fbpx

Heidelberg United: Modernising youth development with SoccerPLAY

At all levels of the game technology is having a profound impact on football. While spectators focus largely on tools like VAR and goal-line technology, coaches and administrators are increasingly turning to sports science and innovation to seek a competitive advantage.

It was searching for this competitive edge that led Chris Theodorou, Football Programs Manager at Heidelberg FC to SoccerPLAY, an online management system which is revolutionising the club’s youth development.

“SoccerPLAY does more than just support coaches, it allows clubs to create a structure and a style. It’s a methodology,” Theodorou says.

SoccerPLAY is currently being used by more than 100 clubs and football federations around the world, including AC Milan and the Dutch Football Association.

The system gives users access to more than 800 exercises and training drills which can use to create training programs, improve specific skills, and track player development.

“The structure is phenomenal. It allows a football department to put together a program that can be accessed on a phone, tablet or computer,” he adds.

“It helps to keep training fresh and there are different formats for each exercise, so it provides coaches with all the tools they need to feel supported,” he adds.

Coaches can also create their own exercises which they can upload onto the system and form training schedules in weekly, fortnightly, or monthly blocks.

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Sporting organisations love to see their coaches turning up well prepared and with this system they will never run out of ideas,” Theodorou says.

“There are different objectives listed, so a coach or technical director can search specifically to find relevant exercises. From basics like first touch, passing, and movement to more advanced things such as building from the back and possession play, there are different formats of drills for everything.”

Each of SoccerPLAY’s  training exercises comes with a detailed guide on how to execute the drill correctly. This includes information on what equipment is needed, an animation providing an overview of the movements, and a real-life instructional video designed to demonstrate correct technique.

Theodorou highlights the video depicting technique as a particularly valuable tool for Australian coaches.

“The instructional videos are technique-focused because in Europe if you can’t pass, you can’t play. Whereas here in Australia we emphasise going hard and fast,” he says.

As SoccerPLAY is designed to incorporate youth development for all ages, there are exercises that are suitable for players in the under-6 age bracket through to under-19’s.

Many of the drills have variations which provide coaches the option to simplify them or make them more challenging, depending on the age group and skill level of the players.

“You don’t want to give five or six-year-old players too much information, so the drills are simple in order not to overcomplicate things. It’s also recommended that you don’t change what they are doing too often, whereas with older groups you can be more creative,” Theodorou says.

In addition to assisting coaches with an overarching training program, SoccerPLAY allows football departments an unprecedented ability to track individual player development.

“The player tracking is awesome. You can record a player’s results in agility tests, beep tests, sprint tests and so forth then track how they improve over the course of the year. At Heidelberg we aim to do these three or four times over the year to measure their developments,” Theodorou says.

“You can also track how players are performing in matches by uploading statistics and video snippets to their profile. For example, you can upload clips of a player doing something really well or if they’ve made a mistake, then you can show them the footage in order to identify learning opportunities.”

The key to SoccerPLAY’s effectiveness is the calibre of its designers, Dutch football experts Patrick Ladru, Bram Meurs and David Zonneveld. All three have all had distinguished careers within football, specifically youth development and education.

Among their many achievements, Ladru was a youth manager and then scout at AFC Ajax, Meurs played at PSV Eindhoven and now operates as a sports psychologist, and Zonneveld served as a youth coach at FC Volendam and now specialises in motorised learning for children.

“Ladru has worked with Johan Cruyff and the likes, he creates many of the exercises himself. Bram focuses more on the mental components of the system and what sort of actions players need to do off the ball and then there’s David, who specialises in teaching players behaviours and habits,” Theodorou says.

In Australia, SoccerPLAY is just beginning to gain traction with Heidelberg United being one of the first clubs to adopt the system.

As an active user of the program, Theodorou believes Australian football should be more open to stepping away from traditional practices and embracing new ideas.

“This is where FFA and FFV are missing the mark. Our national youth teams are not making World Cups so how are our seniors going to make World Cups in the future?” he says.

“The coaches that have embraced SoccerPLAY here think it’s unbelievable, its designed to be simple and effective.”

AGL extends partnership with Melbourne Victory

AGL has announced it has renewed its partnership with four-time A-League champions Melbourne Victory for another two years.

AGL General Manager Customer Channels Jane Morwick said AGL was proud to be Melbourne Victory’s
Major Partner, extending a relationship that dates back to 2014.

“We had no hesitation in reaffirming our support for the Melbourne Victory, particularly given the success
of the partnership,” Morwick said.

“We are also pleased to be able to continue to support the club during what we know has been a
challenging year, given the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As part of a new two-year deal, AGL will remain the naming rights partner of the club’s Victory in Business
networking functions as well as the Chairman’s Function on match-days.

“Our partnership with Australia’s biggest A-League club has been highly successful and we look forward to
continuing our support of its network and its most passionate fan base,” Morwick said.

“Victory members will also continue to enjoy the benefits of this relationship through special energy offers
for partners.”

Melbourne Victory CEO Trent Jacobs added that the club was thrilled to continue its relationship with AGL.

“To recommit to the club in the current environment speaks volumes of the leadership at AGL, and behalf
of the entire football club we thank CEO Brett Redman and his staff for their ongoing loyalty and support,”
Jacobs said.

“AGL has been a wonderful supporter of our strategic vision, both on and off the pitch, and have also
provided our members and fans with genuine value through their products and services.”

3G pitches to help clubs in a post-COVID world

As football clubs around the world deal with the COVID-19 health crisis, the future use of more artificial pitches could help organisations navigate around these financially distressing times.

That is at least the view of former FA technical director Dan Ashworth, stating that the FIFA-approved football turf provides opportunities for clubs to host various events and pursue the development of their own academies.

In the UK, Maidstone United were the first ever English club to build a brand-new stadium using the highest quality 3G artificial surface.

That was in 2012, and since then, other notable clubs in the non-league divisions including Sutton United, Harrogate Town and Bromley have all made the move (in the National League) and installed 3G pitches.

The English Football League have considered allowing 3G fields in League 1 and 2, however, a vote in 2014 on the matter was tied.

This means that any club playing on an artificial pitch has to remove the surface if they want to be promoted into the EFL, even though 3G fields are allowed for the Women’s World Cup, Champions League and many other professional leagues in Europe.

Similar articles:

Heidelberg United: Modernising youth development with SoccerPLAY

The Bundesliga continues to build its reputation as football’s innovation benchmark

Joint-owner of Maidstone United Oliver Ash believes Dan Ashwoth is right in saying 3G pitches should be a prominent option for EFL clubs impacted financially by COVID-19.

He told fcbusiness: “With this terrible Covid-19 crisis affecting so many people and damaging so many football clubs, which are vital to their communities, we have to think outside the box if we are to avoid financial meltdown.

“Going forward it will all be about sustainability. Clubs will have to find ways of making their businesses sustainable in the interests of their supporters and their actual survival. One obvious way of achieving this is by installing a 3G pitch.

“We have now had five years’ experience of 3G pitches in the National League. We have seen supporters and players embrace the change in playing surface; we have seen that the highest quality 3G pitches encourage good football but also allow physical players to get stuck in; we have seen no particular injury problems, a welcome absence of postponements, and local people coming in their droves to watch and play football at our clubs seven days a week. It’s been life-changing in a totally positive way.”

Ash estimates that those clubs who decide to use 3G fields can generate a further £400,000 worth of income a year. This is the case because of direct pitch-hire revenue as well as indirect earnings from supporters coming into the club. Savings are also made on maintenance and postponements.

Using his own club as an example, Ash explained Maidstone United have registered a profit every season since the pitch was installed eight years ago.

“We know and respect the fact that some people still prefer to play on natural surfaces, even down in League 2, where pitch quality is inconsistent,” he said.

“However, the benefits of 3G pitches are so massive and the problems facing football so huge, it would be irrational not to give League 2 clubs the option to install them without delay and take advantage of the opportunity to transform their clubs into sustainable businesses capable of surviving this crisis and thriving thereafter,” he concluded.

Maidstone United, Sutton United, Bromley and Harrogate Town are the leaders in advocating for change in the EFL.

With leading experts in the game looking to restructure football in some capacity, what is generally the norm may be no more.

One day in the near future, these clubs could have access to the EFL without having to give up their 3G pitches.

On a local front, are 3G pitches a suitable idea for NPL and A-League clubs? Get in touch with us via email or our social channels.

Football NSW’s NPL.TV continues to make its mark

Football NSW has announced that all National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s and National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s matches will be live streamed, exclusively on NPL.TV when matches commence this weekend.

Prior to COVID-19 halting all competitions, NPL.TV was launched as an exciting new destination for fans of NPL NSW to view games. The landmark streaming service is a key partnership between Football NSW and leading sports media and data agency Sportradar.

On NPL.TV, the platform will be fully broadcast including complete commentary for all NPL NSW Women’s and NPL 2 Men’s matches throughout the 2020 season.

NPL.TV will also stream top-tier NPL NSW Men’s and NPL NSW Men’s Under 20’s when they are due to recommence later this month.

The platform is regarded as an OTT service capable of allowing content to be streamed from mobiles to televisions via Chromecast or Airplay.

NPL.TV is free for those in Australia and accessible on all web browsers, with the option to purchase a ‘premium’ Full HD package at a small monthly cost.

Football NSW has confirmed the following opening round matches can be viewed live and exclusive on NPL.TV this weekend:

Round 1 NPL NSW Women’s

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Blacktown Spartans v North West Sydney Koalas – Blacktown Football Park

3pm – Manly United v FNSW Institute – Cromer Park

3pm – Emerging Jets v Sydney Olympic – Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

3pm – Sydney University v Macarthur Rams Womens – Sydney University Football Ground

3:30pm – Northern Tigers v Bankstown City – North Turramurra Recreation Area

7:05pm – APIA Leichhardt v Illawarra Stingrays – Lambert Park

Round 1 NPL 2 NSW Men’s

Saturday 18 July

7pm – SD Raiders v Hills United – Ernie Smith Reserve

7pm – NWS Spirit FC v Bonnyrigg White Eagles – Christie Park

7pm – Blacktown Spartans v Central Coast Mariners – Blacktown Football Park

7pm – Northern Tigers v Newcastle Jets – North Turramurra Recreation Area No 1

Sunday 19 July

3pm – Hakoah Sydney City East v St George FC – Hensley Athletic Field

Football NSW’s move from social media streaming to Sportradar’s innovative OTT platform will allow the organisation to control the content, allowing for more in-depth and data-driven insights into the area of viewer behaviour and can outline how this can tell more engaging stories to these fans.

© 2020 Soccerscene Industry News. All Rights reserved.

Most Popular Topics

Editor Picks