For the second year the CNSF has partnered with the Dutch/UK Coaching School and Paul Cooper, Give Us Back Our Game, to send three young coaches on an eye opening tour of how the Dutch educate their players. This year Thomas Lee Fitzgibbon, Charlie Clifford and Rob Lees went across the channel to get the European view.
First of all I must give a big thank you to the Foundation for what was a brilliant opportunity and turned out to be an even better trip. For a huge football fan, a coach and a Sports Scientist it was a hugely enjoyable and insightful adventure. The hospitality and openness of all the Dutch teams and people that we met was second to none. My final thank you goes to tour organiser and guide Bert-Jan Heijmans.
A lot was crammed into the five days of the tour with a very well structured itinerary followed religiously by all.
Undoubtedly my favourite moment of the tour was watching the PSV 1st team take on the reserves in a training session at their state of the art complex. To be allowed up close and personal watching one of the best teams in Europe was a real pleasure. The passing and movement was something to behold and was a nice change to some of the more agricultural football that is played by many of the Premiership teams!! The two mornings that were spent at the PSV training complex were extremely insightful and an experience that I doubt you could get in any other country. We were privileged to have presentations with chief scouts; youth team mangers and even a chat with current PSV manager Fred Rutten. All these people were very open and would answer any question directed at them, they even discussed tactics and about future star players in their development scheme. The sort of information that would never be discussed by the paranoid, secretive English clubs.
The biggest differences that I noticed between football in Holland and in England was the mentality that football clubs are a fundamental part of the community and the quality of the facilities at grass roots level. Hopefully if other young coaches, like me, get the opportunity to see how the beautiful game is run in Holland then we can start to change how it is run in this country.
Pictured above are Tom and Charlie.