Olympique Lyonnais's Joé Labiani: "Our mixed-gender approach fosters holistic growth for both boys and girls"

Joé Labiani, 18 Aug 2023


The Olympique Lyonnais U19 women's coach discusses the academy's mixed-gender approach and explains how this benefits both boys and girls.

Joé Labiani started out his Olympique Lyonnais (OL) coaching career with the boys' U10 side. After several years at the club, he now finds himself head coach of the women's U19 team. In his talk with the FIFA Training Centre, he shares how OL is revolutionising youth football development by allowing boys and girls to train together. He then explains how this innovative approach aims to foster holistic player growth for all players involved.

Labiani elaborates on three aspects which make OL's academy so unique:

  • Mixed training model: boys and girls train and compete against each other. This approach aims to provide the best support and development opportunities for both genders.

  • Comprehensive support: the academy offers a complete support system, including coaches, fitness trainers, physiotherapists, mental coaches, and more, to ensure the holistic development of young talents.

  • Competitive environment: OL's U17 women's team competes in a U19 league, providing a challenging and competitive environment. The goal is to prepare players for the first team and emphasise problem-solving skills on and off the field.

Note: At the time of the interview Joé Labiani was serving as head coach of the women's U17 team.

Watch video

Part 1: Career path and drawing from successful boys' model
Part 2: OL's unique approach to women's football development

Read summary

Part 1: Career path and drawing from successful boys' model
Labiani walks us through his own journey to Olympique Lyonnais, emphasizing his four-year tenure and the transition from working with U10 boys to becoming the coach of the women's U17 team. The academy's mixed training sessions are being explored as a means to boost the performance of young girls. The academy's well-established structure, encompassing aspects of performance, medical care, and mental support, has yielded positive results for boys since the 2000s. By adapting their experience and existing framework, the academy aims to establish a unified model that fosters excellence for both genders.

Part 2: OL's unique approach to women's football development
The Lyon Academy stands out as a trailblazer in women's football, particularly in their U17 team. French recruitment norms dictate that girls can only be recruited from a limited radius until the age of 16. The challenge at U16 and U17 levels is finding regional talent. Lyon's U17s also play in the U19 league to enhance their development. The academy's success hinges on a comprehensive approach, with specialized coaching staff and individualized support. Training boys and girls together is a fundamental strategy that promotes skill-sharing and fosters a competitive environment for all involved; this approach is the cornerstone of Lyon's player development.

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