When I was a child born and raised in the UK, I loved playing football. I was the kind of kid who hated rainy days and got frustrated when the sun went down in the evening and we had to return home from our game of “3 and in”, “Wembley” or “headers and volleys” at the local park. Rain or darkness meant playing would have to wait until another day.
As I grew into adulthood I knew I wanted two things: to stay active in football and to help young people experience the same joys I had whilst playing the game. I moved to Singapore in 1998 and recognised the lack of quality football organisation for amateur players and children alike. In 2004 myself and my business partner, Mathew, formed ESPZEN to revolutionise Amateur football in Singapore... we started with the adults and after a few years of rapid growth we ran active leagues for Men and Women organising over 3,500 game per annum, for 4,000 players (over 180 teams). The revolution however was not complete, many children in Singapore (in 2012) we felt were missing out and not receiving a quality soccer school experience.
Growing up in the UK, I have experienced quality professional coaching myself whilst captaining my school 1st X1 team in Chigwell-UK, and representing South East England school boys. As a coach I have attended many coaching workshops including training courses run by the FA(UK) and also courses run by renowned international coaches. In addition having observed Premiership Academy coaches in action and have researched many UK Premiership Club’s academy syllabus, I can safely say that within Singapore, exercises / techniques that should be used to encourage children to become better players in the game are very rarely seen or practised.
ESPZEN’s mission therefore is to put in place a Soccer School, which I would be happy for my children to attend – the bar is set high. The vision is to build a Soccer School where every session is a learning and challenging experience for its young football players, coach to student ratios that are manageable and young footballers have the opportunity to learn how to “play” the game, focusing on long term development and not short term results. I believe whole heartedly in small sided games and want to play these games using coaches who understand how children learn. In all our sessions the objective is to improve a players learning, enjoyment and ability, using the following 5 principles:-
These practices are designed to not only inspire, but also motivate the players in real game situations that give them freedom of choice and movement both in and out of possession. The basic techniques of passing, dribbling, running with the ball, shooting, tackling and heading will all be used to solve a match problems, rather than constant repetition. Sessions will have goals for both the attacking and defending players in order to aid the tempo, competition and enjoyment of the practice.
If you are reading this introduction as a prospective parent, I encourage you to bring your child down to a free trial session, to see with your own eyes our methods and philosophy or perhaps watch some of our match videos (there is no better advert for a soccer school than young footballers who have grown up in the school displaying their skills and football intelligence). The video of our 6 and 7 years old players demonstrate our philosophy beautifully, in the game the players were asked to focus on maintaining possession.
If your child is currently at another soccer school – please take time to read the article IS YOUR CHILD'S SOCCER SCHOOL PROVIDING VALUE? – this article was written to empower parents with a new insight to appraise a Soccer School’s performance.
2012 is the start of ESPZEN Soccer School, a journey which involves raising the bar for Soccer Schools in Singapore and the region, creating a new benchmark and a standard for others to follow. I look forward to welcoming you and your young footballer to our training very soon.
Yours in football
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