ANB Academy did a service to our soccer community by bringing in European Youth Academy coaches. Invited were Francois Rodrigues (Le Havre, French Ligue 1), Bernard Turpin (Auxerre, French Ligue 1), Guillaume Dumoulin (Yerville Formation Centre, France) and Valeriy Kinashenko of Dynamo Kyiv.
They were here to assess, evaluate and opinionate about the state of our Canadian football academies and hopefully scout some raw talent in the masses of aspiring players.This article will focus on just one of the coaches:
Valeriy is in charge of the U13 academy division at his Ukrainian Premier League club, FC Dynamo Kyiv.
He seemed a fitting person to talk and listen to because our own USC Academy trains many players of Ukrainian Heritage.
Here are his opinions about facilities in Ontario:
If the ANB Academy compound in King City is the norm for Academy facilities in Ontario, the Ukraine would fall behind drastically. Many clubs/academies would aspire for such quality facilities, but unfortunately in the Ukraine, many clubs are just playing on inferior pitches and in older gyms.
Having said that, Dynamo Kyiv features the best Academy facility in the Ukraine (see photo). http://www.fcdynamo.kiev.ua/en/club/infrastructure/5327.html
Further he notes, seeing so many schools with so many beautiful fields, especially in the outskirts of Toronto: "Why does Canada lack internationally recognized talent? All the prerequisites are in place. So this is hard to understand for me."
You can read about the Dynamo Kyiv Academy here: http://www.fcdynamo.kiev.ua/en/dynamo/news/27684.html
This brings us to the nitty gritty:
With fields and facilities available around us, it must be our system that is failing and perhaps also the quality of coaches.
From what we can assume, it is a combination of the above.
This could be a real difficult issue, because our system, currently by default, allows mediocrity to be viewed as excellence.
Looking at the quality of our U13/14 players, Valeriy points out:
"What I see missing in these players (U13+) is the hunger to ask for the ball, offer support, to move with the play. They play a gritty game. But their aggression is not on the ball, instead they are aggressive on the opponent. There is weakness to play under high pressure."
These are valid observations and we should examine our philosophy and perhaps adjust it accordingly. Our players do not exhibit the same characteristics as their European, African or Asian counter parts. Also, training methods and philosophies change constantly to match trends of the top clubs in the world. Some of our top academies do their best to match this and in the process become leaders in Canada.
But having listened to the Dynamo coach and if I understood his concerns correctly, it is clear that from his point of view our coaches should be more efficient in teaching the sport. They should talk less at practice and create more action. Our training methods may be too soft, our players not enough motivated. While our first class facilities seem to help, they do not replace excellence in coaching. I can't help but think that with facilities such as the Dynamo Kyiv Academy the Ukraine again will produce quality players like Andriy Shevchenko or Serhiy Fedorov. As it was, one of their top players, Andrey Voronin, who plays for Hertha Berlin, was actually trained in Germany.