National Coaches Day

We would like to take the opportunity to thank and appreciate all the effort made not only by the coaches throughout the Competitive and Recreational program, but also to all the managers and volunteers who make the youth organization possible.

Adults have a huge impact on youth players, no matter what the role. From decisions at a board level, to the daily social interaction of coaches and managers.

President Richard Nixon signs a proclamation declaring October 6 as National Coaches Day. It states: “Coaches are highly qualified teachers—in highly specialized fields. But more than that, they are friends and counselors who help instill in their players important attitudes that will serve them all their lives.”


Thank you to those who have shown their appreciation with the following kind words –

Dear Fremont YSC coaches, managers and staff,
Thank you all for the hard work throughout the past year. My kids have enjoyed working with you and they have benefited a great deal from your effort. We as parents have also seen the thoughtfulness you put in your work the first hand. You have helped to make the Fremont community better.

Jing Wang

A big heartfelt thank you for all the hard work and effort all the coaches put into their teams. You can really see how much they all care about their teams and the players’ development. Also a big thanks to all the Fremont YSC support staff too! Without them, none of this would be possible!

Kim Khoury

Week 11 Review

The following contains information about the weeks practice. The email will outline the sessions that have been completed and what the players worked on. We have a player centric, proactive curriculum which ensures the players will cover all the necessary mechanics, skill work, and give players a chance to be decision makers and creative players. Through the long-term development from U8 to U19, the players will pass through different stages and priorities as outlined in the program welcome meeting.

While during practice the players will be given the tools they need, if an individual wants to push on with playing at a higher level and performing to the best of their ability, practicing at home will always give them that extra edge, and we can’t encourage enough for those with passion for the sports to practice in their own time. This also avoids unnecessary over-training of structured practices continuously throughout the week.


ADP Training Pool, U8 and Competitive Ages (Monday was a rest day, the following breakdown is for the session the coaches chose to run)

  • Dribbling 2

Technical session focusing on the mechanical breakdown of dribbling the ball. First activity is to give the player a high repetition of actions in an area with no pressure, other than the awareness of other players also in possession of the ball. Player recognizes spaces to move in to and occupy. Transitioning to skill involves the players now having 2 opposition players in their area, attempting to gain possession of the ball. Upon gaining possession, the player now dribbles back to their own teams playing area. Players recognize when to dribble and when to run with the ball to space, along with the need for ball manipulation in reduced spaces from an opposition player.

  • Small Sided Games, Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


11’s to 08’s Competitive Teams (Monday was a rest day, the following breakdown is for the session the coaches chose to run)

  • Dribbling Under Pressure

Individuals dribble under the physical pressure applied from an opposition player. To transition the technique of dribbling and manipulation in to a game realistic skill, players are put in to a situation where the optimize their ability to play with both feet, be strong in possession of the ball, and balanced.  Players recognize the need to adjust their body to get between the opponent and the ball, and to adjust this position dependent on the direction of pressure applied by the opponent.

  • SSG 1

A game with multiple scoring options. Small sided games allows for the player to be in a game situation, while experiencing different game scenarios through the constraints and conditions placed on the game. This optimizes the players cognitive and socio-affective structure.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


07’s to 05’s (Monday was a rest day, the following breakdown is for the session the coaches chose to run)

  • Dribbling Under Pressure

A small sided game where players are challenged to make decisions quickly while under the pressure of an opponent from multiple angles and under different scenarios. While starting with a ball each, as opponents recover possession of the ball and place the ball out of the playing area, attackers must now support those still in possession of their ball. This forces players to recognize danger, and also provide supporting angles best to receive the ball in open spaces. Decision making and problem solving is in an individual and group context.

  • Changing the Point of Attack

A rondo played in a 3v3 + 2, positioned to where the 3 players are lateral through the wide playing area. Upon regaining possession the ball, the 3 players recognize the spaces and position themselves accordingly to switch the ball from one side of the playing area to the other. The 2 neutral players are used for support ahead of and behind the ball. Concepts worked on include quick short passes to disrupt organization of opposition, triangulation of support, and communication through player and ball movements. A positional game takes place to replicate the game scenario of knowing when and how to switch the point of attack from one flank to the other.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


04’s and Older

  • Physiological Conditioning – Injury Prevention & Core Activation

A circuit of exercises to engage the core through hip hinge movements, and glute activation. A low intensity and low impact session for recovery purposes and re-entry in to the week of practice. A significant amount of time allotted to stretching, loosening up the posterior chain, and hip-flexor muscles.

04 and 02 age groups practice small sided rondos, in a low impact session for managing intensity following the weekend games.

  • Attacking with a MF 3

Rondos and positional games to introduce the concepts of attacking with a MF 3. Objectives included connecting the attack and defense through MF, and playing between the lines. Roles of the MF was to support the ball out from the defensive line, and to support the attack with 3rd man runs. Concepts included triangulation of support to open up multiple passing channels and provide multiple options for the possessor of the ball. Conditions placed on the practice to replicate the game situation and to put the players in to different scenarios where they encounter new problems, and need to find the solutions in real time on the field.

  • Attacking with a Front 3

Positional game with a front 3, and supporting MF 3. Opponents are put in to formations and given instructions to create problems for the attackers. Solutions are provided with multiple different solutions depending on the oppositions reaction to the attack. CF movement is utilized to create spaces on the opponents defensive line, for the 3rd man runs from MF to take advantage of the unoccupied spaces. Weak sided forwards roll in centrally to provide numbers in attack in zone D, while FB progress to take the created space in the wide channel to provide width in attack.


Every session is structured to facilitate all four pillars of the players development, and to include challenges, targets, and competition to get players to push themselves further. We are a program that heavily focuses on the players individual development, and not to get caught up in the race for trophies and excessive travel to unnecessary tournaments. If you ever have any questions about the Fremont YSC philosophy, and the proactive curriculum, we are always available to answer.

Breakdown of mechanics in technique – https://www.fremontyouthsoccer.com/technical-tactical/

Week 8 Review

The following contains information about the weeks practice. The email will outline the sessions that have been completed and what the players worked on. We have a player centric, proactive curriculum which ensures the players will cover all the necessary mechanics, skill work, and give players a chance to be decision makers and creative players. Through the long-term development from U8 to U19, the players will pass through different stages and priorities as outlined in the program welcome meeting.

While during practice the players will be given the tools they need, if an individual wants to push on with playing at a higher level and performing to the best of their ability, practicing at home will always give them that extra edge, and we can’t encourage enough for those with passion for the sports to practice in their own time. This also avoids unnecessary over-training of structured practices continuously throughout the week.


ADP Training Pool, U8 and Competitive Ages

  • Shooting 1

Technical activity to start the session, static activity with high repetition for the initiation stage of the players development. Players strike towards each other looking for accuracy of their strike, and finding the players preferred technical mechanics in their body movement. Adding to the technique, players now move within the grid before striking at one of multiple goals, placing the individual player in to a situation or striking in a different situation every time to work on the coordination structure.

  • Small Sided Games, Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


11’s to 08’s Competitive Teams

  • Passing between the Units

Penetration through passing, using the pass to communicate with players on the direction and speed of play.  Important role for the 2nd attacker with their movement and distance of support to get in to seams and position between the defensive units. All players constantly checking their shoulder to see where the next pass will be played before receiving the ball. Body movement and position to have hips open to the field.

  • SSG 1

A game with multiple scoring options. Small sided games allows for the player to be in a game situation, while experiencing different game scenarios through the constraints and conditions placed on the game. This optimizes the players cognitive and socio-affective structure.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


07’s to 05’s

  • Dribbling to Possess

A small sided game where players are challenged to make decisions quickly while under the pressure of an opponent from multiple angles and under different scenarios. While starting with a ball each, as opponents recover possession of the ball and place the ball out of the playing area, attackers must now support those still in possession of their ball. This forces players to recognize danger, and also provide supporting angles best to receive the ball in open spaces. Decision making and problem solving is in an individual and group context.

  • Attacking with a MF 3 and a Withdrawn Striker

Positional possession game to begin to introduce the objectives of the session, with players in game situations from the dimensions and numbers within the game to understand the game concept. A drill follows where players are in the game situation of finding the striker in a withdrawn position, dropping deep in to the onside space between MF and DF units of opponents. Players recognize channels to play in to depending on the movement of opposition players from the ball movement and off the ball movement of supporting players.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


04’s and Older

  • Physiological Conditioning – Injury Prevention & Core Activation

A circuit of exercises to engage the core through hip hinge movements, and glute activation. A low intensity and low impact session for recovery purposes and re-entry in to the week of practice. A significant amount of time allotted to stretching, loosening up the posterior chain, and hip-flexor muscles.

04 and 02 age groups practice small sided rondos, in a low impact session for managing intensity following the weekend games.

  • Playing out of the Back

Rondos and positional games to introduce the concepts of the playing style to the players. Cognitive and socio-affective structures of the players optimized, while game concepts of player mobility to open up passing channels and mutual assistance spaces to safely play from defensive areas, and utilizing short and long passes to play out of high pressure areas.

  • Build Up Play with a Goalkeeper and Back 4

Continuation of the concepts worked on in the early session of the week. Session starts with a positional game to reinforce the concepts and playing style, then progressing to a drill for high repetition and variability of the playing out of the back situation. Conditions are applied to the opponents to ensure that when they regain possession,  there is a quick turnover in possession so the objective of the session can remain the focus and be repeated. Player recognition of open channels within the playing field to attack forward at the earliest opportunity and to transition from Zone A to B safely without giving away possession of the ball.


Every session is structured to facilitate all four pillars of the players development, and to include challenges, targets, and competition to get players to push themselves further. We are a program that heavily focuses on the players individual development, and not to get caught up in the race for trophies and excessive travel to unnecessary tournaments. If you ever have any questions about the Fremont YSC philosophy, and the proactive curriculum, we are always available to answer.

Breakdown of mechanics in technique – https://www.fremontyouthsoccer.com/technical-tactical/

Games are Coming!

We are just a day away from the start of the Fall season, we are now at a time that is equivalent to waiting inline for a roller-coaster ride!

Before we get stuck in to the playing of the games it is important that we cover some very important issues, making sure we are all pulling in the same direction, expectations are managed, and we make sure the experience is about the youth player and not the adult.

The focus must remain on the individual player, the progress and development primarily with the ball at their feet, the comfort to be in possession of the ball, and the willingness to try and at times ultimately fail. Youth soccer (not adult), is an individual sport within a team context.


As soon as we lose sight of the big picture and only focus on the scoreline, it is the child that misses out, and the adults take over. Here are a few important factors to keep in mind.

A Good Coach Does Not Joystick

Joy-sticking is killing the game, stifling youth development, and wrecking the interpretation of what a good coach is.

Joy-sticking is the constant shouting of instruction at the player. While shouting at the player so they make your decision from the sideline on the field, the worst of all joy-sticking is when giving instructions to the player in possession of the ball. The kids are not mini-PlayStation’s living out FIFA in real life. This is not coaching.  A good coach will be looking away from the ball, providing guidance to players and not telling them what to do, but providing information to help them find the answer.

Here is a great article to help understand what joy-sticking is – https://www.stack.com/a/what-is-joysticking-the-coaching-tactic-killing-youth-sports?fbclid=IwAR2dgs-CuL6oRLZPBFyy1dpIsDWsup35ak-5IAS9AOXtse_NEFXNFbICyJ8

Shouting at players is not coaching

Shouting at players is sadly a cultural thing, which for so long has been the benchmark of what is a good coach. The louder and more often the coach shouts, the better that coach must be. This is so painfully wrong.

When we put this in to context, we have an adult shouting at a child while they are playing, and trying to learn, when we break it down to this it’s easier to see why it is so inappropriate. If another child was to shout at a child like this while playing we would consider it bullying, so why is it O.K. for a ‘coach’ to do this. There is a huge dropout rate at 14 years old of youths playing sports, from pressure and abusive adults. Changing the Game Project highlights why this form of coaching is so toxic – https://changingthegameproject.com/abusive-coaching-tolerated-sports/?fbclid=IwAR3YFbXwpaPSzUPD9XDYO74GfLq5D6tWh1kv09IhyNelI6QZyUevcJLrBUc

Silent Sideline

We ask that parents remain silent on the touchline. We understand you are passionate about your child, we completely get that, and there is nothing wrong with clapping. However, instructions being shouted on are definitely not tolerated, as this has a negative affect on the players development. A player is learning to observe and interpret their surroundings within the game, and not take instructions from sidelines. Its the process of looking, observing, interpretation, decision making, then action, that develops the fast player. A parent or coach shouting on to the field does not benefit the player, and in fact hinders the player.

The modern element of pedagogical communication is for the coach to be the facilitator of learning, and the not the ‘doer’. The coach must refrain from being the protagonist of an action, and is is even more important for the parent to understand, and therefore be supportive from the sidelines without the influence of decision making.

Psychological Development is an Important Pillar

More and more we are hearing about retired professional players suffering from mental illness. This is the result of their career as an elite professional, and the experience of the old ‘hair dryer’ treatment they would receive from coaches. As research and coach education has developed over the recent years our understanding of player psychology has taken on a greater role. When we put this into the perspective of youths playing sports, the more we reflect the adult game on to children the more damage we are doing. The following is a great little clip from TalkSport where there is an example of an older coach still not considering the impact a coach has on the mental health of a player.

TalkSport – Bullying

 

Week 6 Review

The following contains information about the weeks practice. The email will outline the sessions that have been completed and what the players worked on. We have a player centric, proactive curriculum which ensures the players will cover all the necessary mechanics, skill work, and give players a chance to be decision makers and creative players. Through the long-term development from U8 to U19, the players will pass through different stages and priorities as outlined in the program welcome meeting.

While during practice the players will be given the tools they need, if an individual wants to push on with playing at a higher level and performing to the best of their ability, practicing at home will always give them that extra edge, and we can’t encourage enough for those with passion for the sports to practice in their own time. This also avoids unnecessary over-training of structured practices continuously throughout the week.


ADP Training Pool, U8 and Competitive Ages

  • Dribbling 1

Technical session working on the mechanical breakdown of the player in possession of the ball, traveling with the ball at their feet. Multi-directional with changes of speed, helps the players conditional, coordination, and cognitive structure. Conditions and challenges are added to the practice to increase intensity of the exercise, in speed of thought and action, with opposition added later in the practice for skill acquisition. Small sided games at the end of the practice with conditions for a high repetition in dribbling during a game context.

  • Small Sided Games, Free Play, Pre-Season.

Both sessions during this week were for Small Sided Games. A 3v3 to 4v4 format where players play the sport. Gaining game insight and intelligence while playing the sport in a pressure free environment


11’s to 08’s Competitive Teams

  • Dribbling 1

Technical session working on the mechanical breakdown of the player in possession of the ball, traveling with the ball at their feet. Multi-directional with changes of speed, helps the players conditional, coordination, and cognitive structure. Conditions and challenges are added to the practice to increase intensity of the exercise, in speed of thought and action, with opposition added later in the practice for skill acquisition. Small sided games at the end of the practice with conditions for a high repetition in dribbling during a game context.

  • SSG 2

Small sided games gives the player the game insight and knowledge from a micro scale of the full 11v11 model. Players have to utilize space, recognize pressure from opposition, and develop communication throughout the team to achieve a set target. The small sided game is a possession based game in a numbers up situation of 4v3, with a target of splitting the area occupied by the 4th defender.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


07’s to 05’s

  • Physiological Conditioning – Agility

A fun in competition against other individual players from 3 other teams. A slalom sprint leads the player in to a small playing area, where the first player to enter collects a pinnie and becomes the ‘tagger’. The 3 remaining players must avoid getting tagged. The second set then includes the ball, where players are in a 1v1 situation with the defender. All sets and reps are adjusted for the age group, and repetitions are times to allow for rest periods.

  • Pre-Season Scrimmage

The majority of teams participate in scrimmages against other Fremont YSC teams, to further physiologically prepare for the upcoming seasons games. Playing periods are gradually extended over the weeks to increase the workload placed upon the players to reach a game realistic duration of play, while also taking in to consideration the practice cycle throughout the week. Depending on age the game periods were adjusted, and rotation made between the playing teams. While fitness is the main objective of the pre-season game, this also give teams the opportunity to optimize game insight and communication in a playing context.

  • Thursdays Free Play

Free play is vitally important, and more of this is needed in youth sports. https://www.soccertoday.com/platini-soaf-let-youth-players-be-kids-they-are-not-pros-yet/ This gives empowerment to the individual player to perform with creative actions and to use the game situation to problem solve, not relying on the instructions from external sources outside of the games context.


04’s and Older

  • Physiological Conditioning – Agility

A fun in competition against other individual players from 3 other teams. A slalom sprint leads the player in to a small playing area, where the first player to enter collects a pinnie and becomes the ‘tagger’. The 3 remaining players must avoid getting tagged. The second set then includes the ball, where players are in a 1v1 situation with the defender. All sets and reps are adjusted for the age group, and repetitions are times to allow for rest periods.

  • Pre-Season Scrimmage

The majority of teams participate in scrimmages against other Fremont YSC teams, to further physiologically prepare for the upcoming seasons games. Playing periods are gradually extended over the weeks to increase the workload placed upon the players to reach a game realistic duration of play, while also taking in to consideration the practice cycle throughout the week. Depending on age the game periods were adjusted, and rotation made between the playing teams. While fitness is the main objective of the pre-season game, this also give teams the opportunity to optimize game insight and communication in a playing context.

  • Pre-Season Scrimmage

The majority of teams participate in scrimmages against other Fremont YSC teams, to further physiologically prepare for the upcoming seasons games. Playing periods are gradually extended over the weeks to increase the workload placed upon the players to reach a game realistic duration of play, while also taking in to consideration the practice cycle throughout the week. Depending on age the game periods were adjusted, and rotation made between the playing teams. While fitness is the main objective of the pre-season game, this also give teams the opportunity to optimize game insight and communication in a playing context.


Every session is structured to facilitate all four pillars of the players development, and to include challenges, targets, and competition to get players to push themselves further. We are a program that heavily focuses on the players individual development, and not to get caught up in the race for trophies and excessive travel to unnecessary tournaments. If you ever have any questions about the Fremont YSC philosophy, and the proactive curriculum, we are always available to answer.

Breakdown of mechanics in technique – https://www.fremontyouthsoccer.com/technical-tactical/

UK Trip 2019 – Day 8

Day 8 was a very busy day. With practice cancelled so we could spend more time in London, it was an early start to go see the changing of the Queen’s guards. A very busy area of London, around Buckingham Palace, with thousands of people lining the streets and packing the sidewalks, and all this while the City of London goes about it’s normal business day. In roasting hot heat, not often seen in the UK, the players looked on in amazement at the spectacle of the Beefeaters marching down the street, accompanied by the marching band. We watched from the left of the palace, on the roundabout as suggested by our tour guide, Flying Scotsman, Jack. After the pomp, we headed to the gates for a closer look, working our way through the huge crowds to get a glimpse of the palace gates and guards on duty.

After the morning with the Queen, the group headed to it’s next stadium tour, Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, and breaking up so Eric and Ricardo could visit their beloved, trophy-less Arsenal, a stadium with more empty cabinets than IKEA.

The following is Eric’s account of his boyhood dream of visiting the Emirates –

We took the London underground from Green Park to Holloway Road. From there, it was a short walk to the massive home ground for Arsenal FC. To give a brief history of the club, they were founded in 1886 and had originally played at Highbury until 2006. Their old stadium could hold up to 40,000 spectators, where as the Emirates can hold up to 60,000. The club’s history goes back to over 100 years, but perhaps they’re best known for their teams during the early 2000s Premier League era. Some notable players to have been part of those teams are Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, and Dennis Bergkamp. They’re the only club during the Premier League era to go a whole season undefeated, temporarily gaining the nickname, ‘The Invincibles.’

Emirates Stadium is massive, and there is plenty to see inside and out of it. Just outside of the stadium for the general public to view are several statues and murals. One can find the ‘Celebration Corner,’ which is a photo-mural of players celebrating their goals from a famous moment. Along the walls of the Emirates are enlarged photos of notable players with quotes about them from fans and colleagues. Then they’re statues of some of their most iconic former players. Along the outside perimeter of the Emirates is the statues of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, and Herbert Chapman. They make great for a photo op.

The stadium tour begins from inside the Armoury Store, Arsenal’s very own fan shop. It’s a self-guided tour in which the attendee receives a tablet-like device with earbuds. The listener can choose who narrates the tour and may go at their own pace. It was an interesting experience because we got to take our time at each part of the tour, however listening to a recording about the stadium wasn’t as interesting as hearing from the tour staff. Although the tablet had interactive features like a camera that would show a behind-the-scenes video of the first team, and video highlights of games, the best part of the tour was about what was physically in front of you. The tour staff are sparse throughout different areas of the stadium. Even though the tablet gives plenty of information, we enjoyed listening to the staff because they’ve been true fans for years. We spoke to a couple staff members, and they shared many of their memories and experiences as Arsenal fans. It felt more genuine and authentic than the tablet because the recordings can get stale.

During the tour we got to see a bust of Arsene Wenger, director’s box view of the pitch, a time capsule of important items from Arsenal’s history, the player’s tunnel, changing rooms with the players’ jerseys, press room, and best of all, go pitch side and sit right where the first team does. Their pitch is fantastic, and we even got to see the grounds men cut the grass. Tour staff told us that it’s a synthetic pitch, quite like at St. George’s Park and Old Trafford. We took our time in that area, as we enjoyed sitting where the players sat. They’ve got some comfy seats.

The tour ended with us right back the Armoury, where we spent a good amount of time gift shopping. However, the overall experience wasn’t quite over, because there was still Arsenal’s Museum. There we saw a visual history of the club. It’s split into two areas: one for their beginning up until around the 60s, and another for their modern era. In each area one can find various objects of importance that represent an iconic moment or player. It’s a nice museum and I felt that it taught more than that tablet.

Overall the tour experience was quite excellent, and we’d love to come back on a gameday. Walking though an empty stadium was nice because we get to take in all the history and learn about the club. After that, we could only imagine what it would be like on a game day. The atmosphere and amount of people would surely make it a complete experience (as well as a win!).

    

UK Trip 2019 – Day 7

The start of our first full day in London. And what a start… an incredible breakfast buffet at the hotel. We can now see why Swansea City stayed at the hotel!

Following our fill up of food, we head to the football cages, ‘Goals Gilette Corner’, just around the corner from the VAR station near Heathrow airport. The center has multiple playing fields specific for small sided games, where teams of 5v5 play in a tight area with walls all around the playing area so the game doesn’t stop, and players need to react at speed, and this increases the speed of decision making of the player. Players in Europe are rarely coaches, and develop by playing in these centers with their friends. In the South of London there is a huge talent pool of players where they have grown up playing on these types of fields, where cages are available all throughout the neighborhoods.

Exhausted from the mornings practice, we freshen up at the hotel and have lunch, ready to take on London and the underground. Our first experience of the underground was a successful one, we all made it on and off at the right stations. We spent the afternoon exploring the area around Westminster, the location of Big Ben and the House’s of Parliament, and a conveniently located red telephone box! We managed to cover over 9 miles of walking throughout the day, and that didn’t even include a 1 hour sightseeing tour along the River Thames on a boat.

The day ended with groups separating, some players exhausted heading back to the hotel early, while the tours ‘Spice Boys’ wanted to head to the shops on Oxford Street.

Spice Boy, Jose, pointing in the direction of the next shop!

 

UK Trip 2019 – Day 6

Bright eyed and bushy tailed for breakfast, we met in the lobby for our last full English meal in Manchester. Afterwards, we repacked our bags, loaded the bus, and made our way London, but not before we stopped at St. George’s Park for a tour.

With construction finishing in 2012, it took 18 months for the entire project, including the on-site Hilton Hotel to be completed. This world-class training center is the home of England’s 28 national teams, spanning 330 acres across the Staffordshire countryside. This mult-million complex has hosted many world class teams such as Manchester United, Barcelona, and Ajax. Here, they can use the outstanding pitches, sport science facilities, and stay at the Hilton hotel which is right on site. They have several world-class facilities that include a gym, pool, and even an underwater treadmill. We got to see them all, and even got to sit in the dressing room of the English national team. After exiting the dressing room, we saw their wall full of autographs from players that have trained there. This includes former and current players, but also world-class superstars like Messi. There were over 50 other autographs from players such as David Beckham, Radamel Falcao, and Andres Iniesta.

There are 13 outdoor pitches including the Sir Bobby Charlton Wembley replica pitch. This is a hybrid pitch that costs a million pounds that’re artificial and grass stitched. Their indoor pitch is considered one of the flattest in the world – being checked by the FA every year. We left St. George’s Park more than impressed.

After St. George’s Park we had lunch, and then made our way to London. It was a long ride, but we got to enjoy a brief view of Windsor Castle. Once we arrived at Cheswick’s Clayton Hotel, Swansea’s very own team were leaving for their match against QPR. We got to see them board their own bus, and just a couple hours later we got to see them beat QPR away from home, 3-1.

This was a Championship match, which is one level below the Premier league, being played at Loftus Road – just a 20 minute ride from our hotel. Both sides have been in the Premier League and are now competing to see who can make back up. All our players and staff were completely engaged in the match, as the atmosphere was incredible. We could hear the Swansea away fans singing from outside the stadium, and we could hear them singing the entire match. It might’ve been because they were in the lead most of the game, but the Swansea traveling fans never let up their cheers and supported their team with a passion and enthusiasm that can’t be rivaled anywhere inside an MLS game. This was truly a special experience for our players, as they got to see a club play not just for themselves, but for their brilliant fans. Their win didn’t just look like a team effort, it was a genuine club effort.

The songs, the cheers, applause, and even the displeasure were some of the loudest we’ve heard in a stadium, and it wasn’t at capacity. It showed us how passionate the club’s supporters are, and how football is intertwined with their identity. Everyone had such a great time, and we couldn’t be happier that we got to experience such a fantastic atmosphere.

After the game, we made our way back to Clayton Hotel to get some rest. It was a day full of travel and football, and we can’t wait for more.

UK Trip 2019 – Day 5

Day 4 started off with a bang, an early start down to breakfast with the team and a walk over to the playing fields behind the Sports Village stadium, where both Manchester Utd U23’s and Woman’s team play

This was to be the final training session during our time in Manchester. The training session was mainly focused on shooting and agility. A warm up activity followed by physiological development in an agility game competed within the teams, and finished off with a shooting activity to develop from a 1 v 1 situation in to a 2 v 1 and 2 v 2 situation depending on the context of the game. We even got to experience some UK rain, with the final few minutes of the practice playing out in freezing cold rain. However, after a nice shower, there was a noticeable rise in morale.

 

We then started on the long journey to Chester. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester

Parking next to Chester Castle, the group headed off towards the city center by walking along the ancient walls that surround the city, and passing under the famous Eastgate Clock. When everyone finished their lunch at a roast meat shop, we split up into smaller groups and traversed around the town. One of the groups roamed around the wide array of shops while another group explored the many churches and bridges that Chester had to offer. Finishing our trip with a treat, the groups came together and enjoyed ice cream while watching over the Chester Canal. We had a fantastic time and loved venturing through the city.

Spice Boys on Tour

UK Trip 2019 – Day 4

A bright and early start at 7:30am, and first stop our hotel breakfast at the hotel to energize before heading to the practice facilities.

Today’s session was a scrimmage session, using small sided games in the ‘football cage’, with the coaches taking part and splitting up on to the 2 teams. A fun session to give everyone a kick of energy to help overcome the jetlag. For preseason purposes the games were timed to 4 rounds of 20 minutes with  a 5 minute break in between, to cover a total playing duration of 80 minutes as we build towards the first game of the season. The games were high intensity, technical, and very strategical in both possession and recovery of the ball. Everyone was exhausted after the practice, and once we got back to the hotel everyone went to their rooms to take a shower before eating lunch at the hotel.

Today was one of the highlights of the trip, as we headed to Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, the ‘Theater of Dreams’. First on the agenda was the museum, so much rich history from its beginnings as Newton Heath, and having so many incredible players pull on the Manchester United jersey during it’s incredible history. The trophy cabinet was 3 completely full rooms of trophies and cups (maybe they could let Arsenal borrow a couple for their museum!). Although an incredibly decorated history of success, we learned about the humbling history of the Munich Air Disaster, where many Manchester United players and staff lost their lives following a European Cup game.

After exploring the museum we had a lecture about health and what you have to do to become a pro player. There was a huge emphasis on education and the importance of being a good player, and the belief that to be a good player you also need to be a good human being. We learned diet and sleep are so important, and it takes real dedication to be the best. The team was then incredibly excited for what was a huge surprise, as we were given the chance to wear some of the worlds greatest players jersey’s, the actual jersey they wore.

The day kept going, now moving on to the tour. The tour guide taught us a lot about the history of the stadium, including the bombings during World War 2. After the tour ended we spent a good hour in the club shop, and the majority of the team bought some new Manchester United merchandise, new fans for many years to come. Then we had dinner at a local restaurant called Hotel Football, a place next to Old Trafford, owned by the Class of 92. To bring an end to our evening, we fittingly watched Manchester United play out a 1-1 draw with Wolves.