Vélez Completes Successful London Tour

Posted by Miguel Nuila on Aug 21 2006 at 05:00PM PDT
Vélez completed their tour of London with the utmost of success and fun. There were soccer elements, cultural elements, and political elements that the kids got to experience and benefit from during the trip.


* Training at Charlton was excellent and provided the balance between new and challenging exercises as well as excitement.

* Training at Chelsea was the kids' favorite but perhaps our (Velez coaches) second favorite. We believe the Charlton training benefited the team more but the Chelsea trainer is the utmost in statesmanship for the club. A crowd pleaser.

* Training at Arsenal was interesting. Perhaps the kids toughest (they were very tired going in) and the technical requirements were quite tough. Given that Arsenal does not lend out its Academy coaches, we understood that we were getting an Arsenal Community Development coach. it was interesting material. Very tough for the kids to master and ultimately something we will be bringing and using at home. But the kids didn't care for the lack of excitement in the practice. Had we to do it again, we would have skipped Arsenal.

* Tottenham was exciting and fun as we got Academy coaches working with the boys. Lots of energy and demanding techniques. We could see a full week with them at a better facility.

In retrospect, if we were to do it all over again, we'd probably ask for one Club to coach the kids for 8 sessions over 6 calendar days with rest built in. Every time we went to a new Academy, because the coach's did not understand the level of our kids, they'd start from the beginning with them. Fatigue also caused diminishing returns.

* Game against Graves End and Northfleet ended 3-2 Vélez through four quarters. Big and fast but a good matchup. Our dribblers did well against them.

* Game against Fulham U14 + some U15's ended 2-0 Vélez through four quarters. Very technical in their play. We thought they'd be a lot more physical but they were actually quite gentlemenly in their approach to the scrimmage. I was very surprised.

* Game against Cambridge U16 ended 0-0 through four quarters. Very fast and strong with good organization. It was difficult to get the ball in the net but we had the run of play.

* Game against Reading U15 ended 3-0 to Reading through two halfs although it was 1-0 for a very long time into the game (60+ minutes). It was a very physical affair bordering on violent especially towards the beginning of the match. we had kids with teeth knocked out and jaws broken, concussions, hyperextended knees, pulled muscles and fatigued to no end. Six players in total at the hospital or team trainer after the game. They too took some knocks as the game was played at a tempo unseen by our kids before. In retrospect, had we gotten hurt trying to win balls and had they simply been bigger, stronger, and faster to the balls, then we would have been in awe of the quality of athletes and of the level of their play. But the truth is that we got hit late and repeatedly with half, but not all of the injuries, being due to mistimed tackles. Our love of holding the ball precipated a lot of the late hits and the referee called very little (no foul with one of our boys holding his teeth in his hand). Our taller dribblers took the brunt of the punishment as the little guys were hard to catch. It was impressive to see the difference in body mass between the Reading team (mixture of Academy players and adjuncts that train with the team)and ourselves as we looked tiny in the midfield where ironically, we had most of our success. To their credit, they were very well organized on the ball and had the run of play. Absent of the violence, it was an impressive display of power and talent. We were proud to see how some of our boys could not only keep up with the Reading boys, but could also impose their playing style forcing Reading to make adjustments.


* Riot? Did anyone say riot? Prior to the Chelsea - Celtics match, some Velezians got to enjoy a riot outside the stadium with people getting arrested, beers getting thrown with punches, and horses and cops everywhere. It was actually quite exciting. Luckily, most of the team was already in the stadium. Vélez kids also enjoyed everything from the Theatre to the House of Commons to Lillywhites, Carnaby Street, British Museum, Natural History Museum, Soho, Cambridge University, Reading, and lots of other attractions. The smiles on their faces said it all. The toughest part was trying to get them to watch the correct way prior to crossing streets. Quite a few scary moments for us coaches. If we were to do it all over again, we'd cut back on the "team" outings and simply leave the time as open time, so that families or groups can go where they wish to go or simply stay behind and rest. We needed to schedule more rest.


* Unfortunately, the terrorist threat cancelled all flights out of Heathrow for days (including ours). The resourceful Velezians found alternate routes home prolonging their vacation through places like Shannon, Manchester, and Belfast. Thankfully, everyone made it home safely although some boys were late for high school tryouts.

A very special thanks to all the parents and to Cambrian for making this trip so enjoyable and valuable. Cambrian was intrumental in ensuring we all found our way home and was flexible the entire trip to ensure that all our needs were met. Kudos.

* Summer 2006
European Excursion England (Chelsea/Arsenal/Charlton/Totenham Academies):
Official Itinerary


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