By Kristyna Jandova
After coaching big league football clubs Sparta Prague and Bohemians 1905 and guiding his two sons into the professional ranks, Martin Hasek has opened up his back garden to train young athletes looking to combine fun and fitness.
Hasek and his wife Martina have turned their 2000-square metre backyard in Suchodol into a sporting area for children, which includes a trampoline, pool, sports court and other athletic equipment strewn about.
Their goal isn’t to turn children into professionals but rather to inspire kids attending his camps and trainings to be more active and to ensure young campers receive the proper instruction to pursue a healthy lifestyle and love of sport no matter the ability, Hasek said.
“Since both of my sons are grown-ups now, the complex we built in our garden for them is empty and opening it up to train and play with children gives it another meaningful purpose,” said Hasek, who will continue training sessions for children when the school year starts..
Hasek, the younger brother of Olympic and Stanley Cup Champion Dominik, forged a long football career in part by paying attention to physical preparation that helped stay healthy as he competed at the highest levels.
This approach of focusing on movement and agility applies to both children pursuing sports more seriously and those who just want to enjoy being active. The main thing is to get kids off their phones and moving, Hasek said.
“A group of five that came earlier didn’t want to go home because they were so excited from all the equipment they could use and that’s when I realized it really has a good purpose,” Hasek said. “Seeing the backyard full of kids’ laughter while they are learning something new made me smile too.”
Both Hasek and his wife graduated in physical education and while he trained professional players in teams like Sparta Praha or Bohemians Praha 1905, his wife taught sports at elementary and high school — giving them a unique perspective to teach young children.
“We have the resources, we have the education and we have the willingness, energy and love for children,” Hasek says about their new project. “My ambition was fulfilled as a player, coach and my sons became professional footballers too, now I want to see other kids play sports that make them happy.”
Hasek gives kids space to play together in a friendly and family environment. Growing up, Hasek played both football and hockey and at 10-years-old he remembers choosing football because he liked the coach even though he enjoyed hockey more, he said.
At the sessions, children do everything from jumping into water or on trampoline to playing team games with Hasek and his wife on hand and his professional football playing sons sometimes pitching in to the delight of the young campers.
The structure of the sessions also depend on who takes part. A 6-year-old without much sporting experience might receive a more individual approach but most of the training focuses on team sports and moving development, Hasek said.
For a 12-year-old footballer who is trying to improve, there is also enough time to spend on developing the game’s technique. Making kids feel like everything is a form of game rather than a professional training helps kids build a love of sport, Hasek said.
“Kids these days don’t get enough exercise, we give them the space and professional instructions,” Hasek says. “I like giving the kid’s their first initiative, once they have it they’ll know what to do.”
Hasek offers both group and individual sessions and while most of his campers this summer are Czech he’s hopeful he can tap into the expatriate community who lack access to the Czech sporting infrastructure due to language or other reasons. He also plans to offer trainings through the school year for group or individual trainings.
Having a lot of free time on hand due to the pandemic and having a sporting area in their backyard, Hasek and his wife realized that many kids were stuck at home while they have all it takes to show these kids the right way to move and spend their time.
“Our family led us to sports and supported us and I want to continue doing so, however now it is not only about my own children but about supporting any kid that comes and will be given the same initial impulse I gave them,” says Hasek. “Not every child’s dream is to do sport for living but you still have to let them have the resources to find the love and desire for movement.”
For boys and girls aged 6 and up and interested in attending one of the camps or participating in individual or group trainings starting in September, Hasek can be contacted through his web site at hasansport.cz. Instruction is offered in Czech, English and German.