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ECNL Is More Than A League

By Ohio Elite, 02/02/18, 9:45AM EST

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Frohlich Continues Education In Spain

Girls Juniors Director of Coaching, Toby Frohlich, traveled to Valencia, Spain, for the ECNL International Coaching Program from December 8-17. The course was co-hosted by the World Football Academy, who is founded and run by Raymond Verheijen, and by Valencia CF. 

“The ECNL International Coaching Program was without a doubt the most informational and valuable coaching education I have received in my time as a coach.  The World Football Academy – Football Tactics Course provided clear, objective coaching information in how to improve the game. Raymond Verheijen is a great instructor with a passion to improve the game across the world. His insight and knowledge are things I am looking forward to taking back to my teams and club in an effort to make us better.” – Toby Frohlich, Junior Girls Director for Ohio Elite Academy.

Raymond Verheijen has worked with top clubs, countries, and governing bodies across the globe as a coach and consultant:

  • EURO 2000 with Holland 
  • World Cup U20 with Holland
  • World Cup 2002 with South Korea 
  • EURO 2004 with Holland 
  • World Cup 2006 with South Korea
  • EURO 2008 with Russia
  • Women’s EURO 2009 with Holland
  • World Cup 2010 with South Korea
  • EURO 2012 with Russia
  • World Cup 2014 with Argentina
  • Glasgow Rangers
  • Barcelona
  • Zenit St. Petersburg
  • Chelsea
  • Manchester City
  • Feyenoord 
  •  Wales

Verheijen has published multiple books about football periodization, theory, coaching youth, and has traveled the world putting on coaching education courses. 

Valencia CF is a professional club in Valencia, Spain, and compete in arguably the best professional league in the world, La Liga. 

Domestically, Valencia CF has won 6 La Liga titles, 2 Segunda Division titles, 7 Copa del Rey titles, 1 Supercopa de Espana title, and 1 Copa Eva Duarte title. In European competition, Valencia CF has one 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 UEFA Cup, 2 Fairs Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 1 UEFA Intertoto Cup, and has been runners-up 2 times in the UEFA Champions League. 

Course Set Up: 

Day 1: Arrive in Spain. Saw Valencia CF vs. Celta de Vigo at the Estadio Mestalla (Valencia’s stadium). Valencia CF won the match 2-1. 

Day 2: First day of Verheijen’s course; Football Theory: Communication, Decision Making, and Executing Decisions. The course was from 9:00am-5:00pm. Upon completion of the course, we headed off to see Barcelona vs. Villarreal. Barcelona won 2-0 and we got to see Messi and Suarez score!!!!!! This was a truly unbelievable experience. We got to see the best player to ever play the game score. 

Day 3: Final day of Verheijen’s course; Football Theory: Communication, Decision Making, and Executing Decisions. The course was from 9:00am-5:00pm.

Day 4: Meet and greet with Valencia CF youth academy staff, and a tour of the training facility. The training facility housed over 20 fields, natural grass and turf, sized for 8v8 and 11v11. 

Days 5-9: Valencia CF youth academy staff educated us on their operations, philosophy, structure, Long Term Player Development Program (LTPDP), and the execution of their LTPDP. All of these days ended with viewing of academy training sessions of boys and girls from age 6 all the way up to the Reserve Team of the Men and Women. We were fortunate enough to be able to watch their Men’s Reserve Team play on the last evening. 

Many other coaches and directors from ECNL club were in Attendance: 

  • Christian Lavers - President, ECNL; Executive Vice-President, C2SA; US Club Soccer, Strategic and Technical Consultant; Technical Director, FC Wisconsin. 
  • Nick Kasper - Boys ECNL Director
  • Mirza Mustafic - Boys Director of Coaching, Atlanta Fire United
  • Tony Perez - ECNL Staff Coach, San Juan SC
  • Zeca Neto - Girls Director of Coaching, San Juan SC
  • Chris Maravalli - ECNL Assistant Director of Coaching, Director of Goalkeeping, Challenge SC
  • Michael Asen - Staff Coach, Challenge SC
  • Will Bates - Staff Coach, Richmond Strikers
  • Eric Dutt - ECNL Coach, Richmond United
  • Craig Peter - Staff Coach, Atlanta Fire United
  • Holly Hein - Staff Coach, Michigan Hawks
  • Matt Anderson - Staff Coach, Eagles SC
  • Jay Howell - Executive Director, Director of Soccer, Richmond Strikers
  • Caroline Clarke - Assistant Coach, UAB
  • Gary Bruce - Junior Academy Director of Coaching, Western New York Flash Academy
  • Andy Lee - Youth Director of Coaching, ECNL Coach, FC Wisconsin

Things That Stood Out for Frohlich:

Soccer Culture: Everyone that I came in contact with, Valencia staff coaches, players, fans, hotel workers, taxi cab drivers, waiters/waitresses, etc., all LOVED Valencia CF and the game of soccer. It was the topic of conversation everywhere we went. All anyone wanted to do was talk soccer and talk about Valencia CF. The atmosphere in the stadium at both Valencia and Villarreal was like nothing I have experienced before. I have been to playoff games in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and even an MLS final. These two La Liga matches were more exciting, electric, and the fans were more passionate, loud, and focused into the match than anything I have ever experienced. 

Pay to Play: While the Valencia CF top teams from ages 6 to the Reserve do NOT pay, most the other players do.  Contrary to popular belief, most clubs DO have a pay to play program for kids that are not on the top academy teams.

Training Environment: Valencia’s training grounds have a wall and fence around them. Parents, under no circumstance, are permitted into the training grounds. From the age of 6 on, the players are organized and disciplined, and train at a high level. With that being said, they are still young children, and they still laughed, joked, and were allowed to be kids!

Offside line: In the United States, we have implemented a “build out line” in our youngest ages. In Spain, they play with an “offside line”. The line is on both ends of the field and is about 25 yards away from goal. The only time youth players can be offside is in between that line and the goal line. This does a great job at promoting open play, creating many 1v1-2v2-2v1, situations, and allows the younger players to play out from the back with more success.

Organization: There is a plan (LTPDP) for the week, the month, the year, 2 years, etc., all with a clear path to hopefully promote players into Valencia CF at the senior level. All training sessions are logged and shared. The staff meets every single day. All parts of the club (coaches, lawyers, doctors, athletic trainers, directors, etc.) are all on the same page and are in line with the club philosophy.