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U.S. Soccer's CoachesNet Concludes Six-Day Trip to Buenos Aires

CHICAGO (April 20, 2009) – U.S. Soccer’s CoachesNet has concluded its inaugural international educational trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The trip to Argentina offered coaches a chance to interact and learn from professional coaches outside the United States, with the objective to offer unique educational opportunities to its members.

For six days and five nights, attendees of the trip conferred with members of professional coaching staffs, toured the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (AFA) training complex, spoke with AFA youth coaches, attended two Primera Divisón games, analyzed professional training sessions and visited some of the most well-known stadiums and landmarks in the city.

After settling in and enjoying a fine Argentinean lunch on the first day, the group listened to an informative talk by Claudio Texeiria, a scout with Estudiantes de La Plata, a Primera Divisón club. Coach Texeiria spoke about youth development, the role he plays as a scout, and the development of coaches in Argentina. In any given year, over 10,000 boys will be scouted by Estudiantes. Of which, only a handful will actually be chosen to play for the club.

Different then the system in the U.S., there is only one course offered by the AFA. The AFA offers a two-year coaching course that is hosted at different sites throughout the country. Coaches must pass a series of evaluations during the two years and upon successful completion are recognized by the AFA coaches union.

The group subsequently had the privilege of attending an Argentinos Juniors training session, four days before they were to play Boca Juniors at the famed Estadio Alberto J. Armando, better known around the world as La Bombonera. Head Coach Claudio Vivas and fitness coach Octavio Manera graciously spent two hours later that night explaining their pre-season preparations, various systems of play they had used during their first few games of the season and their upcoming match against Boca Juniors.

The morning of day two was spent visiting the headquarters of the AFA, a stunning complex that includes eight full fields, a new futsal building, a beach soccer field, and administration and housing buildings. The group enjoyed presentations from the federations U-15, U-17, U-18, U-20 and fitness coaches. Coaches Hector Enrique, Oscar Garre, Walter Perazzo, Chirola Rodriguez, and Alexandro Toscalli all spent time discussing their roles, challenges, and goals they have for soccer in Argentina.

“The Argentinean Federation was extremely hospitable to our group. Besides the education value we received, they were very gracious in showing us their entire complex and answering our many questions,” said U.S. Soccer national staff coach Rene Miramontes. “The time they spent with us was invaluable.”

After a enjoying a traditional Argentinean barbeque, the group headed back to the city to listen to presentations from Primera Divisón club Tigre. Tigre youth coordinator Fabio Radelli, and coaches Mario Pobersnik and Gustavo Acosta, discussed their clubs philosophy on player development.

Day two concluded with Norberto Arismendi discussing the numerous roles he has held within the game he loves so much. “Pocho,” as is he known, enjoys a unique position as being one of only a few people in the world to be a professional player, a professional coach, a general manager of a professional team, and a FIFA agent. His unique perspective and insight was a terrific ending to a great day.

The group was given the opportunity to spend the entirety of day three of the tour with club Estudiantes de La Plata. Estudiantes, well-known for its youth development program, offered almost unlimited access to their grounds, players, and coaching staff.

Upon arriving, each attendee was outfitted in official club training gear. The morning was spent watching a training session lead by Youth Director Marcelo Vivas. The group was treated to a lunch in the team dining facility and toured the training grounds following the meal. After some needed down time, the group from the states took to the fields. Fullerton Rangers director of coaching Jimmy Obleda spent much of the hour long bus ride drafting his team. Official score was not kept, or at least, that is, from the perspective of the Obleda coaching staff.

Coach Marcelo Vivas welcomed coach Rene Miramontes to an afternoon of discussing player development and sharing with him his season-long practice plan book which has notes on each and every training session run throughout the year. The afternoon was filled with another youth training session led by the Estudiantes coaching staff.

The special day concluded with former World Cup heroes Jose Luis “Tata” Brown and Julio Olarticoechea discussing their memories of 1986 World Cup and the present status of Argentina’s National Team.

Said one attendee, “if the trip ended today it was worth it.”

Luckily, the trip was not yet finished, and day four started with a tour of the Club Atlético Banfield training grounds and a U-16 match between host Banfield and River Plate. The group enjoyed presentations from Dr. Carlos Eugenio and Jose Pesera, youth director for Estudiantes de La Plata on preparing for a youth competition. The day concluded with an entertaining match between San Lorenzo and Banfield.

“From start to finish we were educated on the game the Argentinean people love and appreciate so much, said U.S. Soccer National Staff Coach Rene Miramontes. “I am truly appreciative of the presenters for their time, insight, and knowledge, and for the respect and openness they showed our group.”

The final full day in Argentina was spent at Estudiantes de la Plata in the first ever coaching clinic offered to a group from the United States. Led by Juan Jose Tejeda and his coaching staff, attendees interacted with coaches and players. Each attendee was issued an official certificate of attendance.

The day concluded with a trip to the famous Bombonera to watch Argentinos Juniors play Boca Juniors.

Prior to departing, the group took a few hours to explore the city, buy some souvenirs, and tour the Bombonera and its museum.

Stay tuned to for information on future international coaching trips.

List of Coaches in Attendance
Alcantara, Orlando (N.J.)
Amos, Blake (Texas)
Bautista, Edgar (N.J.)
Bigney, Bob (Va.)
Boddison, Simon (Texas)
Boyd, Kevin (Ariz.)
Broad, Richard (Va.)
Brown, Malcolm (N.Y.)
Bushey, Sean (Wash.)
Castello, Mario (Ind.)
Charette, James (Wash.)
Craig, Roy (Ohio)
Eristavi, David (Ga.)
Fernandez, Ariel (Va.)
Gemmell, Don (Texas)
Hall, Jon (Va.)
Hardman, Dewi (Texas)
Harmon, Ernest (N.Y.)
Helvacioglu, Bekir (N.Y.)
Holland, Bryan (Calif.)
Ibrahim, Ahmet (Calif.)
Kinoshita, Kei (Wash.)
Klein, John (Mo.)
Kranje, Chris (Neb.)
Lukanski, Mark (Pa.)
Maltezos, Dean (La.)
Mendoza, Luis (N.J.)
Mihalopoulos, George (Ill.)
Mogford, Bryan (S.C.)
Obleda, James (Calif.)
Piazzi, Nino (Buenois Aires, Argentina)
Ramirez, Jaime (Calif.)
Ramirez, Robert (N.Y.)
Ramos, Juan (Mass.)
Sabin, Marc (Ohio)
Sifuentes, Rafael (Texas)
Somoano, Carlos (N.C.)
Stone, Gerald (N.Y.)
Tillak, Roland (Calif.)
Vidal, Heber (Ill.)

Coaches' Reactions to the Unique Experience in Argentina

“The Argentina Coaching Tour was an excellent, excellent educational opportunity. To be certain, without the work of US Soccer a coach on his or her own would not have gained the inside access that we had--I mean, we spoke with the Argentine Youth National Team coaches, not just on one occasion but two!  And they spoke to us at great length; I still shake my head in disbelief at the access we had. It was incredible the insights we were able to be a part of. The trip was extremely worthwhile--for a youth coach, college coach...for anyone excited about trying to make soccer in their area better.  Watching the Estudiantes 10 year olds train provided things I could use as a college coach; watching Argentina Juniors first team train provided insights that I can use with Regional ODP players or my club teams. I would sign up again in a heartbeat!  Oh...and watching Boca Juniors play at home wasn't bad either!" - Sean Bushey, National “A” License coach and Region IV staff coach and head coach at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash.

 “This innovative step taken by U.S. Soccer to expose coaches in the US to the influences of long established soccer cultures around the world will greatly benefit growth and development of soccer in this country. The week I spent studying the Argentine Youth Soccer Program enriched my ability to develop the youths that I coach/train in the US. The whole experience enhanced my knowledge as I go forward in my pursuit of advanced licenses through the USSF.” - Ernest Harmon, National “C” License coach of South Ozone Park, N.Y.
“Thanks to the U.S. Soccer Federation for this opportunity. I am looking forward to repeating it.” - Luis Mendoza, “A” license coach and Technical Director for PASCO Soccer Club in Wayne, N.J.

“An unforgettable trip, full of educational soccer content, spectacular presenters, friendships and emotions.”
I loved every minute of it.” - George Mihalopoulos, National “A” License coach and Director of Coaching for Huntley Heat Soccer in Illinois.

"It’s hard to find the right words that can give a trip of this nature the justice it deserves. But the best way for me would have to be to say "special". From the moment we arrived in Argentina to the moment we left, it seemed that every instance that we had was filled with those "special moments".  Whether it was at the Argentinean Youth matches having an open dialogue with Luis "Negro" Enrique, or listening to "Tata" Brown and "Vasco" Olarticochea speak of their World Cup experiences, or even just talking with other coaches about the day’s occurrences, moments like these and many more allowed every moment of the trip to be incredible." - Jimmy Obleda, National “A” License coach and Director of Coaching and Player Development for Fullerton Rangers in Fullerton, Calif.

"As a Director of Coaching and Player Development for a Youth Club,  it was important for me to see how a country that has produced some of the greatest footballer in the world, and continues to do so, works and develops their players from the earliest ages to the senior teams. The things I got from the training environment created in Estudiantes where simple things that are easily applicable in the States and can further help in the development and growth of our youth players within our country." - Jimmy Obleda

"As a Technical Director of a youth club I found the trip invaluable. Observing firsthand how a great soccer nation operates and the environments created to produce players cannot be replicated through local coaching courses. The commitment to the game by all the soccer leaders from A.F.A to local supporters of the clubs was very impressive. The trip was a great learning experience that I would highly recommend." - Don Gemmell, “A” license coach and Technical Director for Texas Rush Soccer Club in The Woodlands, TX