England Football Looks to Owen Eastwood

In a Guardian article, UK-based lawyer turned performance coach New Zealander Owen Eastwood (Ngāi Tahu), who has been working with the England football team, explains his role in building a sense of belonging and identity, by way of whakapapa.

Five years ago Eastwood – whose book Belonging was presented to every member of the squad at the beginning of the Euros – accepted the FA’s challenge to introduce identity and togetherness to the team, he immersed himself in the England story, in search of whakapapa, Wollaston writes for the newspaper.

Humans need to belong, it is an element of performance. “We try to signal to players that this is a place where you belong. You are respected, this is a safe place, we want you to be yourself and express yourself.”

Eastwood, who would later work as a lawyer to the All Blacks team, is too discreet to discuss individuals in the England setup, or go into detail about what is going on behind the scenes. He never refers to Gareth Southgate as “manager”. He talks instead about “leadership”.

In the lead up to the UEFA Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, Eastwood is also profiled by The Times.

Eastwood is currently working with British Olympic team and has previously worked with the South African Cricket Team, the Royal Ballet School and the New Zealand Warriors.

Original article by Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, July 9, 2021.

Tags: Belonging  Guardian (The)  Owen Eastwood  UEFA Euro 2020  Whakapapa  

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