By Pat Eyler
RSL’s academy is something special, but there is always room for growth. Some of that growth is because of things the academy does on its own. Some of it comes from the senior team. I recently found out about a league-wide program that looks poised to help all of the MLS academies.
"On Feb. 25, MLS announced a partnership with the French Football Federation designed to bring the 19 MLS teams’ youth academies to a higher level by enrolling one coach from each in the 16-month Elite Formation Coaching License course. Eight weeks of classroom and field instruction culminate in several weeks of observation at the academy of a premier European club with the course completing in May 2014."
Since I haven’t been able to find much more about this program, I went to Grande Sports Academy to see what I could find out. Coach Freddy Juarez is RSL’s participant in the program. He was kind enough to talk to me for a few minutes and share his thoughts.
Why is the league doing this?
MLS wants to be one of the best leagues in the world, and they know that they need to make those improvements from the bottom up. We know that the French Federation is one of the best in the world with respect to player development. They export the most players in Europe to the professional leagues. This is a chance to educate us in how they do things.
How have you been involved so far?
Well, it’s an eight week course, it’s very demanding. We will put in over 900 hours of work by the time the course is over in classroom settings and on the field.
Back in March, I spent the first week of the course, 9 days, in Clairefontaine, France. After that, I spent time at the Athletic Bilbao's Academy observing their program.
In June, we spent 10 days in here in the States. And I just got back from 12 more days in Clairefontaine, followed by an observation period at Bordeaux.
There will be two more sessions, the next one will probably be domestic and the last one in Clairefontaine. We’re supposed to finish next October.
It is great to see the league doing a program like this and that an RSL coach gets to participate. We will continue to follow Coach Juarez and this program and will check back in with him at a later date to see how everything has gone and will report back here.