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Posted by Marketing, 22nd January 2016
In December 2015 – Central Virginia United – one of Global Image Sport’s partner clubs – took part in a club tour of the UK. The trip saw them take in academy training at Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C., Stoke City F.C. and West Ham United alongside the chance to see some UK sights and live matches. On arrival back in the USA – GIS caught up with Kevin Fabulich from the club and asked him about the experience the group had.
Hi Kevin – nice to meet you. Can you tell us a bit about your role currently within Central Virginia United (CVU) FC as well as your soccer background in general?
Funnily enough - I’ve just completed my first year as the Executive Director of the club! Prior to that, I worked as a Division III College Coach and with the Olympic Development Programme for 7 years. I’ve always had a link with CVU as I knew the previous Director. We’ve had loads of great experiences within this club over the years and it’s great to be involved in a capacity where we can make it grow. The club has been in existence from 1977 and we have some 27 teams comprising 1100 players who come through the club each year.
How was the trip in summary would you say?
In a word – great! Because we flew in December there was a slight bit of nervousness and apprehension heading to Europe but once the information got sent out and we were met by the GIS chaperones on the ground – everything relaxed and we had a brilliant time.
CVU are partnered with our professional club – Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) – how has this partnership helped the club over previous seasons?
This is our second year with Wolves and GIS now. The facilities they have are absolutely first class – on a different level to anything we have here. You can sense the passion within the academy buildings and on a day to day basis with the other players – it’s something we have access to as a club and helps us develop the players and make them aware of using these opportunities to their benefit.
What is the reaction to these facilities you visit?
Wolves is something special, the parents are appreciative at the quality and there is an area in the indoor arena where they can all stand above the pitch and watch the training/games whilst talking to other parents from the academy – a nice touch. This year, we had the chance to go to St George’s Park – the home of English football…what a location! Even though it was a bad day weather-wise, to be in a place like that – where else in the world do you get access to that kind of facility!?
What are the things you notice that the players get from these tours?
I think for us (Kevin and his coaching staff), the thing we notice is the fact the coaches get the players out of their comfort zone and set them a higher standard to aspire to. In the States – they are in a region they do fairly well in and have a certain level of technical ability so to be pushed like this in the UK has a good impact on them. It makes them think about the higher level of the game and reinforces the CVU message – so that’s great from our point of view. Paul Heffer at West Ham in particular pushes these boundaries with the players and they respond in kind.
It sounds as though there is a club-wide benefit to this process then?
Yes – most definitely – and that’s so much more noticeable in the off-field facilities and infrastructure. The coaching and quality of delivery is one thing but this is the difference maker that GIS helps to provide. We get the kids to see the educational side and the welfare of the academy players that has to be taken into consideration. Then on top of that – we have access to tactics, video, imagery, analysis software and resources that are unprecedented and things that the players have never seen before. The education and development of the player from young to old is taken care of in such a great way with this kind of setup – that’s probably the single most outstanding aspect of this particular tour – the level of detail and giving CVU players and staff a target to aspire to.
How did you get on in the matches you played in and watched?
The CVU girls played the Doncaster Belles in the Wolves Academy indoor arena – we had a few players mixed into the team but it was a great game, valuable experience and the parents formed a great rapport on the balcony above! We coached the teams and the players were able to put into practice some of the things we had done in the UK prior. In terms of the live games – we saw West Brom beat Stoke City 2-1 as well as West Ham beating Southampton 2-1…the passion at these matches is extraordinary. There’s an intensity to it – a serious rivalry that creates an incredible experience for all involved – the kids try to pick up on the chants!
Will you be doing another one of these tours in the future?
Absolutely! Next year we plan to do this again – it was great, we enjoyed it and it helps with the promotion of the club and its aims. We have a few tricky situations to negotiate with the change in birth year and player registrations but I think safe to say we’ll be back next year around the same period.
You mentioned earlier about apprehension and nervousness before flying – can we just ask how that was for you on the ground?
It was understandable given recent world events but once we landed and were met by the GIS chaperone – we didn’t even notice it. The GIS team are very professional in the way they handle things and they make sure someone is with you who knows the area and is a great asset to the group. We had the same bus driver for the entire week so he becomes one of the team too! Having such quality support and access to facilities is the greatest strength of this GIS partnership. I know they have grown a lot in recent years and we’re pleased to be able to work alongside a company who has many different partnerships across the sporting world. They take great care to make these tours fit our needs and then ensure the experience is one to remember.
Kevin was talking to Darran Walter, Operations and Professional Club Liaison Officer at Global Image Sports. For more information on Central Virginia United – click here. For info on GIS tours or trips – please click here.