March sees the Soccer Smart International Football Academy back in action for 2018 with brand new facilities to suit! 

The players arrived to the football villa on Thursday 1st March from as far and wide as New Zealand, Canada, USA & Sudan, to name just a few. They acquainted themselves with their new team mates and their surroundings in anxious participation for the 1st training session the following day. 

Friday morning saw the players wake up to a welcome presentation and the chance to meet their coach, ex-La Liga player David De La Hera. We outlined Soccer Smarts philosophy and the expectations that they are expected to adhere to in order to improve themselves as players and people. 

The first training session of the day had strong elements of technical and tactical challenges to examine the current level of the group. Later on in the evening the players participated in the yo-yo fitness test; the aim of this test is to analyse their stamina, recovery rate and most importantly their character towards difficult tasks. Furthermore, we hope to see monumental improvements in these results when the players retake this test next month. We keep data records of all the players stats such as body fat percentage and agility with a view to not only examine improvements but also to enquire into any weaknesses that need to be bettered.  

The weekends give the players a chance to explore their new city, Alicante; and what better way to do that than to hike up the glorious Santa Barbara Castle in the heart of the city. We took the 25 minute walk up to the top of the castle to take in the extraordinary views of the city, mountains and Mediterranean sea. 

With the weekend of site seeing and rest finished, the boys were back in business and started out with a weekly 1v1 tournament, promoting competition, game management, character and a mentality of ‘best of friends, keenest of rivals’. 

In addition to two training sessions a day, the week also consists of Spanish classes, presentations, stretching sessions from the Academy Physio and an in house game. 

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The in house game gave the players a chance to showcase their skills in a competitive environment, with the added benefit of having the match. The following day, we analysed the game footage and the players filled in their game diaries, both excellent practices in self analysing strengths and weaknesses in conjunction with their goal setting. 

The following week gave the players the opportunity to engage in a training session at the beach,  a mere 15 minutes walk away from the villa. This added a different kind of physical element that was new to a majority of the players (especially from the UK based players who had only just arrived from a snow hit environment!) and also add a strong technical aspect to the training session, helped with a competition of football tennis. 

With the players only 2 weeks into their Academy experience, we threw them straight into the deep end with a match against the u19s team of professional club Hercules CF. Despite the fact that the boys had only trained together for 2 weeks, they were playing against a team that had been together for years, yet the game stayed tied for a long period of the game. Hercules possessed the ball for the majority, however our counter-attacking game was strong and caused problems for the Spanish side. A momentary blip in concentration on the stroke of half time saw Hercules take a 1-0 lead. A second was scored shortly after the break, and just like the 1st half the game consisted of possession and counter attacking. Two late goals in the last 5 minutes gave Hercules a flattering 4-0 victory. 

Despite the scoreline, there were plenty of positives to take out from the game and I look forward getting back to the training pitch with the boys to strengthen our strengths and work on our weaknesses. “The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”

Follow Coach Phil @coachphilp