As we reported in our previous story, three SFA players were selected to take part in Tottenham Hotspur’s Premiere Development Residential Program. Bradley Leonard, Junior Lungu and Dylan Kropp spent five days in London training at the world-renowned Tottenham Hotspur academy, which has produced such standouts as England internationals Danny Rose and Harry Kane.
“It was an amazing trip.” Said Kropp. “I wish it were longer.”
The boys travelled from Columbus to Baltimore, then took an overnight flight from Baltimore to London. Once there they took a bus ride in to London to their hotel.
There was no time to be over-awed by the occasion, as training began later that day. The training sessions were aimed at improving the players’ technical skills, something that the SFA always focuses on.
“It was very similar to what we do (at the SFA).” Said Kropp. “I felt very comfortable with the focus of the training. Some of the kids didn’t look as used to it. James (Field, SFA owner and head trainer) had me very prepared, not just physically but mentally. Before we left he let me know what to expect.”
The training sessions were punctuated by two matches, one against the Tottenham Development Academy team, and one against Queens Park Rangers’ development academy team. Both of these squads featured slightly older, bigger players, which was a problem for some of the boys, Dylan said.
“They didn’t look comfortable with the physicality. Some of these guys were two or three heads taller than me. But (Coach Field) had drilled us on separating from defenders and opening up our bodies to be in a position to play forward, so it wasn’t a big deal for us.”
It wasn’t all hard work, however. The players were given a VIP tour of White Hart Lane, Tottenham’s historic home which is set to be renovated after this season, as well as a trip through London to see the sights.
Souvenirs’ aren’t the only thing the players will be bringing home, according to Kropp. The players will also be bringing home skills to help them on the pitch.
“I learned a lot about playing against more physical opposition. I learned a lot about moving the ball quickly so they can’t tackle me or knock me down. It also helped make me more decisive.”
All in all, it was an unforgettable experience for the young men invited.
“It was really amazing.” Kropp said. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity, and for all of coach Field’s guidance and advice. He really helped get me there.”
For more information on SFA Training for boys and girls stay tuned to www.soccerfieldacademy.com and follow us on Facebook for breaking news updates!
The Soccer Field Academy is proud to announce three of our 2003-born players, Dylan Kropp, Junior Lungu, and Bradley Leonard are taking part in Tottenham Hotspur’s five-day Player Development Residential Program. They earned the invitations by virtue of their outstanding performances at the 5th annual Tottenham Hotspur America Trophy tournament, held this past December in Baltimore, Maryland. They were rated as being three of the best sixteen players in the tournament, earning invitations to London to train at Tottenham Hotspur’s world-famous academy, which has produced players such as current England Internationals Danny Rose and Harry Kane.
All three young players train with the SFA three to five times a week throughout the year, gaining valuable knowledge and experience from head SFA coach, James Field.
“I am extremely proud of all three boys. Fueled by their love of the game and relentless dedication to improving as players through countless hours of training have provided them with this amazing opportunity. I am so excited to see them be rewarded for their efforts.”
Coach Field has worked with Lungu for eight years, Kropp for three, and Leonard for the past year. Mabel Bequelman Kropp, Dylan’s mother, credits James and his guidance for the leaps her son has made.
“Without James he wouldn’t have gotten there.” She said. “Training with James has been the most amazing experience. All the hard work, both on and off the pitch, has made him a much better player. Every session there’s something new to work on, to improve on. It’s always a new challenge, and Dylan loves it.”
The players will arrive on Sunday, April 9th, and stay for a week, departing the following Sunday. While in London the players will receive world-class coaching, training sessions, and play matches. They will also get to experience London, including a tour of Tottenham’s home ground, the famous White Hart Lane.
“It’s really incredible, Dylan is counting down the days.” Said Mabel Kropp. “We owe it all to James and his training.”
For more info on SFA Programs, including enrollment, see the Academy Membership page at SoccerFieldAcademy.com
Over the years, we here at the Soccer Field Academy have developed a philosophy of growing players, enhancing their potential. This is not only an on-field endeavor, but an off the field one as well. Ensuring our students have the best possible environment for growth is important to us, and that begins at home, with friends and family. To that end, this is the first in a series of blogs designed to help educate family and friends about some simple Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to supporting your young player.
One of the hardest but most vital lessons parents must learn in order to better support their young player is one that seems simple. Yelling is bad. Shouting at players from the sidelines is not only discouraged, but is in fact detrimental, no matter how well intentioned. No matter how tempting, parents must resist the urge to shout instructions to the players. It is vitally important that the only instruction players receive comes from the coaching staff. Even if the advice coming from the parent in question is good advice, it’s important that players learn, especially in their developmental years, that coaches are who they need to be listening to.
As the players grow older and mature, this “no yelling” directive takes on an added dimension. A large part of player development is their “soccer IQ”, their ability to read the game and make their owndecisions based upon the situation. As players grow often coaches will take a step back during matches and training, leaving more and more of the decision making to the players. The main reason for this is to sharpen their tactical awareness. For players to continue to develop this must be respected.
That’s not to say that complete silence is expected, or even wanted. Cheering on your young player, and more importantly the team, is always encouraged. Cheering for goals, clapping for good passages of play, anything you’d expect to see a crowd doing at a professional game is generally acceptable, as long as it’s encouraging and not distracting to the players.
Another vital component to creating a positive learning environment is to avoid placing too many pressures on your child. Critiquing their performance immediately following the match or training session in the car on the way home is usually not the best approach. Children naturally want to please their parents, so this type of immediate critique can be demoralizing, negatively impacting future training and matches. Instead let your child first approach you about the game and stick to asking open-ended questions in order to have them reflect on their own performance. This dialogue not only takes pressure off your young player, but can help them think more critically of their own performance in a constructive environment. Stay tuned for more blogs on the do’s and don’ts of supporting your young players, and if you have any questions please reach out via the comments, email, or Facebook!
Today's session was so amazing! I decided to organize a mini tournament for the boys. Each team represented a European team; Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Arsenal (the most supported team in Kenya!), Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich. The boys were divided into 12 teams of 5 players and we played 4v4 games in which if you won your 6-min game, you would proceed up the ladder to eventually play at the top field. Any draw was settled by a game of rock, paper, scissors, which was new to most of the boys. The talent on display was amazing! The kids are so gifted with the ball! It was amazing, seeing these kids playing on a dirt field, with no grass, uneven, layered with rocks, plastic bottles, sticks, stones and goat poo. The kids do not care, they are so excited to play! The games were extremely competitive and fun to watch. The eventual winners were Real Madrid and were so happy to receive captain armbands as their prize for winning the tournament!
Unfortunately, I had run out of the candy yesterday that I brought from the US, so I found a small shack selling Oreo cookies, so I purchased as many 6-packs of Oreo cookies as I could for the kids at the end of the day, cleaning out the store. Dishearteningly , most kids are only receiving 1-2 meals per day, so an Oreo cookie is quite the treat. I handed out Oreo cookies and wristbands to each participating player in the tournament and captains arms bands and SFA T-shirts to the top 3 teams.
During the past few days, I have become quite attached to some of these kids (Juma, Abbas, Mohamed, Emmanuel, Siadi), it is hard to be leaving on Sunday, but not before watching their regular Sunday league games.
Today began with myself and Ben discussing a strategy for implementing a grading scale for each of the local youth clubs here in Likoni, in order to raise the standards. The concept behind the grading scale is to improve the quality of each and every youth club here in Likoni, and in turn the clubs will have an incentive when they raise their scores, such as additional soccer shoes, soccer apparel, balls and coaching resources. Providing such resources for these young players is so critical to the further the child's enjoyment and development. The game provides hope and enjoyment to kids that otherwise have very little to look forward to each week.
What is needed most are soccer balls. Without proper equipment we can not ensure a proper training environment. With that said, the kids are so resourceful and as such many of the kids make their own soccer balls, by collecting the many trash bags that litter the streets and are held together by string. The youth clubs are also in need of cleats for the players. Unfortunately, when the best players in Likoni finally have an opportunity to be scouted for the next level, the common occurrence is that they do not progress since they are not comfortable wearing soccer cleats for the first time and it is hard for them to adapt in such a short period, such as a week long youth soccer trial. The coaches also do not have enough cones or pinnies to organize and conduct the most basic of training sessions for the players.
What they are not lacking is eagerness, optimism, a strong work ethic and talent. These young players see their participation in the beautiful game as a something to look forward too each week, and it shows. It has been a joy to watch them play.
If you would like to learn more about ways in which you can support the league, please send me an email at JField@SoccerFieldAcademy.com