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.”
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