Building the “team behind the team”: a 21-month instrumental case study of the Swedish 2018 FIFA World Cup team

Susanne Meckbach, Christopher R. D. Wagstaff, Göran Kenttä, Richard Thelwell

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In this study, we provide a novel account of the selection and development of a staff team for the Swedish national men’s football team for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A total of 37 interviews took place at six time points over a 21-month period to track the values-based steps taken by the national Head Coach to build his support team. The sample was employed in a variety of roles including Head Coach, Assistant Head Coach, Goalkeeping Coach, Mentor to the Head Coach, Performance Analyst, Sports Psychologist, three Scouts, and a Team Manager. The data are presented in a temporal manner and organized according to three core values which were espoused by and later adopted as a value system by the support team: candor, humility, community. The data provide novel insight into the recruitment, formation, and development of the support team underpinned by a value system promoted by the Head Coach using candor, humility, and community. The presentation of longitudinal reflections from the Head Coach and members of the staff team during their build-up to, and excellent performance at the World Cup finals offer a significant contribution to knowledge regarding how a values-led approach was experienced in elite sport. The findings offer salient implications for research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Early online date25 Mar 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 25 Mar 2022


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