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Euro Trip Day 4: FC Volendam — The Other Oranje

VOLENDAM, Netherlands — In the most wonderfully strange corner of this country, there’s a sleepy fishing village known for its residents’ traditional clothing, a series of largely successful singers, and the local delicacy of eel.

And their football isn’t bad either, especially considering Volendam’s population hovers somewhere around 22,000.

The local club, FC Volendam, has a long history in the top-two divisions in the Netherlands despite a goal of maintaining a first team with at least 50 percent of players locally sourced.

Currently, they’re hitting that number with 22 of the 36 first team members coming from the team’s academy, including nine from Volendam proper who suit up for “The Other Oranje.”

The level of sustained success is due to the unique nature of the town, according to manager Misha Salden, who met NorCal’s Directors of Coaching before the game in order to give a tactical breakdown of that night’s second division match against FC Utrecht’s reserve team.

“If you look at the front doors of each of the people in the town, they all want to have a nicer front door than everyone else,” Salden said. “I think this pushes them to a higher level.”

Video Analyst Breaks Down Plan

After lunching at the club while discussing the assignment to analyze Thursday night’s Vitesse – Nice game, the directors were greeted by Salden’s video analyst, Englishman Jack Austin, who explained how FC Volendam would try to gain an advantage over Utrecht.

For the second straight day, the club NorCal visited proved to be influenced by American philosophies, this time via Austin’s affinity with New England Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick.

“If you look at all the best coaches in the world, they all have an identity,” Austin said, before laying out what he called a “game plan,” after the same phrase American football coaches use.

Volendam’s game plan consisted of the following:

  • What does the opponent want to do and how?
  • Where are the opponent’s weaknesses, how can we focus on this?
  • How can we do this while staying strong to our own identity?

Essentially, how do Volendam play their own style, while also adjusting to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses?

“If I’m in a fight with someone and they want to use their right hand, it’s my job to make sure that their right hand is tied behind their back,” Austin said.

He then went into specifics, explaining how Volendam planned to attack Utrecht, who Austin said excelled at building out of the back.

“If they can do that, we have a problem,” he said. “We want to stop them from as far away from our goal as humanly possible.”

To do so, he devised a pressing system in which the Volendam forwards would pressure with a different number of players each time in order to confuse the opposition and hopefully unsettle them.

“We’re not going to give them a good read, a clean read on how we’re going to press them,” Austin said.

Other than that, there weren’t many other points that Austin wanted to key on, as the club’s philosophy dictated that just a few key points were better to implement, rather than a full battery of details that players could forget during the run of play.

Coaches Tasked to Analyze Game

NorCal Directors of Coaching were again tasked with breaking down the game within the four phases of play and transitioning, something that was helped by having a collaboration with Volendam.

“When you’re looking at specific phases and looking at details within those phases instead of a general overview of the game, it allows you to take in more information and process the game at a higher level,” said Walnut Creek Soccer Club Director of Coaching and NorCal board member Tom Ginocchio “Over time, with more application, you can basically start breaking down all four phases quicker. Right now we’re being asked to break down two phases. The application of breaking those down from yesterday to today was quicker.”

The game ended 2-1 in favor of the home side, with FC Volendam picking up their third win on the season, to give home teams a perfect 2-0 record with NorCal in attendance thus far on the trip.

Tomorrow, NorCal will have the chance to go over the match with Salden and Austin, giving the Directors of Coaching the rare opportunity and access to help give more invaluable experience that will directly benefit thousands of youth players in the State.