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NorCal Premier Soccer 2020 Coaching Education Series: A Year in Review

This year has thrown many challenges in the way of NorCal Premier Soccer’s mission statement, which states: “We elevate soccer by developing players, clubs, coaches, and referees.”

But NorCal has always prided itself on its ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, which is exactly what the organization accomplished in 2020 with its webinar-only coaching education series.

NorCal believes that better coaches make better players, so even with a global pandemic shutting down soccer for much of the year, our staff was able to help continue the development of local coaches through a multitude of different online sessions.

Starting back in April and concluding this past week, NorCal hosted 34 webinars for a total of nearly 50 hours of instruction, reaching just under 9,000 total attendance. Overall, an average of roughly 260 coaches tuned in to hone the skills of their craft during each course.

And all but one webinar — the session with then FC Barcelona head coach Quique Setien — were free of charge for NorCal coaches, ensuring easy access for every coach looking to improve. Even the Setien webinar cost coaches just $20, a relatively small fee to listen to the man who was then coaching Lionel Messi.

“We’d been successful in the past with our coaching education opportunities and everyone was looking forward to our summer coaching symposium at Stanford, but come March we had to change our plans,” said Coaching Education Coordinator David Robertson. “We started off with just some internal webinars, but we quickly realized that access to continued education during the lockdown was highly desired.”

“From there we just built momentum and had people attending from all over the world in addition to the large number of NorCal coaches,” Robertson added. “It was great to see so many people engaged. Although we always want to be on grass and in person, we’ve realized that we can pull off webinars with world class clinicians quickly and cheaply through using our technological resources.”

The sessions proved as diverse as they were informative, with lessons from some of NorCal’s own mixed in with top-level international clinicians such as Setien, Renato Paiva (Benfica B), Marco Pezzaiuoli and Matthias Borst (Eintracht Frankfurt), and Frans Hoek (Formerly of Ajax, Barcelona, Manchester United, and the Dutch National Team).

NorCal was also able to learn from the leading professional clubs in the area as the organization hosted webinars with both the San Jose Earthquakes and Sacramento Republic FC.

In addition, several Spanish language sessions were provided, with the ever-popular Javier Lopez returning along with LA Galaxy Director of Methodology and Development Juan Carlos Ortega.

For those who allowed it, the lessons were recorded and archived. Those who couldn’t attend live but are still looking to learn can find those webinars here. The lessons that couldn’t be shared were rebroadcast at later dates.

“We are very thankful for NorCal’s commitment to coach education for years. The quality, variety and experience of educators that NorCal hires is world class,” said California Magic Director of Coaching and co-founder Harris Obic. “At Magic we often speak about this and how lucky we are to be here where the coaching knowledge is at our fingertips — not sure that’s available anywhere else. This year’s webinars also covered more of our local experiences coaches sharing their experience and knowledge which was much easier for our coaches to relate to.”

“During COVID driven webinars this same commitment to education came through — the webinars were very informative with depth in every major coaching task,” Obic said. “The takeaways from these webinars are constant and never-ending improvement, presenters were humble and urged coaches to stay open to new ideas.”

Added Palo Alto SC and Menlo College assistant coach Jessica Hewins: “The webinars put on by NorCal have been great. Of course I wish I could be over in Europe visiting clubs and watching games but since that’s not possible it’s great that NorCal has been finding ways to continually offer coaching education. I think one of the biggest things I’ve taken away from the webinars has been a focus on a holistic approach with coaching especially at the younger age groups.”

“From the beginning focus on building character, values and habits that a person needs to become an elite athlete and even more importantly an all-round good person,” Hewins said. “Instilling these values and mindset from the beginning along with making it fun and building a love for the game will give players the best opportunity to grow through the sport.”

For more information on NorCal Premier Soccer’s coaching education, click here.