Osian Roberts has 'fallen in love' with Morocco

By Jalal BounouarFootball Writer, Morocco
Osian Roberts
Former Wales assistant coach Osian Roberts has been working as technical director for Moroccan Football Federation since 2019

Last year Osian Roberts left his roles as Football Association of Wales' (FAW) technical director and assistant manager to join the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) on a five-year deal.

It is a decision that he has no regrets over.

"I have fallen in love with Morocco. The experience has been everything I hoped for and more," the FRMF's technical director told BBC Sport Africa.

"I am very happy I made the decision to come to Morocco to live and work. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people.

"My first year in the role has gone very quickly. I am very happy to have met and got to know so many people who are so passionate about football.

"I get a good feeling that everyone is ready for change and wants to progress."

Roberts started his coaching career in 1992 with Wales as coach educator and coaching several national youth teams including under-16, under-17 and under-19 as well as the Wales B squad.

He was then appointed technical director of the FAW Trust in 2007 before joining Gary Speed's coaching staff in 2010.

His work with the FAW Trust included setting up coaching courses that attracted the likes of Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Mikel Arteta.

He then went onto work as Wales' assistant manager to Gary Speed, Chris Coleman and current boss Ryan Giggs.

Osian Roberts

Already making progress

The 55-year-old is satisfied with what he has achieved so far despite all the challenges caused by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.

"We have used this time to put processes and planning in place which will help us produce success for the next few years," he explained.

"I had the opportunity before Covid-19 to travel the country and meet people in clubs and leagues to understand what the country needs in order to move forward.

"Now we are in the implementation phase, it's about action."

Roberts feels that it has been a relatively successful year in Morocco.

"There are many achievements across several departments. The Grassroots Department is so important because this is the future," he insists.

"The Women's Football Department has seen success on the field and is such an important part of our vision as we aim to become the number one sport for women and girls.

"I'm also proud that the recruitment of staff for the regional leagues and selection of candidates for the Caf A Licence courses has seen us move to an open, transparent and objective process which will be fair and open to all and this will continue."

Planning ahead

Roberts is already looking ahead to what needs to be done during his second year with the FRMF.

"We have an important year coming up. We have very important tournaments for many teams in particular the U17 and U20 boys," he pointed out.

"We have also been ambitious as we want to train 150 Caf A Licence coaches this year. Education of coaches is way behind here and this is so important for the future.

"We can't do this alone, we have to work closely and work well with key partners such as our clubs and our regional leagues."

Osian Roberts with Wales manager Ryan Giggs in the background
Osian Roberts worked as Wales assistant coach under Ryan Giggs

During his time working for Wales Roberts worked with some notable people including current coach and former Manchester United legend Giggs and Roberts is still in touch with him and several other coaches in Europe.

"I try and speak as often as I can to former students and colleagues," he added.

"I speak to Ryan regularly of course and I am so happy to see Wales still ranked at number 21 in the Fifa world rankings and so many young players coming through as we expected.

"Roberto Martinez is doing a similar role to me in Belgium so I speak with him often and we share ideas.

"But I speak often to Mikel Arteta, Pepijn Lijnders (Liverpool assistant coach), Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry to name a few as well as former colleagues in the FAW.

"There is a big interest in what I am doing here in Morocco. Many were unaware of Morocco's potential and the passion for football.

"They are very impressed when they hear about it and they are keeping a close eye on Moroccan football now."

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