GoPlay Sports caught up with Florida Celtic Technical Director Johnny Burns to ask him about his coaching career and life after moving from Glasgow to Orlando.
Burns, the son of Celtic legend Tommy Burns, was given a fabulous opportunity to work in Florida in August 2016 and the former Celtic Academy coach has grabbed it with both hands and not looked back – apart from the occasional glance back at Parkhead.
After a solid coaching grounding at Barrowfield, we asked him about the differences in coaching in Scotland to the US.
“Obviously I was lucky enough to work back home (Scotland) at pro youth Academy level where everything is focused on development,” said Burns.
A Change In Mindset
“The biggest difference for me coming to American is the change in mindset. At club level in America it can be very difficult to change the mindset of a lot of people. A lot of people are focused on winning instead of development, which can be really detrimental.
“I’ve been really lucky to join a club in Florida and be able to given a chance to try and change that mindset and I’m lucky enough to have people who buy into that.
“It really is the mindset of the players and the parents which is the biggest difference. The quality is great, we have a bigger pool to pick from and here you are competing against other sports.”
Asked whether Burns finds it hard to keep his Celtic players away from the clutches of America’s more traditional sports, he says his players, like himself, are ultra committed.
“When you grow up in Glasgow it’s football or nothing. Here we are always fighting with American football or basketball and there is competition there.
“We are fortunate enough to have kids that are very dedicated to soccer at our club and they put all their efforts into soccer and that’s great for us,” said Burns.
‘Females Are Very Coachable’
Following in the footsteps of his late father, Burns came through the Celtic Academy and when his playing career came to and end at 18, he stepped up into coaching. And after learning his trade at Parkhead, Burns, who had been running Celtic’s summer camp in Florida for four years, was offered the chance with Florida Celtic.
“I wanted to broaden my horizons. You can get stagnant if you’re in one place for too long and I just thought it ws a great opportunity to see a different style of soccer and work with boys and girls,” said Burns. “And I’m incredibly fortunate to work with some very talented kids at Florida Celtic and the move has made me a better coach.”
Burns believes he is now fortunate to coach both girls and boys – and he says he coaches them in exactly the same way.
“I treat them exactly the same and I think the girls buy into that. One of the biggest surprises for me is the quality of the female game here. It’s outstanding. And the females here are very coachable, they try and implement everything you say, whereas with boys it is much tougher.
“They take what you say on the training pitch into a game and that for a coach is great,” said Burns.
“It’s also trying to broaden their horizons, so that they know to use their brain and express themselves when they are on the field as well.”
We could not let Burns go without a word about our tours and the benefits of travelling as a group overseas.
“I’m taking the 2002 girls’ group to Glasgow later this year with GoPlay, who have been unbelievable with regards to accessibility – allowing parents to contact them. And they have designed a tour around what we want and that has been fantastic,” added Burns.
“We’ve been planning this for a year and a half and it’s all the girls have spoken about. They can’t wait to get there and there is a real togetherness about them, knowing they are going to be exposed to international level players.
“It will develop them hugely to play against a different style.”