believing in my Football Fitness Methodology.
“The pre-season was different and challenging as we had a little injury crisis last season, so we came in early designing a 10 Week pre-season model.”
Reflecting on managing the club’s experienced players from a conditioning point of view, Berdien added: “It’s tough, yes but honestly they are football players so you have to speak a football language with them as they understand the game very well.
“They respect the game and its physical elements so as a fitness coach you have to train the game and it physical elements, so the understanding and respect will always be there because of the game.”
He continued: “We have to give huge credit to club captain Paulus Masehe who has led by example from a football fitness point of view. At this stage he still covering high distances as well as producing high volumes of quality football actions per minute within training and matches.
“Our medical team has produced good individual programs for the experienced players and for our youthful players integrating into the team’s football conditioning model very well.”
And on working under coach Eymael, Berdien explained he is thriving with the challenge.
He explained: “It is very challenging yet motivating. He is always pushing you at 100 per cent to become the best in your field. This gives drive to staff and players to succeed.
“Since Coach Luc’s arrival he gave lots of structure and balance to our training sessions and training weeks. He is extremely football specific in his conditioning which shows he has a good understanding about the game and its physical demands.
“He works well with players and the medical team, and as a result this season we achieved 98-100 per cent player availability to training sessions and matches.
“Due to our injury decrease we trained and played with our best players most of the time, making our players fit and giving us a great chance of winning football matches.”