In order to improve the quality of its academies MLS – the professional soccer league of North America – sends talented academy coaches abroad to learn from the best and to implement best practices in their respective clubs in the US and Canada. ‘The Feyenoord Academy structure makes a lot of sense’, said Vancouver Whitecaps U18 coach Rich Fagan. ‘The Feyenoord Academy is not a science lab but a football factory. At the end of the day that is what is most important.’
‘My goal was to be open minded and learn a bit more and ultimately, to embrace the culture and club as much as I could’, added Tom Torres, U18 head coach with DC United from Washington. ‘That was achieved on the first day and continued throughout. Our club mentality is very similar to Feyenoord. Both clubs demand a maximum effort and a working mentality from players in everything they do. There is a coherent vision. Every person I talked to here said the same thing. I wanted to learn how to get players in the first team and Feyenoord embodies that. We will take from our visit the way it is done in terms of organization. We thank their staff for their quality and openness, the entire Feyenoord program from top to bottom is world class.’
Former USA international player Paul Holocher, currently U18 and U16 coach at San José Earthquakes, had an equally positive experience. ‘I chose to come to Feyenoord because of the great things I heard and read with regards to the development of youth players. When I came here it has been an amazing life experience as a coach. It is clear that Feyenoord has an amazing philosophy based on common sense and a game model. What I really enjoyed was the comradery between the coaching staff and between coaches and players. It is a great place to be working. I am going to take a lot of things I observed and take it back to my club. I thank everyone at Feyenoord for great hospitality. They were so open and friendly and I am now a Feyenoord supporter of the highest category!
Rich Fagan also came away with some general learnings for his club. ‘What has impressed me most at Feyenoord is how important the club is to the community and the community to the club. That is unique and inspiring. It taught me that we need to be more visible and have a real attachment to the community in order to be able to grow.’