Player Care

Hugo Scheckter

In the pursuit of excellence, football club are always striving to find ways to squeeze out new ways to ensure players are conditioned in the best way possible to perform.

 

Whether it is tailored training schedules, diets or using the latest technological advances to work of tactics, few stones are being left unturned in order to gain an advantage.

 

And increasingly, making life easy for the players off the pitch is becoming a familiar part of the wider structure being point in place to provide the best working environment to produce the goods on matchday.

 

Put simply – the fewer stresses and problems in life, the better it is you are thought to perform. 

West Ham are one club who have spotted an opportunity to develop this side of the game, raiding Premier League rivals Southampton to appoint Hugo Scheckter as their Head of Player Care.

 

Scheckter had been an integral part of life for the squad down at St Mary’s, and a year into his new role at the London Stadium he is beginning to make his mark in East London.

 

After summer in which the Hammers invested heavily overhauling the squad, Scheckter has been working overtime to ensure all the new arrivals especially are settling in well.

He believes his job is vital to ensuring the smooth transition of all those who have arrived – seven players and a further nine when you include the coaching and management team.

 

Scheckter said: “I believe that player care is the new wave of difference-making in football.

 

“In the ‘90s it was medicine, more recently it’s been video analysis, and I think player care is the next area where clubs can really get an advantage over each other.

 

“By having players who are set up properly and looked after, it means they can focus on nothing but football as soon as possible after they walk through the door.”

 

 “We’re trying to make sure that everything is not just taken care of, but taken care of in the right way.

 

 “It’s our ambition to have one of the best player care departments in the next two years.”

 

The last few months have been hectic for Scheckter and the team, with two assistants appointed to help build the new department around the club.

 

He added: “That is more than I’ve ever dealt with, I’m more used to about five or six.

 

“We try and sort the six main things: the house, the car, the bank account, the family, the phone and languages. Once we’ve got those basic things, everything else falls into place.

 

“Player care sometimes gets seen as like running a concierge or nanny service.

 

“But if you or I moved to a foreign country aged 20, we wouldn’t know what to do because we haven’t grown up in that environment.

 

“When someone comes here, we need to make sure that everything’s explained.

 

“Someone like Fabian Balbuena, for example, has never lived outside of South America.

 

“There’s so much different stuff that they have to get used to, it’s about trying to work out the gaps in their knowledge.

 

“Whether it’s council tax – we’re the only country in the modern world that has a council tax-style system – or even knowing you need to stop at a zebra crossing.

 

“A lot of the time, we’re just translating English into English, when people speak with an accent or use flowery language, so they’re not confused and know what they’re signing up to.

 

“We’re there to protect them, as well, because there are a lot of people who see these players as a potential money source.”