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350 Participate in ACF Fiorentina Coaching Course

In the largest gathering of the event’s history, 350 coaches attended the NorCal Premier Soccer Fiorentina Coaching Course Feb. 25 and 26 in Berkeley.

Splitting into two groups — 120 for the advanced course and 230 for the basic course — the coaches underwent two days of classroom instruction taught by Fiorentina Youth Director Professor Vincenzo Vergine as well as field sessions led by the NorCal Player Development Program staff.

The course focused mostly on the physical development aspect of youth players, something that NorCal was on the cutting edge of implementing to the soccer scene roughly a decade ago when NorCal began to develop a relationship with Serie A club ACF Fiorentina.

“10 years ago in this country, the area of physical development wasn’t anywhere in any curriculum in the United States,” said PDP Director and NorCal Vice President Paolo Bonomo. “We were on the front end of this. Seeing the growth in numbers, with the first course having around 30 or 40 coaches, to now reaching 300 clearly shows that attention to this area of development is really important.”

Added NorCal Premier Soccer President Benjamin Ziemer: “Norcal Premier Soccer believes coaching education is vitally important to the development of soccer in our country. We are very proud of our investment in this area. The ACF Fiorentina Courses specifically addresses, within a soccer setting, the issues facing our children’s physical development or lack thereof.  Due to the increasing lack of physical education in schools, children playing unsupervised in their neighborhoods and the increasing lack of movement within our society, these courses are especially relevant to our coaches and clubs.

“These courses enable coaches to better understand and hence influence the development of the psycho-motor skills, the coordination abilities and overall athletic abilities of their players. Without this base or ‘physical literacy’ a player will be unable to reach their potential in soccer or any other sport,” Ziemer said. “A coach with some knowledge of this area can integrate a small portion of this training into each practice, most often with the ball, and thereby assist their players in reaching a higher level and most importantly enjoying the game at a higher level.”

In addition to sessions run by Bonomo, PDP staff coaches Araia Berhane, Deejae Johnson, Greg Rubendall, Mani Salimpour, and Andrew Ziemer led instruction in the vast confines of Cal’s Memorial Stadium and its adjacent practice field.

“The ultimate goal is to provide an education for our modern day coaches in a physical fitness and physical movement type of qualities that’s based in science and scientific knowledge,” Rubendall said. “Most of the coaches that end up coaching are either former players or parents, which have very little education in physical education, exercise, biomechanics, kinesiology.

“This methodology specifically gets into the root of the science behind what makes Lionel Messi move the way he does.”

PDP’s Riccardo La Barbera served as the translator for Vergine’s lectures.