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The Lessons Newcastle United Must Learn From My Trip To PSV’s Youth Set-Up

8 years ago
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With the recent appointment of Joe Kinnear, it got me thinking about a coaching trip to PSV’s academy ‘De Herdgang’ a few years ago.

Certain things struck me immediately, such as how open it was for the public to pop in, very welcoming  & friendly.

I also noticed immediately that it was deliberately surrounded by trees in a wooded area (something that I think the north east academy lacks, now that might not mean a lot to you but it enhances the training experience, meaning when it blows a gale at least training sessions aree protected to a certain degree from the poor weather i.e help practicing corners.

I also found the gap/contact between fan & player is a short one compared to in England where we put them more on a pedestal & clubs won’t allow you within 200 yards of a player. Of course training continued while hundreds watched, however, after training ended the players were happy to mingle with fans and a relaxed happy atmosphere all round.

Remarkably a goalie called Gomes (currently still Spurs) waited for 10mins to speak to us & join our group photo. Only 2 security guards could be seen around the first team whilst elderly men/fans pop into the cafe & sit drinking (coffee or beer) discussing the previous night’s loss to Liverpool in the CL..

Whilst looking around the massive grounds (11 pitches) & impressive stands for junior games, we were asked to consider things like:

What is talent?
What is important for a talent?
How do you recognise talent?
And how do you get the best out of talent? 

These were only some questions we needed to ask ourselves. We also found that PSV concentrated on improving players in the order of

1st technically
2nd tactically
3rd personality

Then eventually, physically.

Hence, we see that the older players do more physical work than the younger kids whose technique was of utmost importance, so PSV have their own technical skills coaches. These coaches took the attitude that ‘Talent is not a fairytale’. We found that players have at least 1 skills session per week & they felt that if kids can be shown that first then all the better, be it by a coach or even by the use of a DVD, with repetition being very important.

I found out that PSV will do all they can to get a child to play for them at academy level because of the rule that a child can’t play for a club that is over 90 mins away from where they live. They have been known to help a player’s parents with a job within 90mins of the club. We were told that on average, for every child that plays for the academy it works out at just over an average of 1 player per team that is sent back to the club he came from so he does not fall out of the football system, or even the player is even given to another team club i.e. if he is deemed not good enough for PSV he would perhaps also be offered to other local professional clubs who play in the second division & handing a player to a local rival wasn’t an issue either.

Like a lot of clubs now, PSV admitted that they too also pay money for young players; however, amateur clubs were happy for their players to leave as the most important thing was the player’s development. However, more importantly, PSV’s coaches spent an awful lot of time going out to all local clubs & working & developing coaches in southern Holland.

The reason for this is that the better the coaches helping the kids, the better it actually helps PSV because one day it’s possible they will end up at PSV anyway but they certainly have an active policy of working with local clubs & to me the benefits are numerous.

Also, since PSV started their academy plans in 2003, they have the belief that all of the kids could play for the first team later in their footballing career, high expectations and in reality it will never ever happen, but still good practice in my opinion.

Not only was this facility far more equipped (compared to home) & a vital part of the future of the club, but you can’t help but notice a long term plan with lots of committed staff, all with the same philosophy, working closely together for the same aim of producing quality players.

Remarkably, before we left we got shown the same presentation that was given to a Mr.McClaren the day before, proving that PSV were happy to talk & share their knowledge and at that particular time The Herdgang cost £4ma year to run but that means they have to sell (or produce)at least one player per season to cover costs.

Now when I look at NUFC’s facility and community connections and read that season tickets holders’ £30 per season club membership fee is being invested into our academy, then read that we are still struggling for top academy status!

I then ask myself, what is going on at Newcastle?

Surely a DoF role would oversee or have responsibility for all the development issues, as well as signing our ‘purple players’.

Lastly, just in case you didn’t already know, everybody at PSV also loves Bobby Robson.

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