Posted: April 14th 2016


It was like coming home...

'This is how it's supposed to be done' I kept thinking...

See...not all Football Academies are created equal.

"A place of higher learning" is what an Academy is meant to be.

And right up there as one of the highest 'seats of learning' in UK Football is Fulham Football Club. How do we know? One word. RESULTS.

And no, I'm not talking about how many times their U9's have won.

The people there have been churning out top level players for years...

Huw Jennings has been dubbed 'The Best Academy Director in modern English Football' No wonder with his track record of producing players like Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Adam Lallana and loads more at Southampton.

And right beside him has been Malcolm Elias, a Welshman, working to find and develop some of the best 'talent' in the country for decades.

Now they are at Fulham together...

So it was a great honour to take our players from The Champion's Soccer Academy in Swansea to visit Fulham's Academy at The London School of Economics.

We left Swansea very early doors on two buses with our U10's, U12's and U14's last Tuesday.

The welcome we received the moment we got off the bus told us straight away we were in a good place.

It was great to talk to some of Fulham's Coaches like Arthur Brammer and Dan Thomas. Real classy people. "thoughtful, passionate and intelligent" like their Academy Director was described in an article in the Independent Newspaper.

Again, no coincidence that they are producing great players.

At TCSA we often say that 'better people make better players'. So it was also a blessing to be able to take some of the finest people and coaches in Wales in Huw Lloyd, Darren Vincent, Andrew Stokes and Adam Morgan up with our teams.

We were also joined by our friend Mike Fowler and his South Wales Elite Squad. Environment The relaxed, yet purposeful atmosphere was perfect for great Football and our boys didn't disappoint.

Our under 10's and U12's were very competitive versus Fulham. Our U14's were a little bit like 'Rabbits in the Headlights' starting off but grew into their game and ended up crafting some well-taken goals.

So we won some and we lost some...but as Huw Jennings said himself: "Both experiences are equally beneficial.

It is when the players realise the consequences of winning and losing. They all aspire to do well, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all.”

What matters is the integration of 'learnings', insights, small distinctions and nuances of what works and what doesn't, where and when on the pitch...?

This can only come in an environment free of undue pressure from adults. Of course there is 'pressure' from the 'demands of the game'.

We don't want to shelter our players from competition. We just need to make sure LEARNING is going on as well, so there is a relationship between practice and performances.

*************************************

That's where the magic happens.

*************************************