The Next Generation Sports Academy: Prioritising soft skills for youth development

The Next Generation Sports (TNGS) are a sports consulting company and international football academy that specialise in developing young talents across the world in a high-performance environment.

Participants who have attended TNGS camps have been selected for clubs such as West Ham United in the Premier League, Villarreal in La Liga and Toronto FC in the MLS. Alongside this, players have also been chosen for the England and United States National Teams.

Based in Valencia, the company has developed athletes and coaches over the last 10 years in territories such as Sweden, USA, South Korea, Japan, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bermuda Islands and many more using their own methodology.

This methodology includes a strong emphasis on educating young talent on abilities that will make them an important player in a team and also on an individual basis.

Improving the ‘soft skills’ of young players, such as creativity, leadership, adaptability, problem-solving and decision making is prioritised across the board by coaches at the academy.

Using an example according to the TNGS website, the creativity of players is tested through various technical, tactical and psychosocial exercises to challenge and prepare them to resolve situations in-game and improve their overall game intelligence.

Decision making is encouraged through visual coaching strategies which are implemented through the use of modern learning tools, to help youngsters immediately understand and learn how to read and interpret proposals to make appropriate decisions.

Adaptability, which is a key factor between being a successful player or not, is encouraged and drummed into players in a tactical sense, so they are aware of when and how to put a certain tactic into practice.

The Academy was forced to be adaptable itself in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and change the way in which they connected and worked with players.

Coaches were not only concerned about players’ physical wellbeing but also their mental skills when it came to self-motivation, discipline and dedication.

In response to dealing with this predicament, through the use of technology, TNGS created innovative NG Virtual Camps. This was a concept that blended sports training exercises and soft skills exercises for new talent to overcome during the challenging period.

Players would conduct weekly sessions, with the TNGS coaches providing youngsters with guidelines through personalised Zoom calls.

TNGS coaches have worked in top clubs all over Europe and have obtained their UEFA Pro Licences. Some of the academy’s coaches work at La Liga clubs Levante UD and Villarreal CF, with others having played at Valencia and Real Madrid.

These aspects make them specialised in high performance training and talent development, with their video calls for the online camp focusing on the following three areas:

  • Soft skills sessions: Organising exercises and providing knowledge on how to develop the mental abilities of players so that they are able to reach their maximum potential in this area
  • Technical sessions: Teaching the concepts of the sport which have defined Spanish football over its history
  • On the field: Initiate team activities that develop challenges so coaches are able to evaluate factors such as creativity, empathetic communication, cooperation and much more.

These sessions, that were completed in the virtual camp, were a perfect scenario to educate young players on a variety of matters, including tactical concepts, game intelligence and technical and physical aspects in multiple situations during a game.

“The TNGS virtual camp was an amazing experience for me. It was informative, well organised…it was not only about football, it was about mentality, how to be a good person, things that are crucial in life, success, and school,” a student of the program explained after experiencing the opportunity with other players of various cultures.

A list of other details from the TNGS website on their methodology for teaching players can be found below:

  • Individualized training to strengthen the player’s effective and quick responses based on the tactical principles of the game.
  • Application of Visual Coaching strategies for reading, understanding and decision making in the field.
  • Match and training analysis to improve self-knowledge and self-confidence.
  • Creation of a profile and individual technical report that is reviewed monthly.
  • Specific plans for preparatory periods, holidays and free time that complement the role of the player
  • Establishment of weekly objectives for the development of self-determination and task orientation.
  • Cater for all specific needs: Physiotherapy, Sports Psychology, Nutrition.

For more information about TNGS click here.

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Global Institute of Sport and former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor launch ‘study and play’ academy in Dubai

Global Institute of Sport (GIS) has announced an expansion into the Middle East by partnering with leading football performance specialists The Player, co-founded by former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor.

Aspiring footballers from across the globe can now study a GIS university degree and immerse themselves in an elite football environment with the stunning surroundings of Dubai.

The new ‘Study & Play: Dubai’ initiative provides footballers of all levels with an unprecedented opportunity to train and play in state-of-the-art facilities under the guidance of UEFA A licenced coaches. Alongside their football, students studying a specialist GIS online sports degree will receive local academic support, as well as be part of a global cohort of GIS students studying the same degree course.

Open to students from across the world to move to Dubai, successful applicants will be able to immerse themselves in the Middle East’s emerging football market, gain cutting-edge skills and apply for sports work placements that will shape their future both on and off the field.

The Player Co-Founder and former Newcastle United player Steven Taylor commented:

“This partnership with GIS offers a fantastic opportunity for young athletes. Education is one of our four main focuses at The Player, and we’re able to offer high level performance training alongside this education.”

Fellow The Player Co-Founder and UEFA A licenced coach Sam White added:

“We’re really proud to be introducing this partnership with Global Institute of Sport, and being able to offer young professionals and talented young athletes the opportunity to study a degree and play or work within the world of football in Dubai at the same time.”

GIS President and CEO Sharona Friedman stated:

“GIS was founded with the intention of bringing the best learning and education from the world of sport together so that students are able to graduate with a holistic understanding of best practice from around the globe.

“We are delighted to partner with The Player to provide an additional immersive opportunity for students to study and train in an elite football environment, whilst also bringing our education model to a new region, which will be at the forefront of sports business and performance for the decades to come.”

The GIS degrees available to study as part of this opportunity are:

All programmes are delivered entirely online with the exception of MSc Football Coaching & Analysis, which is largely online plus two residential weeks in either London, Miami or Melbourne.

For more information on Study & Play: Dubai, you can visit the link here: www.GIS.sport/dubai.

FIFA implement measures to protect female players and coaches

FIFA has announced several amendments to the current Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (RSTP). These changes have been approved by the FIFA Council by May 2024 and have been brought into effect from June 1.

These changes are majorly focused on women and the impact that menstruation and pregnancy have on their careers.

A meeting of key stakeholders and FIFA members resulted in these new regulations advancing the women’s game.

These include:

  • FIFA female players and coaches can now receive a minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.
  • A minimum of 8 weeks of paid absence for female coaches and players who adopt a child under the age of 2.
  • Also, a minimum of 8 weeks paid absence from the birth of the child if they are not the biological mother (for example same-sex parenthood).
  • Players are entitled to full remuneration if they are absent from training or games due to menstruation or pregnancy health reasons.
  • There is increased support for female players in contacting families during national team contexts to ease pressure on children and mothers.

FIFA Chief Legal & Compliance Officer Emilio García Silvero has commented on the recent changes:

“FIFA is committed to implementing a dynamic regulatory framework that is sound and suitable for the increasing needs of female players and coaches,” he said via media release.

“In order for the game to further flourish, it’s key that we have a holistic approach towards player well-being, including the legal aspects.”

This is a huge advancement in the game’s equality mission as FIFA has recognised and actively planned to ease the physical, psychological and social dimensions of pregnancy and menstruation for women athletes.

These regulations fit Goal 2 in FIFA’s Strategic Objectives for the Global Game: 2023-2027, which describe the organisation’s commitment to exploring and implementing further safeguards for player and coach welfare.

FIFA Chief Football Women’s Officer Dame Sarai Bareman outlined the importance of placing women’s physical health in the legal and mainstream dialogue of the sport.

“When you’re playing sport for a living, and in a professional environment, we have to factor in that the female menstrual cycle can also impact on your ability to deliver within your role,” she added via media release.

“So, it’s important that we protect … those that are affected by their menstrual cycles in a way that it doesn’t put at risk their employment situation with their club and, ultimately, their ability to earn money.”

This announcement shows the players are becoming the major stakeholders in laws and regulations around their welfare.

This is an important strategy for the equality of the game by making sure that women’s sporting careers are not put on hold or impacted by their natural body function or raising a child.

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