Palace Soccer Schools attract international players
Children have been coming from far and wide to attend Palace for Life Foundation’s Soccer Schools this summer, with two brothers even travelling from Chicago to attend a course at a school in Bromley.
Tooni, 13, and Obafemi, 10, come to London every summer to visit family and found out about the Soccer Schools four years ago. They enjoyed going so much that they have been returning ever since.
“Originally we played at Kent County, but now there are more locations, we basically travel wherever we have to come for the Soccer School. We live with our grandma in Beckenham so it’s quite far but it’s worth it.
“The Soccer School allows you to train with the Palace coaches and develop in a professional environment,” explained Tooni.
Fumi, aunt to Obafemi and Tooni, reinforced her nephew’s enthusiasm for the sessions: “The boys really enjoy coming here. We don’t mind having to travel to the different locations to let them attend because they like it so much.”
This year, sessions have been enhanced with extended hours, healthy packed lunches and interactive workshops and the brothers were enthusiastic about the changes. Tooni said: “There is more focus on development. Learning actual skillsets rather than just playing football and doing different drills.” His younger brother, Obafemi, enjoys applying the techniques he learns in the workshops to the practical sessions: “It’s good to be able to use your knowledge of positions and football and then put it to the test. It’s competitive and we get to win bragging rights,” he added.
Not only has Tooni been able to progress his football skills at the Summer Schools, but he has also enjoyed socialising with fellow team mates: “It’s much easier making friends when everyone here loves football!”
Obafemi added: “I like the people and being able to play freely. A lot of the drills help my ability.”
The Soccer Schools run during the summer holidays across south London and Kent and give 5-12-year olds the opportunity to Train Like a Pro with experienced Palace coaches.
Another young player, seven-year-old Joseph, signed up to the Soccer Schools when his mum found out about them on the Foundation’s website. He attends with two friends from his local football club, Glebe FC, and a friend from school and has been enjoying the interactive sessions: “I like the classroom stuff because it’s not as sweaty and it’s good for when it rains! I also like the competitions we do in the classroom.”
Denise, whose son Max attends the Soccer Schools, was especially pleased about the workbooks given to the young players, in which the coaches write individualised feedback on their performances. She explained: “When Max comes home and we ask him how his day was, he usually says ‘good’ and nothing more. The workbooks are helpful because we can go through them and see what he’s done and learnt and ask him about it. The books let us prompt him to talk about his day in more detail.”
Foundation coach Michael Cleary explained more about the purpose behind the new interactive workshops: “The Soccer Schools challenge players a lot more now. The workshops get the players to understand a little more rather than just being out playing football.
“Football doesn’t change. We have more time now too to work on the pitch and develop a player’s understanding. Children learn in different ways so being able to address that in a classroom and on the pitch is useful.”
To reserve a place at a Palace For Life Foundation Soccer School before they finish for the summer on Friday 31 August, click HERE.