Former IFA County Fermanagh Performance coach, Christophe Moulin, has recently been appointed Switzerland U20 manager.

Moulin has been working the Head of Elite football in his native Switzerland and now will combine that job with his U20 manager’s role.

“I am very excited, that’s the least I can say! Throughout the season we should be competing in an eight-nation championship with big footballing countries such as Germany, Italy, England or the Netherlands. However, we need to await UEFA final decisions in relation to the Coronavirus,” he said.

And he is looking forward to getting back to a more hands on coaching position.

“I have been working as Head of Elite football for more than five years, trying to improve the development of our most talented players from 12 to 21 years of age. I have refurbished the whole academy system, set up Centres of Performance in our biggest clubs and worked closely with the Swiss Super League to facilitate the players’ pathway to our professional levels. I have been very close to the game, but dealing very often with sporting directors and chairmen, rather than coaching directly players on the pitch.

“I am very glad to be back into coaching and managing. I will combine the U20 manager’s duties with my current job. These two activities complement each other very well indeed, as I will be on both ends of the players’ development. It will allow me to assess what our young players are meant to learn and what they can actually implement,” he said.

Moulin explains that the development of young players in Switzerland is vital keeping the country competitive at international level.

“In Switzerland developing young players and finally promoting them in our two professional leagues is our only way to keep competitive at international level. Our clubs can only survive if they produce home grown players, give them a chance with the first team and then sell them to foreign clubs.

“We regularly have between 40 and 50 players in the European top five leagues (Germany, Italy, England, France and Spain) and our national team benefits a lot from it. Ten young players have joined our national team in the last few years,” he added.

Like the vast majority of places, football ground to a halt in Switzerland due to the Covid-19 crisis but the top leagues are set to recommence this weekend.

“Our two pro leagues are finally going to resume on June 19, after almost a four month break. We had never stopped for so long since the second World War.

“At youth and amateur level, this current season has been cancelled; no league titles, no relegations, as if this season had never existed. I think it’s a fair decision because we were only half-way trough the season when this virus hit us. In Switzerland our championships are split into two halves, one period between August and December and the second one from March until mid June. From a philosophical point of view, I hope that our young players missed football and will come back with even more passion for the game than ever.”

Christophe spent five years in Fermanagh and he still likes to come back and visit.

“With my wife Christine and our four children we spent our last Christmas holiday in Enniskillen. Even if they are now between 23 and 15 years old, they all really wanted to come back this winter. We all had five unforgettable years over here, we miss the people’s friendship, their kindness and sense of humour. Whenever we meet our friends in Northern Ireland, we always feel well from the first minute, as if we never left the area. However, Fermanagh will never be the same to me since the death of my friend George Elliott who passed away on 1st January 2019. I miss him.”

And he also remains in regular contact with current Ballinamallard United boss Harry McConkey.

“We phone or text each other very often. Harry is one of the best men I have had the chance to meet in the game and it is rare to find someone like him with the whole package; a brilliant football knowledge, great coaching skills on the pitch and his management skills are second to none. I hope that the NIFL and the IFA will take the Championship table as it stands and allow Ballinamallard United FC to go up. County Fermanagh needs a team at the top of NI football and Harry McConkey is definitely a Premiership manager,” commented Moulin.