Wolves Player ID Camp – June 3-5th in Burlington

1v1 Soccer FC is delighted to announce that Marc Campbell, Wolves Academy Assistant Manager will be visiting Burlington on June 3-5th to train and evaluate young players (Boys & Girls) aged U8-U18.

The best players will be selected for a National camp and potential selection to travel to England to train at Wolves. Players can register directly for the camp here 2016 will be a big year for Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club as it seeks to continue to grow on the international stage, in conjunction with its partner, Global Image Sports (GIS). Since coming together a few years ago with the aim of growing Wolves in North America and South East Asia – the club has seen large numbers of players attend regional identification camps and then later National Selection camps in both Atlanta, Georgia and Singapore. Wolves will only send out the top academy coaches from Compton Park to work with these players in a bid to possibly one day identify a potential new recruit into the club but also to provide the opportunity and experience for partner club development. Fundamentally – the partnership enables the Wolves coaching staff to work directly with these clubs in America, Canada and South East Asia, develop and instil the ‘Wolves Way’ into the clubs and ensure a better standard of coaching provision, player development and international growth of the brand that is synonymous with the club.

Learn More About Wolves


Wolves FC: Global Image Sports Link Growing

marc campbell-gis

2016 will be a big year for Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club as it seeks to continue to grow on the international stage, in conjunction with its partner, Global Image Sports (GIS). Since coming together a few years ago with the aim of growing Wolves in North America and South East Asia – the club has seen large numbers of players attend regional identification camps and then later National Selection camps in both Atlanta, Georgia and Singapore.

Wolves will only send out the top academy coaches from Compton Park to work with these players in a bid to possibly one day identify a potential new recruit into the club but also to provide the opportunity and experience for partner club development. Fundamentally – the partnership enables the Wolves coaching staff to work directly with these clubs in America, Canada and South East Asia, develop and instil the ‘Wolves Way’ into the clubs and ensure a better standard of coaching provision, player development and international growth of the brand that is synonymous with the club.

The international academy players benefit from greater levels of coaching from a category one academy at the EPPP level and some are chosen year on year from the National Selection camp (last year there were circa 150 players in total at this event) to return to Compton Park in the spring. Here – they are treated as academy players and get to experience a week in the life of a young player at a Category One academy. Training sessions, nutrition, match preparation and evaluations are all carried out whilst the players and their families get to attend live matches, days out in Birmingham and London as well as a guided tour of Molineux! This year alone – there will be approximately 80 players who will work under the guidance of Gareth Prosser, Marc Campbell and Steve Cullis to help them get familiarised with what it takes to train alongside their peers in the UK. They have all been hand-picked following a 4 day residential camp carried out last summer and are chosen directly by the academy coaches who want to give them the opportunity to train within a professional UK academy setup.

Global Image Sports are responsible for representing Wolves in the USA, Canada and South East Asia and through their expertise in the regions – have helped grow the club into a leading entity – with more partner clubs year on year signing up to link with Wolves. Through collaboration with the Compton Park team, GIS are also able to provide resources and assistance to the partner clubs so that they can access coaching content, player development tools and also ensure that the ‘Wolves Way’ is ingrained into these clubs in order to ensure adequate delivery of good quality coaching. GIS will also help young players in these regions by preparing them for the demands of the schedule in addition to giving advice in social media education, player welfare and access to high quality camps where they can be seen by the Wolves staff. They will also provide the coaching staff and club with full access to a huge number of regional identification camps, look after logistics and marketing of the club at these events – as well as maximising exposure through the media in these parts of the world.

GIS have also begun to work more actively in the UK and help Wolves by providing support via the EPPP to any player who may be released at 16. Here, they will offer a free service to help find the player a place in a North American College or University, providing a world class education whilst also giving the player the chance to continue a playing career in a fantastic environment with plenty of scope for professional development. This link is also extending to Thomas Telford School near Wolverhampton where a large number of former Academy players attend. Both the Wolves Academy and the school can also use GIS to send teams abroad to play in GIS organised tournaments against other European/American/Canadian academies in order to garner valuable international experience for the young players.

Recently – Wolves welcomed the GIS Singapore Elite group across – all chosen from a coaching residential camp back in August of 2015. After a fantastic week of high quality training sessions and guidance under Marc Campbell, Assistant Academy Director, both the club and GIS managed to interview Marc about the way the week had gone – including asking him about the upcoming groups of players selected from the USA and Canada that are due to train at Compton Park between 27th March and April 10th.

Both Wolves and GIS are tremendously excited about the future of this partnership and maybe one day…a GIS player will be able to join the ranks of those at Molineux!

The Importance of Self–Motivation in Becoming a Top Player

wolvesin dome

A recent interview with Arsène Wenger, manager of the topflight English club Arsenal, outlined the importance of young players learning to be “consistently motivated” in order to play at the highest levels of the game.

In his typically thoughtful style, Wenger defined a motivated person as “someone who has the capacity to recruit the resources to complete a goal.” He then gave an example of how he got lost jogging in Japan. He explained how he was motivated to come back to the hotel but could not find his way back. He could have hailed a taxi but as a sportsman he was determined to find a solution himself and find his own way back.

In summary, Wenger believes that when you look at people who are successful they are the ones who are consistently motivated and always willing to made sacrifices to achieve their goals. This mirrors what I see at our academy at 1v1 Soccer. We have had players join our program at various ages and abilities. The ones I focus I most on and believe will go on to play at higher levels are the ones who are determined to truly make themselves players. During training, they simply get on with it. They train like it will be their last session and are constantly on the edge during our technical warm-ups, trying new things and not being content with their current level of skill.

When we play small-sided games and constantly change conditions, they are the players quickly working out how to succeed within the changing environment. They are the players who are capable of playing at a high level themselves but also inspiring and helping other players around them. In football (soccer) your teammates are the best judge of your performance. Despite what parents and even coaches see on the sidelines, teammates are the ones who truly know if you’re making yourself available for passes, making runs off the ball into open space, changing the point of attack based on what the opposition is doing, making tracking runs back to assist the defence and able to produce something a little different when the pressure is on.

Players and their parents do not often realize how much coaches learn about players when you observe them off the field. Are they mixing well socially, do they carry their own boots and training bag, do they tie their own laces? These behaviors can all be indicators of how self-motivated players are and can give a very good idea of whether or not take responsibility for preparation themselves. Do players ask questions during training to the coaching staff as they try
to understand instructions? Can they work things out for themselves, solve problems, and are they determined to overcome obstacles?

Think of the last time you truly had to work out something by yourself. Maybe you had a flat tire, your lawnmower was not working or you just could not get in touch with your boss to make an important decision. We’ve likely all been in those situations where we have had to work things out for ourselves and have had no other options. Chances are you probably exceeded your own expectations of yourself and successfully resolved the issue. You probably also felt a surge of pride and confidence in accomplishing that.

That is exactly the type of feeling that we should be trying to instill in our young players. Parents and coaches can both contribute to this. Parents can give young players the responsibility of checking on their training times and game schedules, emailing the coach if they cannot make a practice or game. The players can be responsible for packing their own equipment and water, carrying their own training bag and tying their own laces. Coaches can help by giving players the responsibility for warm-up, taking care of equipment and even providing them the responsibility to think up and organize the small-sided game at the end of practice.

As a player gets older, this approach becomes more and more important. One of our 1v1 players recently attended a camp at a US university, where she learned from the coaching staff that if a parent sends an email to a coach inquiring about the team’s program and showing interest in their daughter being recruited, that player’s name goes to the “bottom of the list” — since those coaches are only interested in dealing with players who take the initiative on their own, and not with potentially intrusive parents.

We have many good technical young players in North America. If they can marry good technique with consistent motivation as outlined by Wenger, then we can expect great things from our young players. If we shelter them from decision-making and responsibility on and off the field, my fear is that we will develop skillful young players who will struggle later on with the skill-sets they will need to overcome the inevitable set-backs that elite sport will throw their way.

Let’s teach young players to be determined, demanding of themselves to improve and to be consistent with it. If young players can do that, they might just be having a chat with Mr. Wenger one day.


This article is an excerpt from “Play the 1 v 1 Way: Soccer Tips From and Emerging Talent Centre.” This book is aimed at parents, coaches and players, and details both McClurg’s philosophy on development, as well as practical tips for building young male and female players looking to take their game to the next level.

If you enjoyed the article you can purchase the complete eBook version click here 


1v1 Soccer FC Launches New U16-U20 Program

Ian McClurg Interview

I am delighted to announce the launch of our NEW U16-U20 team program for the 2015-2016 season. It has long been a goal of mine to provide an intensive training and competitive games program for this age-group to prepare these players for higher levels of play. I will be Head Coach for this new team.
Trials will be held on Monday September 28th, Tuesday September 29th and Thursday October 1st at City View Park in Burlington (5:30-7:00pm)  Register Here

Our NEW program is committed to providing players with the technical, tactical, physical and mental training necessary to take their game to the next level. In order to successfully compete with players from other soccer countries for professional playing opportunities in Europe and North America and scholarship opportunities in the US, young Canadian players must participate in an intensive training environment that can provide the following:

  • Technical Development to improve comfort and proficiency on the ball
  • Tactical knowledge and understanding
  • Soccer specific physical training
  • Mental preparation to improve discipline and commitment


This training program will train players to compete. The greatest challenge for Boys aged 16 and above is to make a successful transition from the youth game to men’s soccer. The adult game is faster, more physical and there are more tactical challenges. Some players are ready to manage the transition early, while others may require more preparation and time to successfully complete this transition. For players looking to pursue professional playing opportunities and/or US Scholarships at top programs it is important that they begin to participate in an intensive training program that facilitates this transition as soon as possible.

1v1 Soccer FC will be structuring our program to optimise fitness preparation, individual and position-specific skills as well as performance. More advanced tactical elements of the game will be introduced. During this phase, high intensity individual, and position-specific training will be provided to players. Soccer specific skills will be performed under a variety of competitive conditions during training.

Development pathways 2015


Player Development Scorecard for North American Players

How can young North American players successfully compete internationally?

During the last few weeks I have been travelling across Canada conducting player identification camps for Wolves FC. This is my 3rd year of coaching and observing and in that time I have coached and observed over 600 players across the United States and Canada. In addition, I have coached at the Wolves National Camp in Rome, Georgia and travelled to Wolves on five occasions to observe academy training, watch academy games and work with the Wolves academy staff to continue my own education as a coach.

Coaching in GeorgiaI launched 1v1 Soccer FC back in 2000 with an aim to provide young players in Canada with training experiences comparable to leading soccer nations. During that time we have produced young players that have been invited for trial at Sevilla FC (Spain), spent extended stays at the Wolves FC academy in England, and gone on to play for Toronto FC academy, Canadian national teams and the Ontario provincial programs. Several players have also successfully pursued scholarship opportunities at US colleges.

My coaching work has always been focused on how young players in Canada can reach international standards and successfully compete at that level. I quickly identified that technique was one area that the typical North American players have struggled in comparison with their international counterparts. It is for that reason that our programs have always had a strong technical focus.

Coaching contact time in Europe far exceeds North America

Our strong technical focus has allowed our players to succeed in the modern game and train at a good level when mixed in with young academy players in Europe up until the U12 level.

GRAPH TRAINING HRSHowever, the increased coaching contact time in Europe places young North American players at a significant disadvantage. Young players at professional academies in Europe (at U12 levels and above) are now receiving 15-20 hours of quality training by UEFA “A” and “B” licenced coaches.



coaching ratio





As a result I am now seeking significant gaps develop between young European and North American players. I have begun to document these based upon my coaching observations and in a series of articles in the coming weeks I will begin to document what young North American players can do to close these gaps.constraints


 The Modern Game

The game of soccer continues to evolve. In order to provide successful direction on technical planning it is important to identify and recognize trends within the game. This defines the attributes that players must have in the future to be successful.

The game is much quicker and the technical, physical, tactical and mental demands now being placed upon players is much higher than they were in the past. For example, at the top levels of the game, players now cover 50% more distances during games than they did in the mid-1960.

Technically, the players of the future will be required to be able to pass with both feet accurately over a variety of distances. First touch control will be a key requirement for players to thrive in tighter and more congested playing areas. In order to retain possession and then beak down more organized defences, players will have to execute technical skills with greater speed and precision. Those players who are capable of eliminating an opponent through individual play or through combining with teammates will be the most successful in the modern game.

The Attributes Required to be a successful player in the modern game


  • Ball Mastery Capable of close control with quick feet to make quick changes in direction. They must learn creative 1v1moves to eliminate defenders from the game
  • Passing and Receiving – capable of playing quick one and two touch passing on the ground with both feet. Can receive on the turn with the aim of playing forward when possible
  • Turning – Capable of shielding and executing sharp turns and accelerating away from defenders into open space
  • Shooting – Capable of shooting accurately and consistently from different angles and distances


  • Ball Possession & Movement – Ability to retain possession playing one or two touch passing. The ball should be moved quickly and players should immediately make movements to support or receive after playing a pass
  • Transition – Players must be capable of transitioning quickly between attacking and defending situations
  • Build up play from back – in order to establish an attacking rhythm in games, players must be capable of successfully playing the ball out from the back and into the midfield areas


  • Speed & Agility – Players must have good agility, balance and co-ordination control and look to maximize their acceleration and deceleration speeds in small-space situations
  • Endurance – Players must be capable of maintaining high levels of performances over the distance requirements of their age-group. This can be developed more at the older age-groups.
  • Strength & Power – These attributes become more important once young players reach puberty. They help prevent injuries and allow players t be more competitive during game situations.


  • Respect for the game – players should respect at all times their coaches, teammates, referees and opponents.
  • Cooperation – players should fully participate, as part of the team, to help make the soccer experiences of the entire group a positive one
  • Commitment to Learning – players  should demonstrate at all times a “deep thirst for learning” in order to maximize their potential

my observations





 The Way Forward for the Young North American Player

The key to modern youth player development is to engage the player and facilitate their learning within a positive environment that will ignite a life-long passion for the sport.

The fundamental requirement for successful player development is a LONG-TERM curriculum that places young players at the centre of the learning process.  True player development occurs when each player’s daily training and playing environment is of the highest quality. If this environment is consistent, with a clear vision of what lies ahead for the players, development is maximized

As we are living within a country where soccer is still considered a “new sport” for many the role of the youth coach takes on greater importance.

In a series of articles in the coming weeks, 1v1 Soccer FC will provide training content from our proven training methodology (www.playthe1v1way.com) that can help assist young North American players to close the player development gap between themselves and their counter-parts in leading soccer nations.

How to provide your Children with the best Opportunities for Soccer Advancement

During the last few weeks I have been involved in comprehensive discussions with Global Image Sports and Wolves on how young players in Canada, like ours can successfully compete with the development programs in leading soccer nations.

The challenges we face is that our men’s team is ranked 109th in the world and our women’s team is ranked 8th. Belgium with a population of 11 million is ranked 2nd on the men’s side while other small nations in the top 30 include Costa Rica, Wales and Scotland. My own country Northern Ireland, with a population of only 1.8 million is ranked 44 in the world. As it is my home country I will mention that it is the smallest country to ever progress beyond the group stages of the World Cup! We have accomplished this on every time we have qualified – 1958, 1982 and 1986!

Development pathways 2015On the women’s side we are ranked 8th in the world. However, after watching this world cup it is clear that other less known nations in the women’s game, like Holland and China, are much better technically than our players. As other nations invest in quality coaching development in the next few years, we will fall further behind.

The reason that we are falling further behind in Canada on the national stage is due to a lack of qualified coaches and development structure. This is why our young players will struggle to compete against players from other countries for opportunities in the professional game and at US colleges.

If you are a player at Wolves academy at the moment you will receive 8 hours/week contact time with your coaches up until age 10. After age 10 you will receive 12-16 hours/week.

I started 1v1 Soccer so that young players in Canada could receive the same learning experiences as other young players in leading soccer nations. That is why we have worked with Wolves and Global Image sports and will be strongly building upon this partnership in years to come.

Player ID camps like the Wolves Player ID camp that we are hosting on July 3-5th is designed to provide all our players with access to 6 hours of coaching by European coaches to improve them as a player.

Yes, some players may get selected yes….but EVERY player will leave there a better player who can compete more successfully against teammates to earn more playing time, be better equipped to succeed in SAAC games and be better prepared to take full advantage of any soccer opportunities that may come their way in the years to come.

Again, I would strongly encourage ALL players in our academy to take full advantage of this opportunity.

Learn more about this opportunity  or call us at 289-239-9602 or email academy@1v1soccer.ca

How North American Players can play in Europe

As soccer nations, the US and Canada are still very young. With that comes a lack of structure at the professional levels of the game, when compared to the more “mature” soccer nations of Europe.

There are fewer professional playing opportunities for the young North American players and a lack of clear pathways to play professionally. Major League Soccer (MLS) does provide some options for young players; however, with only 19 teams for all of the US and Canada, opportunities are limited.

2015 jpegMLS academies typically train 3-4 times/week with one game (which duplicates European academies) but this type of program is typically limited to players within a 1-1.5 hour drive time of the team’s training facilities. There is a similar drive-time restriction at various age-groups for young players in England attending professional club academies, but the difference is that there are 92 professional clubs in England, meaning that the majority of young players are within a relatively easy driving time (England is a small country, after all).

During the last three years, we have taken one 14-year-old player to Sevilla FC in Spain for a trial and this spring took 9 young players for a training week at the Wolves FC academy in England. I have been fortunate to observe team players and the academy sessions at both clubs. I would conclude that young North American players have good technical ability and up to ages U12 can more than hold their own. A gap appears from U12-U14, though, on the male side of the game, as the young European players at these ages tend to understand the game better.

They take more responsibility during the game for their own performances and those around them. They demand the ball, have a vision for what they want to do, and are more capable of executing moves at a high tempo on a consistent basis. I would say, though, that North American female elite players of any age can, on average, hold their own against Europeans.

By the time they get to the U14 age the young European male players are quicker, stronger and much more physical in their play. On the “development” side of things, they also have sports scientists monitoring their development. In addition they have a clear pathway to a career in professional football and are hungry to succeed. We are still lacking most of these things in North American soccer.

In my opinion, there are a couple of key ingredients young North American players must have if they are to successfully pursue playing options in Europe:

  • Accessibility to an EEC passport, through parents or perhaps grandparents, as this makes it easier for European clubs to sign them within European Union regulations
  • Commitment to focusing on improving their technical skills up to U12 levels
  • After U12, be in an environment that mirrors the European model for development — player development over winning (MLS or private-academies)
  • Opportunity to train at one of the professional club academies or receive instruction from academy staff of professional clubs (For example, through our affiliation with the Wolves FC academy our young players receive a min. of 6 hours of training from Wolves academy staff in Canada each year with the additional options of being invited to attend a 3 days residential camp or 1 week training at the Wolves FC academy in England)
  • Competitive games focussed on improving soccer education versus winning games. Within these games, players should learn what it takes to play multiple positions
  • Develop confidence in their ability and mental strength to challenge themselves in training and impose themselves in games
  • Opportunities to travel and play in Europe for an extended time i.e. greater than 1 month. These opportunities may also combine education with training as part of an overall development model.

If our young players are good enough and follow this process then I believe that they can create opportunities for themselves to play overseas. It is a very competitive environment in Europe. It is also more difficult for North American players to get signed as they do have to be significantly better than local players. But it is possible and with hard work and dedication, it can be achieved.

Just remember: “Hard work beats talent…especially when talent does not work hard”

Amazon Book revised(An excerpt from Play the 1v1 Way! by Ian McClurg)

Ian McClurg Appointed Official Wolves Scout

Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club — known to soccer fans around the world as “Wolves” — is pleased to announce that Ian McClurg will be joining the club as an official scout.  Ian is based near Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is owner and technical director of 1v1 Soccer FC – one of the UK club’s most successful partner clubs in North America.

2015-04-11 11.05.30 HDRFor the last two years, Ian has served as a scout and coach for the Wolves North American Academy and today’s announcement will increase the direct link from 1v1 Soccer FC to the Wolves FC academy in England.  Ian has been a frequent visitor to the Wolves academy at Compton — one of a only a handful of Category One academies in England — and has worked closely with the UK team’s academy staff to evaluate and assess young North American players who aspire to play at the game’s highest levels.

With this announcement, Ian will have increased responsibilities for training young players in North America using the “Wolves Way” methodology and for identifying youngsters for further training and evaluation opportunities in England.

”Over the last few years I have been very impressed by Ian’s work at the 1 v 1 Soccer FC Academy,” says Gareth Prosser, Wolves Academy Manager. “During this time, the staff and I have been fortunate to work with a number of players who have come from the 1 v 1 Soccer FC Academy and it is very clear to see they all have all been part of a thorough development programme. The philosophy Ian espouses mirrors all that we do here at Wolves and this is an ideal opportunity for both parties to further strengthen the relationship in place.”

2015 Wolves Academy – Elite Player Experience

Wolves na academy 2015

ARE YOU NEXT? – Attend our Wolves Player ID camp in Burlington, Ontario on July 3/4/5 to get selected for the 2016 Wolves Elite Academy Player Experience  register_now_button 2015 programs   

2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day One:

The Wolves 2015 Elite was the third annual trip organized by Global Image Sports. Day one consisted of the players and their families travelling from various locations across North America and arriving in Manchester for pick-up.

After airport pick-up and a brief rest the players travelled out to Compton Park for a tour of Wolves new $15 million facility.

Wolves are ranked as a Category 1 academy in England which places them at the same standard as Manchester City, Everton, Arsenal, Manchester United and other top EPL clubs. The Wolves Academy vision is to develop young and hungry players who understand the club DNA and are capable of meeting the demands of playing at the very highest level.

day 1They wish to achieve this by developing young champions who are hardworking, respectful and disciplined in their approach to life through an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach. Young players at Wolves practice prepare and perform in facilities that inspire individuals to achieve their potential.

The academy is a very important foundation for the club and the 1st team (which is currently challenging for a return to the EPL) currently have 8 academy graduates within its first team squad. Wolves have set themselves the following success goals:

  • Min. 1 academy graduate included in 1st team squad/season
  • Maintain a high number of academy players gaining professional contracts per season
  • Ensure players highlighted as having the potential to succeed at Wolves remain signed at Wolves
  • Create clear, appropriate and strategic development pathways to maximize the opportunities for young players to succeed
  • Continually improve processes of player support to maximize player potential

After a tour of the facility and a presentation on the club’s academy structure, the players returned to the hotel for an early night after their travels overnight.


2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Two:

The players were excited to train at the new facility at Compton Park and enjoyed their Monday morning training session. The players were divided into age-specific groups for the training. The session began with movement preparation activities by the Sports Science team and then progressed to high tempo ball mastery activities to music. Wolves have started adding music to the ball mastery activities and the players work non-stop at a high tempo for up to 20 minutes. The music seems to raise the tempo of the work and the players enjoyed the experience. From there, the players participated in small-sided activities with conditions in order to challenge the players to think how best to solve problems on the field.

day 2The training content at academy programs in England is  defined by the goals set out by the Premier Leagues The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) is a long-term strategy designed to take Premier League Youth Development to the next level.

The EPPP is the result of consultation between the Premier League and its clubs, representatives of the Football League, the Football Association and other key football stakeholders. The program has six fundamental principles:

  • Increase the number and quality of Home Grown Players gaining professional contracts in the clubs and playing first-team football at the highest level
  • Create more time for players to play and be coached
  • Improve coaching provision
  • Implement a system of effective measurement and quality assurance
  • Positively influence strategic investment into the Academy System, demonstrating value for money
  • Seek to implement significant gains in every aspect of player development

All professional club academies have been independently audited and given a Category status of 1 to 4, with 1 being the most elite. Up to 10 different factors have been considered in the grading – productivity rates of graduates, training facilities, coaching, education and welfare provisions.

Wolves are now in year three of their Category 1 designation (the highest level) and their program is ranked alongside the Premiership’s top clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton.

In the evening the players attended the Wolves versus Leeds United game at Molineux which ended 4-3 for the home side.  The stadium was packed for the Bank Holiday fixture and with seven goals and a winner scored by Dave Edwards in the dying minutes, it is doubtful if the players could have seen a more exciting and dramatic game. The result keeps Wolves on track for a possible play-off spot to gai promotion back to the English Premiership League (EPL).

2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Three:

Following the dramatic game at Molineux the previous evening, the players travelled to St. George’s Park on Tuesday morning for training.   St George’s Park is the English Football Association’s national football centre on a 330-acre site at Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. The centre was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 9 October 2012.

day 3 st. georgeThe purpose of the centre is to be the base for all coaching and development work undertaken by the FA, and the training and preparation ground for all of the England national football teams.  The facility has hosted all the English national teams prior to their games, Barcelona and other top clubs in Europe. The centre is home to the Nike Academy and the English National Women’s team and referees from the EPL were in attendance when the players visited.

The facility includes an indoor full-sized 3G field, an indoor futsal sports hall, 12 outdoor fields and a sports medicine centre. The facility also includes a Hilton hotel.  The players trained on the David Beckham field and after training received a comprehensive tour of the facility.

After training the players returned to the hotel for some rest prior to travelling to Birmingham to watch the Aston Villa v Queens Park Rangers game. This game was very important to both teams as they are both battling to stay in the EPL and avoid relegation. The players and their families enjoyed another exciting game with lots of goals as the game finished 3-3, with another late goal towards the end.

Watching live games is an important element for these types of trips as young players can learn about the passion of the game in England and also gain a much better idea of team tactics and general overall play when they attend live matches.

2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Four:


It is day four of the 2015 Wolves Elite academy experience trip. The players travelled out to the Sir Jack Hayward training ground this morning for their early morning session. The older male and female players trained with Wolves academy staff on the outdoor fields. The remaining players trained with the wolves’ academy U11 and U12 players in the new dome. The U11and 12’s Wolves players were on a school release day where they train at the academy for the full day, once a week. This full day out of school includes technical and tactical training, physical movement activities and mental preparation. The players also receive onsite tutoring in English and math.

day 4As mentioned, Wolves are a category one ranked academy and with their day release program and 3-4 sessions per week, the contact time with young players at can be between 14 to 20 hours each week. This is a large increase in the number of contact hours typically available to North American coaches.

This morning’s session focused on position specifics. Players were divided into their main positions so goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and strikers received training instruction specific to their player role responsibilities.

Playing alongside the Wolves academy players is a valuable experience for young North American players. It provides them an opportunity to gauge their development progress and over the course of the week they can see how far their performance levels improve when they receive the same training as the Wolves academy players.

In the afternoon the elite academy experience players travelled to Birmingham to play in a futsal tournament made up of Wolves academy players and themselves. This again provides the North American players with valuable feedback on their current performance levels and also the competitive experience of quickly working out how to succeed in this high performance academy environment.

In the evening the players completed another full day of soccer learning by attending the wolves U21 game at Molineux against local rivals Aston Villa. As many as eight players who were developed through the academy are now regularly involved with the first team. A few academy graduates were on the bench for the Wolves v Leeds United game which we saw a few days ago and they played in the U21 team tonight in order to get valuable playing time. The game finished 1 nil for Aston Villa but the players enjoyed seeing the next generation of young players being developed by Wolves and enjoyec the opportunity to see another top level game live.


2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Five: 

Day five of the 2015 Wolves Elite Trip. The players were up early this morning for an 830am training session at the Sir Jack Hayward training centre. The sun was shining so the players enjoyed the opportunity to train outdoors. Many of the North American players have been training indoors during the winter months so getting an opportunity to train outdoors will be good preparation as they get ready for their summer seasons.

After training the players set off for Manchester for a tour of Old Trafford stadium- home of Manchester United. The players were able to see around the Old Trafford stadium, learn about the clubs famous history and go into the club megastore.

day 5It was then back on the bus back to Wolverhampton for a second training session. For the evening session, the girls trained with the Wolves academy girls while the boys trained and mixed in with the Wolves academy boys teams.

This was the eight training session this week for the players on the trip. All players have adapted well to the demands of the training sessions and are starting to adapt to the high tempo of play in the UK. The pace of play is much quicker than in North America and so the players have had to typically play one of two touches to keep the ball moving quickly and avoid high pressure from the opposition. The game is also much more physical.

The players on the trip are mixing well with the players at the Wolves academy and with other. Playing futsal together yesterday allowed everyone to get to know each other and this is a valuable aspect of the trip. Travelling to the UK and spending time with other young people in a passionate soccer country is an experience that many of these young players will never forget.

On the soccer side, the players learn how young players in the Wolves academy typically spend their weeks. They receive top quality training on “the Wolves Way” by dedicated Wolves academy staff and the sports science team. On the people side, they get to enjoy spending time in a different country, meeting new people, learning about the history of the game in England and spending time at top stadiums such as Molineux, Villa Park and Old Trafford. On this trip the players also got to train at Wolves new state of the art facility and England’s national training centre at St. George’s Park.

2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Six:

Day six of the 2015 Wolves Elite trip. After eight training sessions this week, the players enjoyed a well-deserved day of sightseeing in London. The group travelled down to London and visited Buckingham palace. They then took advantage of the great weather by walking down into Westminster past the Houses of parliament to the London Eye.

day 6The players were able to enjoy a great view of City from the London eye and then the Thames River boat cruise. The early part of the trip has been busy for the group so it is important to build a rest day into the week. They have trained twice as many times as a typical academy player at Wolves, within a one week period. Therefore, in order to rest tired bodies and minds this type of day is very important. It also gives the players an opportunity to see the sights and learn more about the historical City of London.

The full development of the person is now accepted practice at academy programs at professional clubs in Europe. Players who are bright and educated off the field tend to indicate a good capacity for learning. Therefore, academic performance and how young players interact and treat others is now a key consideration for player identification for academy programs.

You can tell a lot about seeing how a young player behaves and conducts themselves when they travel, even for one day. For the young players on this trip to London, the experience is another step on their soccer pathway.

2015 Wolves Elite Trip – Day Seven:

Last day of the 2015 Wolves Elite trip. The players completed their final training session at the Sir Jack Hayward training centre. The North American girls trained together while the boys trained with the Wolves academy players at their age appropriate levels.

In the afternoon the players received a tour of the Molineux stadium and museum. This was the players third visit to the stadium this week but this time they were able to enjoy a behind the scenes look at the changing rooms, directors box , dugout , player lounge and press room. The players were also able to learn about the clubs rich history with a visit to the club museum.

day 7Many had not realized how big a club Wolves are. They have won all the major honors in England such as the league championship (equivalent of the EPL), FA cup and league cup. In the 1950s they were considered to be one of the top clubs in Europe and have produced England captains and international players from many other countries.

The museum visit was a fitting end to the week. Wolves are one of the top clubs in England. They have won major trophies in their past and have now invested heavily in an academy program to produce their next generation of talented players. Many teams in England are happy to have one or two homegrown players in their first team. A resurgent Wolves now have as many as eight academy graduates regularly involved in the first team and more are on their way. The club followed last year’s promotion from league 1 with a challenge for a top six place in the championship this season. The next few weeks will determine if they can match Southampton’s achievement of back to back promotions to the EPL.

The club has the highest academy designation in England alongside top clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United. They are structured off the field as an EPL club and it would seem only a matter of time before they return there.

The North American players this week were able to sample the life of an academy player at one of England’s top clubs. They received top quality coaching at state of the art facilities and were able to watch live games and fully immerse themselves in a passionate “football” culture.

They are better players and young people as a result of the experience and are returning to Canada and the US better equipped than ever to pursue the next steps of their soccer journey.