Image: Southern Soccer Academy - Coaching Education Trip

Southern Soccer Academy - Coaching Education Trip

Posted by Marketing, 25th February 2016

***VIDEO*** To watch the video version of this interview - please click here.

Global Image Sports (GIS) have long been proud advocates of the benefits of Coaching Education and our partnerships with professional European football clubs only serve to advance this crucial aspect of the modern game. All soccer playing nations from the CONCACAF to UEFA will widely cite the huge positives a well-informed, rounded coaching programme can produce when it comes to player welfare, development, education and ultimately, their character on the journey to becoming an adult.

Recently – GIS helped the Southern Soccer Academy (SSA), a club of over 8,000 players (who predominantly work in Georgia, Alabama and Florida), send their key staff to our partner – A.C. ChievoVerona. The Director of Coaching for SSA is Simon Davey – a former player and later manager for several professional clubs in England. Most notable of these was his stint at Barnsley which saw them reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup in the 2007/08 season. Indeed – Simon once played alongside David Beckham in the early stages of his career!

The SSA coaches were given complete behind the scenes access to the ChievoVerona academy facilities and coaching staff. The International Development Officer at Chievo, Davide Caliaro, was instrumental in securing lectures from the Academy Director (Marco Fioretto), Chief Scout (Cristian Cantarelli) and also the head of the Primavera (second team), Lorenzo D’Anna. These key figures within Chievo were able to talk directly to the group and present their ideas of coaching philosophy, the importance of technical development, sports science and technology as well as the ways in which they bring players to the club and create an environment to nurture player expression but also education and individual quality. D’Anna himself played several years in Serie A, notably at Fiorentina and part of his lecture involved a discussion on the transition from academy player to adult and what can be done at the youth level to prepare for these demands.

In addition to the lectures and open access to the key academy personnel – the coaching staff from SSA were invited out onto the pitches at the Bottagisio Sports Centre (a brand new $10 million development undertaken by the club to house the academy players). They spent 4 hours a day here observing and asking questions of the Chievo coaches and taking in the environment and what it offers in terms of dedicated academy training and application. Bottagisio also houses the second team players and offers residential facilities as well as an authentic Italian trattoria which makes outstanding coffee and local Veronese food!

Towards the end of the week and the culmination of the training observations and lectures – GIS Chief Operating Officer Mike Kelleher joined the group as they attended a behind closed doors first team training session and got the opportunity to undertake a Q and A with the First Team Coach – Rolando Maran. The last day saw the group attend live games between Chievo and Juventus and then took their seats in the San Siro for the Internazionale vs AC Milan derby! They also managed to get some sights of Verona in one day and explore the cultural heritage of this wonderful Italian city.

For Davey – the benefits of the programme provided by GIS were tantamount: “The facilities are first class; and for us (SSA) who are trying to build a programme, the access you get is superb. I cannot thank the staff enough - it helps us develop our own programmes and take a level of education back to America that is hugely beneficial in implementing within our ‘pay to play’ model.”

Several of the SSA staff who attended the course will also perform administrative functions within the management of the club back in America so Chievo were able to tailor individual aspects of the trip to discuss these particular roles and how the model differs between America and Italy, helping to guide any future plans within these discussions.

Above all however, it was the access and information about the playing styles and the fact that the coaches could walk right up to a training session and ask questions that set the trip apart. Chievo’s methods have produced large numbers of professional players over the years and seeing what makes this kind of success possible will only be of benefit in adapting to the American model. Davey added: “They have a certain way of doing things here and will not compromise on those aspects…for us to see how they develop the player, remain consistent in those methods and then provide a solid base for him to thrive…this is the real benefit to doing this. The access is unrivalled and working with GIS enables us to bring this knowledge back to our clubs in America.”

GIS have seen first-hand the benefits of these coaching education programmes and the positive impacts such a trip can have on the development of the game in North America, South East Asia, Mexico and Oceania. From simple things to coaching session design, individual drills or specific progressions to the bigger picture work such as player welfare, education and environment/facilities – the tangibles from a trip like this can be directly applied to your own club in whatever way suits the model. Above all though – it is the player who is the hidden beneficiary of this kind of experience. Better informed coaches can result in a better understanding and a more personable, holistic level of coaching that creates a more rounded footballer with a greater breadth of skills and character. For more information on coaching education – please click here.

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