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2024 Summer Coaching Symposium: Day 1

In front of roughly 400 coaches from all across the state, the 2024 NorCal Premier Soccer Summer Coaching Symposium kicked off in emphatic fashion Friday at the Oakland Roots training facility in Alameda.

In a weekend packed full of invaluable lessons from world class clinicians, the action began early in the morning with each coach gaining access to watch the Roots first team train ahead of their Saturday match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, which each coach was given a ticket to.

From there, legendary Dutch coach Frans Hoek took the reins, delivering a field session with the NorCal PDP boys that was focused on building out of the back using the goalplayer to progress the ball upfield in a technically sound manner.

“I thought the field sessions were amazing,” said Albion SC Central Valley Juniors Director Connor McTaggert. “Something that I didn’t really do a lot is incorporate the goalkeeper. It’s good to see how top coaches incorporate everyone on the field and bring out their value to the team.”

After Hoek’s training, the coaches headed inside for the first lecture of the event, one that featured TSG Hoffenheim U19 coach Tobias Nubbemeyer, who arrived in Northern California fresh off of becoming the first manager ever to complete the U19 Bundesliga and DFB Pokal double.

Nubbemeyer was clear and concise in presenting his methodology, which involved pressing quickly when numbers down, while always trying to create numbers up situations with the ball.

“I don’t care when we’re numbers down without the ball because we’re going to be so aggressive that we will win the ball anyway,” Nubbemeyer said.

However dogmatic Nubbemeyer was in his approach, he stressed that not everything he taught would be applicable to every coach in the world.

“You need to find your own way of doing things, you have to bring your own character into it,” he said. “What is your highest priority? Get a feeling for the sessions. Which sessions touch your heart more? Then find your own way.”

Nubbemeyer then led his own 90 minute field demonstrating, putting the same PDP boys through an intense workout that forced them to constantly pressure the ball, hoping to regain it or force their opponents into turning it over in dangerous areas.

“I love sessions with high energy and high intensity, I love putting players under pressure,” McTaggert said. “There’s a lot from this session that I’m going to take back and work with my players on.”

Finally, the coaches returned inside for the nightcap, a lecture from AC Milan Youth Director Professor Vincenzo Vergine.

In a three decade career at the top of the game in Italy, Vergine recently took over his current role after holding similar postings at ACF Fiorentina and Roma.

And on Friday in Alameda, he gave the coaches in attendance a thorough breakdown of his methodology, the structure of his academy, and his goals as an educator.

“When we speak about young players, it’s important to think about the holistic aspect of development, it’s not just the technical and physical aspects,” Vergine said. “The player is at the center of everything, everyone works together to help the player.”

For Vergine, it’s imperative to think about development on an individual basis, not as a team overall because each player is different. Furthermore, the team won’t stay together forever, so it’s important to develop each player to be their best self to prepare them for whatever comes next.

“The focus is the player, not the team,” he said. “The coach and staff work to win the match with the team, but real winning is developing the player.”

“And if you develop the player, usually you will win the match.”