Shevchenko -- Lack of Cultural Awareness Training Leading to Poor Performance?

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Has Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko's poor start to the Premiership season have anything to do with culture shock? Yes say Kwintessential, a cross cultural communications consultancy.

Andriy Shevchenko, Chelsea's super summer signing, is far from setting the Premiership alight. Criticism is growing, questions are being asked and the multimillion pound deal seems to be turning sour. Leading experts in relocation training Kwintessential (http://www.kwintessential.co.uk) say this appears to be part of a worrying trend. The company states that Premiership clubs are still in the "dark ages" are not taking the challenges of culture shock and cultural integration seriously. As a result, players are underperforming and clubs are losing money and talent due to a lack of support for foreign players.

The business world, it seems, is more switched onto these issues. Research has shown that the inability to adapt to the host culture is the most common reason for relocation failure. International companies now recognise the importance of minimising this risk and invest in relocation programmes that help their top professionals settle into new countries and cultures, as well as provide guidance on how to work effectively with new colleagues. Kwintessential believe that football clubs will continue to suffer poor player performance unless they invest in relocation training and procedures that prepare players properly for the culture shock they will face in England.

The problem say Kwintessential may well come down to an industry attitude. While football clubs are now incorporating some human resources management techniques, star players are predominantly still seen in a more traditional way; as examples of athletic genius rather than fallible individuals. When asked about how foreign players settled into Liverpool FC Gerard Houllier replied; "The players' country is Liverpool Football Club and their language is football". This romantic idea ignores the reality that both individuals, their families and the clubs suffer from inadequate cultural integration. While Houllier's reign at Liverpool has long ended, Shevchenko's experience is just one among many that shows the problem remains.

At exactly the same football club another huge international star also felt the impact of culture shock just two seasons ago. Hernan Crespo, a gifted and talented striker, left Chelsea due to the inability to settle. Crespo found even everyday things difficult because of language and cultural barriers. Speaking of his time at Chelsea he says:

"It was a problem for me to sign a contract for a house. It was even a problem trying to use my phone because I couldn't explain what I wanted. If the electricity bill came, it was a problem as well. Those things would occupy my mind every day. There was nobody to help me. There was no one to tell me whether to live near Chelsea or the training ground. And when you change your country, don't speak the language and you feel alone, it's the worst thing."

He was not alone. For every Thierry Henry, who settled at Arsenal with great success, there has been a Juan Pablo Angel. Soon after Angel joined Aston Villa his wife fell ill and he was shocked at the lack of support he received from the club. Angel also grew long hair - but not by choice - he didn't know how to ask to get it cut. And Ian Rush's bizarre description of his ill-fated spell at Juventus; "It was like playing in a foreign country" shows British players can be equally ill-equipped for the change in lifestyle that playing abroad entails.

Kwintessential are a leading cross cultural communication consultancy that specialise in expatriate relocation and cross-cultural integration training. Their courses equip foreigner moving to the UK with the proper information and guidance to help them settle quicker and more effectively. Clients include Balfour Beatty, Westinghouse, Kellogg, Brown & Root, Twinings, Rolls Royce and Societe General.

Founder of Kwintessential Neil Payne says:

"Britain has a unique culture and a way of life that many people find extremely difficult to settle in to. A lot could be done to help footballers relocate successfully and happily. Before coming to the UK clubs should ideally offer a player and his family with some cultural awareness and language training; as soon as they are settled this should be followed up to address the challenges they are coming across."

More information about Kwintessential

Kwintessential was founded by Neil Payne in 2002. The company has become a leading expert in language and culture training with a network of cultural specialists across the UK. Services include all bespoke cross-cultural education courses, translation, interpreting and international website translation. Visit their website as http://www.kwintessential.co.uk for more information.

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