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Tour to Holland

As Director of TWAcademy.Org I organised a tour for 25 boys & parents to travel to Holland.  The tour arrangements were organised by my close friend & top Dutch Coach, Bert-Jan (BJ) Heijmans.  The tour brought together a selection of boys from over 6 different boys & Irish League clubs.  The tour offered an opportunity to live the life of a professional during the 4 day training camp.

After a great flight from Belfast International to Schiphol Amsterdam we were met by a luxurious coach & good friend BJ.  We transferred to Den Bosch to our base at the 4* Hotel Vaught.  After checking into our rooms & unpacking we met up for a team meeting.  BJ took the opportunity to welcome everyone & explain in full the weekend ahead.  The squad then enjoyed a meal together before having a stroll to the old town.  The boys then headed to their rooms for a well deserved rest.

Saturday morning the team met for breakfast before transferring to VV Eindhoven, this is a feeder team of PSV Eindhoven.  After a team talk & warm up the boys took to the field for what would turn out to be an excellent performance & very entertaining game.

Eindhoven v TWAcademy.Org, Saturday

The match was played in 3 periods of 25 minutes.  During the first period we had a number of great chances created by some fast flowing football.  Unfortunately Mackie, Stewart & McCrory couldn’t break the deadlock.  Against the run of play, & right before the first break, Eindhoven scored to go 1-0 up.  A very cool finish by the Eindhoven forward.

The second period was very exciting.  Mackie scored probably one of the hardest of his opportunities by finishing well with a volley to make the score 1-1.  More excitement was to follow after a free kick was awarded on the edge of the Eindhoven box.  Ryan McCrory stepped up to score a marvellous free kick into the right hand corner of the goal, 2-1 to TWAcademy!

All the goals seemed to be saved for the final period.  Eindhoven equalised, making the score 2-2.  Soon after Luke Fisher received the ball on the half way line & beat 2 players as if they weren’t there.  He then outsprinted the covering defender before cutting inside & finishing with a lethal right foot finish, 3-2.  TWAcademy then took control with Mikey Crawford taking a well worked goal, 4-2.  The temperature continued to rise & some tired legs started to show.  Although it was the heads to go first, switching off from a corner Eindhoven pulled a goal back.  A number of the Academy players were frustrated & ran to the referee claiming that the corner was taken half way between near post & corner flag.  To their frustration this is allowed in Holland.  Again this shows how they tailor the game to the children in Holland.

With minutes remaining the talented PSV Eindhoven forward finished brilliantly to make the final score 4-4.  What a great performance by the young boys.  The scouts watching were very impressed & will monitor a number of the TWAcademy players.

Philips Stadium

After the game we enjoyed lunch on the executive bus that the Premiership teams use for games.  We transferred to PSV Eindhoven’s ground, The Philips Stadium.  Our tour guide was very friendly, informative & interested in our party.  We got pitch side, taken through the changing rooms, media room & executive seating area.  We walked the corridors that many famous players & managers of the past have done.  This includes the great Sir Bobby Robson & players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Before returning to the hotel we had opportunity to purchase some PSV gear in their shop.

Evening Session

BJ then took the boys for a training session at a fantastic indoor arena owned by our friend Martien Pennings.  Martien is a head scout at PSV & travelled over to Belfast to operate a clinic for coaches for TWSports.Org.

BJ’s session involved all the players & each of them always had a ball.  You can view these sessions on a DVD that will be produced from our trip.  For more information contact me on, 077 4012 0788.

Helmond Sport v TWAcademy.Org, Sunday

After breakfast we transferred to Dutch First Division side, Helmond Sport.  With the first team being away we had the opportunity to play in the first team stadium, a 5000 all seater stadium!  What a great experience for the boys.  The pitch was shortened & smaller goals placed on either 18 yard line.  Again proving why the Dutch are more technically gifted & offer a more child friendly approach.

The game was quite one sided with TWAcademy.Org recording a great 10-1 win.  Although the Dutch counter parts were younger, played some nice football & never gave in.  Again a number of the TWAcademy players attracted interest.

The game finished with everyone hitting a penalty.  In both games our Dutch counterparts offered us all the balls, bibs, cones & water we required for our warm up.  We had showers & changing rooms & a club room for tea & coffee.

Dutch Taste

After the game we went to the local chippy to discover the Dutch equivalent to fish & chips!  Although some of the kids were not fussed on some of the items the parents & coaching team enjoyed it!

We then went for a game of bowls before transferring back to the Philips Stadium to watch PSV Eindhoven v AZ.  After a non eventful first half the second half improved & we cheered PSV on to a 2-1 victory.

After a very busy, but very enjoyable couple of days, we enjoyed a free night in the hotel.  Along with BJ & Danny we carried out player analysis after dinner.  This offered a 1-to-1 informative chat with each player to add to their game & how they can improve on any weaknesses.

PSV Eindhoven First Team Training, Monday

After breakfast we boarded the bus with our luggage sad knowing that it was our last day in Holland.  But to cheer us up BJ had organised another fantastic day!  We arrived at the first team training ground of PSV.  We saw a couple of first team & reserve team players train.  They also took the time to speak with us, sign autographs & pose for photos.

They also had their academy players in for a week of professional training.  2 sessions daily, basically training as a first team player.  It was fascinating to watch.  Kids had the freedom to train & coaches got down to their level & made it fun but always high tempo & use of the ball.

Hans Segers

I think the highlight was meeting ex Wimbledon keeper (aka crazy gang!) Hans Segers.  He is now a goalkeeper coach at PSV & organised a penalty shoot out for the boys against the PSV keeper!

It hit home to everyone – players & parents – to what I have been saying over the past number of years.  In Holland everyone is so approachable & down to earth.  There are no big egos or super stars.  This was our final meeting at PSV at what a way to finish on!

Ajax, Amsterdam ArenA

Before making our way back to the airport we stopped off to enjoy a stadium tour of Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA.  We also had time to view the historic museum of this great European club.

On our way back to the airport our captains, Luke Fisher & Keegan Rice, presented BJ & our coach driver with gifts & made a speech through the microphone on the coach.  They spoke very well & it was very moving for BJ to have 2 young boys speak so well.

Observations

This was my fourth time in Holland.  So was great to meet up with friends & for so many parents & boys to see my love for the country & philosophy so much.  The boys & parents mixed so well.  It shows the training each week at the Academy really does add to their games along with what they receive outside of that.  In Holland boys of 11 & 12 will train up to 4 times per week.  In Northern Ireland the reality is once weekly, maybe twice.  This is why children attending the TWAcademy don’t only benefit from another session but the quality coaching & opportunities they receive really does add to their game.

Another massive difference is that the Dutch continue to work with players & always keeping them at a level that suits.  While Premiership clubs (& youth teams in NI) replace up to 50% of their players it is no surprise long term development is not available & more & more players are leaving the game.

The DVD features BJ’s analysis on this & what he thinks about TWAcademy.  If you want to hear more & watch more sign up to our Facebook page & You Tube channel.

This experience will live with us all.  We have made a video show casing what we do along with footage from our tour.  Watch our video review by clicking this link!

Future

The boys will continue to train with myself on a weekly basis.  Some also have booked & continue to avail of my 1-on-1 coaching.  We will return to Holland.  We also have an invite from Portugal.  Short term we will look at taking the boys over to visit BJ in Durham & play his side as well as Sunderland or Newcastle.

We also hope to organise player & coach exchange between TWAcademy & in Holland.  Many of our players attracted interest.  So if you would like to find out more about getting your child involved simply contact me now, 077 4012 0788 or by email.

Thanks

TWAcademy.Org would like to thank our sponsors; Absolute Marketing, Grounded Espresso Bars & Kaizen Print.  We extend our thanks to all the children & parents for their support.  Finally we thank all the clubs & people in Holland that welcomed us along with BJ who put together one magical experience!

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