PDP Boys Mexico Tour 2015
Below is a Q&A with Head Coach Ian Mork, who was asked some questions regarding the trip.
Question : How did these international friendlies aid the players’ all-around development?
IM: When we speak of “all around development” there are several different aspects (from a coaching perspective) that we must consider. The main areas we are focused on for development are: Technical, Tactical, Mental and Physical. On this trip, the technical and physical aspects were always being tested. We were playing on different fields and quality of surfaces, which is challenging for the technique. A majority of our opponents were physically mature and we added 2 games, so the physical endurance and strength of each player was also tested. But I would say the mental (personality) characteristics and the tactical aspects were probably influenced the most in Guadalajara. Adversity was constant, which tested their mental strength and discipline. We were also faced with several tactical challenges, which required tactical flexibility and understanding from the players. The response by the players on and off the field exceeded my expectations (and the expectations of the staff).
Before the trip, the team set 2 goals:
— to improve our team dynamics (mainly: cooperation and positive communication)
— to compete in every match with hard work and 100% focus (to increase our chances of winning).
The players became a family and their closeness off the field influenced their performance on the field. I believe they learned the important team concepts of: solidarity, trusting each other, constructive communication, unselfish running (on the field), and perseverance.
Question: What challenges did you face?
IM There were constant obstacles during the course of our trip, which tested the discipline of every player. Amongst the obstacles we faced were: different climate, schedule changes, different food, hotel changes, different quality of fields, added games and added travel–all while being in an unfamiliar environment against top opponents. The players response to these obstacles was outstanding! We adopted a saying on this trip: “We are ready for anything”
Question: What other experiences did the boys gain from this trip?
IM Beyond the soccer, there were also many cultural lessons and experiences during the course of this trip. We exposed the players to the local culture and neighborhoods as much as possible. We believe these cultural experiences will help them maintain their humility and give them a different perspective (and possibly appreciation) of their own life here in Northern California. We always encourage the players to be loving family members, disciplined students at school and model club-team players. We believe these cultural experiences will add something positive to their personalities.To give another example of the personalities amongst our NorCal PDP players: At the end of our last game we were asked to play a small game against a group of disabled, local players (both mentally and physically disabled). All of our players wanted to play in the 10 minute game. Our players were considerate, respectful and classy. The opponents were filled with joy (during and after the small game)—Big Smiles!! Our players gave each of them a NorCal shirt. This was one of the most rewarding moments of our trip!
Question : How did the Mexican style of play differ from your own and how were your players able to adapt?
IM In regards to the Mexican style of play: A few of the Mexican teams were physically stronger than us and they played direct (many long balls to their forwards). The other teams (Atlas and Chivas) were playing a similar style and system to our own. For our style of play, we believe in keeping possession of the ball, creating as many chances to score as possible and defending as a collective group. We selected players to fit our style of play, which means each player must be technically sharp and tactically disciplined. We made agreements on the training ground and in the classroom, which the players applied to the games. This required adaptability and concentration from each player. The players showed a level of maturity beyond their years. Their mental strength was impressive and every player reacted well to our tactical adjustments. The players took an important step in their tactical development which will benefit all of them in the years ahead. Our style of play was the deciding factor in many of our games (especially the games we won). The distinguishing differences, which set us apart from our opponents, were: our defensive cooperation, domination in possession of the ball, creativity in the final 3rd and ability to finish our chances.
We commend all of the NorCal players for their positive behavior and performances in Guadalajara. They were model ambassadors for NorCal on this trip!