Looking to improve player training, members of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association visited Excelsior Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Ezra Cremers, head coach and executive director for SOYSA, Paulo Araujo and his son Joshua, along with Manuel Borba and his son Joaquim, visited SOYSA’s professional affiliate team to learn how they develop their players.
Borba described it as an excellent trip.
“We got involved with their youth academies and watched their under-eight right through to how the under-19’s train,” said Borba, a coach and board member in SOYSA.
The three got involved with the coaches (Marco van Lochem) and learned about their system, toured their facilities and talked to their manager (Ferry de Haan). They also watched the professional team train and play.
“They have the reputation of the best youth academies in the world,” said Borba. “They lived up to the expectations that we had.”
Upon their arrival, the two boys were included with the academy players immediately. Araujo and Borba played four games for the academy and trained five times.
“For the boys it was a really good eye-opener,” said Manuel, adding that both boys brought their understanding of the commitment those players show and told their friends.
“Our goal next year is we take six to eight kids over there to train and we do this on a regular basis and give the kids an experience of a life-time,” said Manuel.
“He enjoyed it very much,” said Paulo of his son. “He got to play in a stadium and they were welcoming to him. The first day they put him playing with the team. He was pretty happy.”
Paulo described it as an amazing trip.
“For somebody that’s involved in football and the fact we spent all those days immersed in a professional program like that, is an opportunity that if any other coach has it, they should take it,” he said.
The concensus is that both sides can benefit from a partnership, especially the Pinnacles learning of the Dutch system.
“Holland is one of the leading countries on how to play the game,” said Paulo. “Especially the possession game, their philosophy is pretty cool. If you see teams like Barcelona and the top teams of Europe, a lot of those tactics have originated from Holland,” he said. “It starts right with their youth at seven or eight-years-old teaching them how to play the game properly. It was interesting to see compared to here, where we don’t even do that.”
Paulo also said Excelsior is using size five soccer balls with kids, but at a lighter weight. That allows them to get used to the ball.
Cremers said the trip is “monumental to PFC as it has led to the general manager Ferry de Haan and youth head coach Marco van Lochem to come to Penticton (in November) to look at our club in more detail for future endeavours.”
While talking to de Haan and van Lochem, Manuel presented the SOYSA philosophy and expressed they feel there is an untapped market.
“All these kids are good athletes,” said Manuel. “Probably not technically as strong as what they are over there, but just as good of athletes.”