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Summer Coaching Symposium Day 4

LIVERMORE — The fourth and final day of NorCal Premier Soccer’s Summer Coaching Symposium at Las Positas College featured more world class clinicians exclusively coaching field sessions on a warm day.

But inside the cool confines of the facility, more than 80 attended NorCal’s first-ever Club Development Seminar, where various speakers and panelists presented with a focus on improving club infrastructure.

“Worldwide, club soccer is a very social affair,” said NorCal President Benjamin Ziemer in opening the seminar. It’s actually subsidized in a lot of countries because the governments know that in order to have mental health and social health, it’s good to be connected to people.”

“It provides this cocoon or this lifelong connection between like-minded people,” he added.

Part of NorCal’s recent efforts to expand the game have been focusing on the adult side, with the creation of the new LIGA NorCal (details here).

In order to help clubs better understand the challenges and importance of fielding adult teams, part of the Club Development Seminar included those active in the local amateur soccer community such as Burlingame Dragons (PDL) President Jordan Gardner, Sonoma County Sol (NPSL) Head Coach Vinnie Cortezzo, and Tottenham Hotspur East Bay (WPSL) Head Coach Manish Doshi.

Cortezzo spoke about the issues with shared field space and a lack of priority that many amateur adult sides face due to their low budgets.

“We showed up the other day and the lacrosse goals were locked to the soccer goals,” he said. “We’re warming up and I’m cutting the net and zip tying it back together.”

Meanwhile, Gardner touched on what the overall goals and importance of fielding an adult team were.

“I think at the end of the day…you’re trying to create a community around your club,” he said. “When your kids come back during the summer, they want to be around the club…without the adult piece in your club, it creates a void.”

For Doshi, though, his perspective proved to be different, having experienced the game on the women’s side, where it’s arguably even more difficult to conjure up support and funds for an amateur side.

“There’s not enough opportunity for women’s players, and there’s not enough opportunity for women’s coaches,” Dosh said. “From this WPSL club, we’ve created seven coaches.”

One thing they all agreed on, though, was the need for more adult teams in the area regardless of the level.

“There’s so much talent around Northern California, but there aren’t enough teams,” Gardner said. “We just need more teams…my hope is that we more see teams at all levels.”

“If you look around Europe, a country like Holland, I don’t know how big it is in relation to California, but it’s smaller and how many professional teams do they have?” Cortezzo said. “Granted, it’s a different culture, but I think our culture is moving in that direction.”

Back out on the field, though, legendary goalkeeper coach Frans Hoek gave his second lecture in as many days as the man who helped develop greats like Edwin Van Der Saar and David De Gea led a clinic on goalkeeper development and then answered questions for roughly 30 minutes.

Hoek also discussed the evolution of NorCal Premier, having presented at NorCal coaching education eventsfor over 20 years. He mentioned that NorCal is the about the size of a federation like Holland and Belgium and can have a marked difference on the development of players within the organization. He challenged everyone to ask questions, have clear objectives, and never stop educating yourself .

Hoek was followed by Stanford Men’s Head Coach Jeremy Gunn. One day after teaching offensive principles, the two-time defending NCAA Division-I champion flipped the narrative around to teach defensive functions.

“We all talk about attacking, we all want to see attacking soccer, everything’s attacking, attacking…but the game goes both ways,” Gunn said. “I’m not saying we’re the best in the world, but [we play good defense] and it works for us.”

“Some attackers only come alive when you’re in possession, and you know what? That’s illogical, because your best chances come when you don’t have the ball,” he added.

After a quick break for lunch, Positive Coaching Alliance’s Bret Simon led a session on the turf field focusing on small sided games leading into the bigger picture.

“I don’t think that American players see the game fast enough,” Simon said, before leading an exercise designed to improve exactly that.

At the same time as Simon’s session, author and former head of the Real Madrid Academies of Mexico Javier Lopez ran an exercise for the third day in a row, while the event was capped off by yet another quality training example from Mexico U-20 National Team Coach Marco Antonio Ruiz, followed by a short Q & A for those who braved the heat and made it to the very last hour of the four-day event.

“Though the feedback was universally positive, we’re already discussing ways in which we can improve the event next year,” said Event director David Robertson. “We believe with the growing support of clubs and the enthusiasm of the coaches that this event can soon become one of the premier coaching education opportunities in the entire country.”