Forty-four coaches and three U.S. Soccer instructors arrived in Madrid, Spain, on Saturday, March 17, to participate in an educational coaching workshop. Throughout their time in Spain, participants experienced many unique opportunities that would not have otherwise been possible.
Coaches started off the course in style; they spent the first three nights of the workshop residing on the campus of the Spanish Federation in the City of Futbol hotel. On Sunday, March 18, the group attended a Real Madrid vs. Malaga match. They sat in the first four rows of the stadium, where they watched as the game ended 1-1.
Coaches did not travel to Spain for the workshop solely to watch soccer. They went there to experience the futbol culture and to learn from some of Spain’s most knowledgeable soccer experts.
“The development of Spanish coaches, and in turn players and teams, has been accelerated by integrating three key variables: science, structured planning and a passion for ambitious soccer,” said Director of Coaching Education Dave Chesler. “Experiencing this blend is a rare and fantastic opportunity.”
This blend came together for coaches in Spain to create a unique learning environment. Participants were able to tour Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, as well as attend a presentation by Real Madrid’s Alberto Gil on their academy structure and working methodology.
Further highlights of the workshop included a presentation by Atlético Madrid CF Academy’s Sergio Piernas. Coaches also attended a presentation and field session with Spanish Federation Youth National Goalkeeper coach Miguel Ángel España and another presentation by their fitness coach, Juan Carlos Gómez.
On Tuesday, March 20, after an unbelievable start in Madrid, the group took a speed train to Barcelona. There they attended the Barcelona vs. Granada game. Barcelona won the match 5-3, with Messi scoring a hat trick.
While in Barcelona, coaches were able to experience several professional training sessions in person. They will be able to take lessons from these experiences back to their own practices in the U.S. On March 21, the group attended the U-18 Espanyol training session and observed U-7 to U-12 youth practices.
The following day, participants went to a presentation with FC Barcelona’s Victor Sanchez and Joan Villa, which focused on their youth academy structure and methodology. An exclusive opportunity also occurred when they attended a U-17 training session at a new training facility called Masia-Centre de Formació Oriol Tort (Residence of young players), recently opened in October 2011.
One of the best experiences of the entire trip for many of the coaches came on the last full day of the workshop, when the group traveled to Villarreal Club de Futbol. Here, the Academy Director Adolfo Abad spoke to the group about Villarreal’s academy structure and youth tactical development. Coaches then attended a first-team training session as well as a U-20 practice. In the afternoon, Villarreal’s first team fitness trainer and their U-20 coach both spoke to the group and fielded questions. At the end of the day, the entire group was treated to a Spanish specialty called paella, a well-known food in the Valencia region that was prepared special for the group.
Although the days were busy in Spain, coaches were able to play some small-sided games with local coaches, attend a U-20 Spanish Women’s National team training session and explore two historical cities in Madrid and Barcelona. It is amazing that these coaches were able to fit so many exceptional experiences into one journey. This workshop taught them things that will in turn further develop them as great soccer coaches.
“I would like to thank the U.S. Soccer Coaching Department for the organization and the success of the workshop in Spain,” said Cal North Director of Coaching Carlos Menjivar. “It was a great learning experience.”