Our 2021-2022 season is here and off to an exciting start. We are thrilled to have our athletes back on IDA grounds and grinding on their game. After navigating uncharted waters last year, IDA staff and athletes are ready to hit the field.
One Month Down
We’re a month into having our players back at our campuses and the excitement is tangible. Coaches and IDA faculty have described the first month as highly-anticipated, a season start for the books, and a flash-back of normalcy. IDA’s focus, as always, is to combine individual player development on the pitch, with academic growth in the classroom. This year we’ve made it our mission to keep our heads in the classroom and cleats in the game as safely as possible.
Covid aside, we chatted with Jordi Gomez, IDA Valencia Director of Operations, about how the first month back at their academy went. Jordi gave us the run-down on how students are getting familiar with the campus, their coaches, and the city. Here’s what he had to say:
We have 50 players this year, 35 of them are new to our academy. Our veteran players are doing a wonderful job at helping out our newer players. From navigating our campus to exploring downtown Valencia, our seasoned players have played a huge role in our new player’s induction.
Now having 12 academy games under their belt, students are settling in and losing those first-game jitters. Coach Jordi noted that as the players get more comfortable in the facility, they’re getting more curious about exploring the city. So far, they have participated in a true Valencian experience of a lifetime, the Fallas Festival. Though typically celebrated in March, the festival was postponed due to covid to the first week of September and was attended by the students and IDA staff. The festival celebrates the coming of spring, fitting as we are celebrating the beginning of something ourselves, the school year that is.
The roster at our UK academy expanded as well. We welcomed 18 new international players and over 30 domestic academy players! IDA UK General Manager, Ross Weatherstone, said that though they’ve had the biggest intake of international students to date they have all integrated seamlessly with the UK domestic players. The players settled into their residences, explored the grounds, and met their coaches, professors, and teammates the first week back. They soon hit the field as players and spectators. IDA Uk pupils traveled to Wembley, the Home of Football, to support England in their international fixture vs Andorra. England beat Andorra 4-0, we’ll just say that the campus was anything but quiet that night!
“After a fantastic summer of football in the UK with the Euros and now with the Premier League back in full flow, it is football, football, football 24/7 here in the UK.” –Ross Weatherstone
With September underway, players at both academies are excited to attend LaLiga, Premier League, and Championship games. One of the many, many perks of attending IDA in Europe is the exposure to professional clubs, being able to learn live from the best of the best. Through this exposure, our players get a full understanding of what it takes to become a professional athlete – high-level training, nutrition, rest, and competitive opportunities. In addition to the player’s local cultural immersion, they are exposed to players from all over the world. This year IDA has students from 16 different countries – the USA, Canada, and Bermuda being the most represented.
We all know navigating pandemic times is no easy feat. The only thing that is certain is our commitment to our student-athletes and their commitment to their sport and academic success. With an extensive network, throughout Europe and the US, International Development Academy ensures a diverse range of educational experiences, resources, and pathways for all of its student-athletes.
Why attend a Residential soccer Academy in Europe?
A good start point is to reflect on what exactly is a Residential Academy and then begin to self-reflect on what your individual goals are as it relates to exploring the opportunity of living and training abroad.
A residential soccer academy will typically provide a player with:
· Competitive calendar – training and games
· Individual training and strength & conditioning plan
· Individual performance analysis with focus on areas for improvement
· Academic options as desired
· Cultural activities
As you reflect on what is the best fit for you, you need to consider a range of factors that will be personal to you and may include:
· Language of the country you intend to go to
· Climate and cuisine
· Academic options
· Accommodation options
· Training platform and staff
· Game calendar
· Opportunities afforded to trial at the professional level
Start your journey – talk to an IDA representative today!
The rationale for exploring a residential soccer experience in Europe may differ from person to person but some of the overall benefits will stay the same. These may include:
1. Becoming a better player:
Having the ability to enter into a professional training and playing environment that includes a significantly higher contact time with skilled staff will increase the development of talent. Players will still need to have the correct attitude and work ethic, but having a full-time schedule will see improvement across the four pillars of the game – technical, tactical, physical and psychological. Training and playing at a consistently more competitive level will stand players in better stead to return to a US college environment better prepared to contribute more quickly to the program they are entering.
2. Becoming a better person:
Taking a year to immerse oneself in a different culture is a tremendous way to expand your life experience. Having the capacity to learn a new language, try different cuisines, and generally be involved in a different way of life provides the opportunity to build independence, confidence and greater global awareness in general. This will set up student-athletes to return to a traditional college experience with more focus, self-reliance and maturity and allow them to show a college that they are going to enter their institution as a much more rounded person.
Schedule a call today with an IDA recruiter to see if you have what it takes to be part of our Academies!
3. Additional time:
This may be because a student-athlete already has secured a college spot and is looking to defer for a year to benefit athletically and socially from the extra time afforded by the deferral. It may be due to the fact that a student-athlete needs more time to figure out exactly what they want to do and have not been able to narrow the search enough to select the best fit possible. It may be that the student-athlete feels that a year training and playing in a full-time academy program will stand them in better stead to see increased playing time when to do attend the college of their choice.
While getting prepared for a great collegiate soccer experience in a full-time soccer environment, IDA residential academies offer student-athletes opportunities to be exposed to different levels of European football.
Weekly games vs professional academies and trials at local semi-professional and amateur clubs – the pathway towards professional soccer is the hardest one, but not impossible. ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough’.
Whatever the reason is for looking at the opportunity to be part of a residential soccer academy, you need to research your options thoroughly, be honest and open with yourself as to what you want, and get as much information as you possibly can before embarking on what can be a rewarding and exciting journey.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming collegiate season for the fall of 2020, there are more and more student-athletes exploring the possibilities of a gap year.
Taking a gap year is not a new idea or one that has sprung up from the arrival of the corona-virus. Taking a gap year is a decision by a student-athlete to use a year prior to going into the college environment for some specific reason. It is a very personal decision but generally revolves around the desire to achieve two things – becoming a better person and a better player. Taking a gap year away from home is likely to see a much higher level of maturation as it will involve a young player being outside of their comfort zone and is excellent preparation for what college life looks like. Deciding to take a gap year with a soccer component will allow a player to work in a full-time, intense environment and will improve their game as they continue to prepare for their final college decision.
We recently sat down with Mac Nagger to discuss how his GAP year in the UK impacted his playing opportunities in the United States. Mac had a dream of playing D1 soccer. He used a planned GAP year to fine tune his skills and is now playing for Iona College.
Growing up in NJ, Mac started playing soccer at the youth level primarily out of a love for the game. Mac was always looking for ways to get better instruction and this love quickly grew into a passion for finding the most competitive environment he could. As a defender Mac enjoyed being in a leadership role and directing the team at a strategic level. He went on to have a successful high school career and also played for one of the top clubs in his area, Match Fit Academy. This success only drove Mac to desire more, he wanted something more.
Mac considered his ultimate objective of playing college soccer and spent a lot of time visualizing the right school for him. He started to plan accordingly and by his junior year and mapped out 15-20 schools that met his academic business and athletic requirements. He wanted to find the right balance for his academic goals and for a standard of play that would provide the intensity and competitive level that he desired.
During senior year of high school, Mac realized that he wanted to have a better understanding of what challenges and sacrifices he would have to make in order for him to succeed at this level. He had never lived away from home and recognized that he was going to have to get outside of his comfort zone in order to make this a reality. Fortunately for Mac, his on the field talent had coaches noticing and he received offers from a variety of programs. Something didn’t feel right and he did not feel prepared to accept any of them. At this point Mac decided to explore what a GAP year was and how he could better prepare for the future.
Like all aspiring soccer players in the world, Mac had admired the idea of playing football in the UK. He supported Chelsea, loved watching the Premier League and the skill of the young English players coming through their club systems. He googled “opportunities to attend a residential soccer academy in the UK” and put a lot of research into the options and opportunities that existed. He made the decision that he would use a gap year to “grow up” and “develop a greater understanding of what a professional environment would look like”, all while working towards his ultimate goal of playing at the D1 collegiate level.
During his year abroad, Mac was organized and deliberate about using his time wisely. He immersed himself in soccer and made sure that he was fully committed to giving his best effort. He enjoyed the camaraderie and the constant pressure of having to be “on your game” against top competition. He was pushed well outside his comfort zone on and off the pitch. He initially struggled with international soccer vocabulary, time zone issues, family being back home and even the closing time for stores (late night snacking became more of an issue), he saw great success and leadership growth.
The experience was life-changing for Mac. Getting an opportunity to play at St Georges Park, the home of the English FA and being able to watch professional and international games on an almost weekly basis was mind blowing to this young boy from New Jersey. He was able to see the passion and professionalism on a regular basis by players just like him and who he wanted to become.
Would you like a similar experience as Mac’s? Get in touch today.
Mac continued to grow his relationships with the colleges back home. He created a video highlight reel from the games he played in the UK and kept the coaches up to speed on his progress. His Advisor helped him narrow his focus. It became clear that Iona College in NY was the school that ticked all his boxes. He was able to turn his Easter vacation back home into a visit. That visit became a decision, one that he never regrets.
Now heading into his sophomore year at Iona, Mac looks back at his experience and feels that the year away was crucial for his mental and physical preparation. He contributed consistently during his freshman year and Iona was crowned the MAAC champions. No doubt he will be a big factor on and off the field for his remaining three years at Iona.
Each player’s journey is unique. Mac’s advice to younger athletes is to create your own path forward. It doesn’t always have to be the path expected of you.
Start your journey today with International Development Academy, contact IDA Director of Recruitment, Patrick Robertson, at email@example.com.
Having your son or daughter make the bold step to study and train abroad is an exciting time for parents. By using the 360Player platform, International Development Academy ensures the best and most comprehensive connection between parent and athlete and allows for a seamless communication pathway on all fronts. So what exactly does the 360Player platform do?
There are three main components in the parent account, a comprehensive Calendar, Video Analytics and a Chat Feature that enable direct communication with the player and coaching staff through the app.
We asked Director of Coaching, Peter Bradely, how IDA incorporates the 360 Player App into everyday life, for its parents and athletes.
How does IDA use 360Player to keep parents informed about their athlete’s progress?
“Parents can access the 360Player platform to view training, see performances, and understand a player’s schedule of meetings and match events within the calendar, providing a great roadmap for the approach IDA takes in comprehensive player development. Additionally, parents have the ability to use the video analytics software to keep up to date with all training sessions, match analysis, and view education videos provided by IDA staff, in order to keep the parent informed on the progress of their athlete.”
Is the athlete’s entire day-to-day schedule posted on 360Player?
“Absolutely! The calendar is a comprehensive view of a player’s daily, weekly, and monthly schedule, so you know what their entire schedule looks like. 360player allows for a very detailed breakdown of team training, athletic performance, meetings, workshops, matches, & special events.”
Can parents view their athlete’s games, practices, or training sessions?
“Parents have the ability to view all posted video content from matches and training sessions,while also viewing coaches analysis through video analytics. By viewing training events on the calendar, parents may also keep up with the team training curriculum, to gain an understanding of the training methodology at IDA and how it’s implemented with the team.”
How does IDA incorporate the app in its programs to enhance best player development?
“360player has become an integral part of the development environment for the IDA coaching staff. From planning sessions, to analyzing video, it has become key to providing an individual development plan within our team setting. Being able to use the calendar function, and the detail that it allows, keeps everyone aligned and it also allows for smooth and effortless communication between players, coaches, and parents.”
How does 360Player aid as a recruiting tool for athletes to submit to college coaches?
“The video analytics, feedback from IDA coaches, and additional statistical analysis within the app, make it a great tool for recruitment. Players can share their profile, edit and send videos, provide stats and video analytics on their play to interested college coaches (they’d like to play for.)”
Check out the Parent View Below:
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How a Passion for Soccer Led to Overseas Camps and an Offer to Creighton University
This August, Liam Gilligan will join Creighton University’s soccer team, a Division 1 program, and growing collegiate soccer powerhouse. There, Liam will have the opportunity to face off against some of the best college soccer players in the country. But the path to a D1 soccer scholarship didn’t just happen. It was the result of years of hard work, training, and ultimately a deep passion and love for the sport that goes back years. Liam’s first memories of soccer are hazy, but he does remember there were passing drills.
“I think what sticks out is practice in elementary school, passing the ball around with my friends, and really enjoying that,” he said.
Eventually, that enjoyment grew into something more.
“It was around middle school that I started taking it more seriously, looking for more competitive leagues and teams. I realized that I wanted to keep playing soccer, and keep getting better at it.”
So he did. And because he did, people started to notice, including the International Development Academy (IDA).
“They contacted my mom toward the beginning of summer [of 2020], and really just laid out everything their programs could offer,” Gilligan said. “They knew how important getting a soccer scholarship was to me and my family, and we talked about all the ways they could help make that happen. It was the biggest decision of my life, and my family was really supportive.”
Liam and his family ultimately decided he would join the IDA’s UK Academy in Reading, England, located roughly 40 miles outside of London. “Because I was enrolled in an online learning program for school, I had the flexibility and opportunity to really embrace this chance.”
And that’s exactly what he did. From August to December, in sometimes-beautiful, often-rainy Reading, England, Liam trained, practiced and competed alongside some of the best youth soccer players in the world. Located 40 miles outside of London, Reading is home to a rich culture of soccer fandom, a surprisingly diverse restaurant scene, and unfortunately for Liam, English weather.
“I’m from California, so it was definitely colder than where I’m from,” he said, laughing. “But the program as a whole was really different from anything I had ever experienced in my life. The weather, the cuisine, all of it. I had a lot of Indian food, which was pretty awesome. I had that weekly.”
As a soccer program, Liam says it was everything he could have asked for and more.
“They really made sure to maximize our time there,” he said. “It was a really full schedule, and we trained with some U23s (professional/semi-professional soccer club development programs) from [local club] Hartley Wintney. Their first-team is semi-professional, and they get to compete in some major tournaments, so that was an incredible experience to work with and face off against those guys.”
What’s more, Liam and his teammates were given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in London at a legendary local stadium, Hayes Lane, against hometown favorites Bromley FC. Liam explained that within the community, the stadium is revered for its history of having hosted a number of international friendlies, and its affiliation with Bromley FC, a club with deep community ties dating back more than 140 years.
“The stadium was huge,” he said. “The stands could hold thousands of people. The field was perfect. For a lot of the guys, including me, it was the biggest stadium we’d ever played in. Having that experience to face off against a team like Bromley was unforgettable.”
Through all of this, his coaches and trainers at IDA were there every step of the way, making sure all his games were recorded, finding the right clips to add to his reel for scouts, and most importantly, providing essential technical and strategic insight and guidance.
“They understood what my goal [getting a D1 scholarship] was,” he explained. “Their commitment to pushing us, to getting us to play at our highest level. It’s because they know what it takes to get a scholarship and reach that goal. They were really involved in the whole process, both on and off the field,” he said. “I really couldn’t have done it without them.”
And even though he’s reached his goal of a soccer scholarship, he’s not done yet.
“My ultimate goal is to play professionally, and to represent the Republic of Ireland,” he says, not hesitating even for a moment. “My parents were born there, so it’d mean a lot to me to have the opportunity to represent them and millions of others.”
Something tells us that if he keeps working at it, anything could happen.
To begin your journey with IDA, learn more here.
A letter from one of you.
During the Spring of 2020, I was sitting at home with my family in lockdown because of COVID. This was a really tough time for me personally, as a missing time to develop as a GK, was hitting me hard mentally. During this period, I would often speak to my parents about what was the best move for me next. I knew I had one more year of High School to complete. We agreed that I needed to apply for colleges, which we did, but I also had a burning ambition to play soccer at the highest standard I could. This is where I had my first contact with Coach Essig from St Francis University. I didn’t get any athletic scholarship offer at this time but it was great to see the College and understand what it had to offer.
It was at the same point of speaking to colleges that we connected with the International Development Academy (IDA). As a family, we looked at the prospect of playing in the UK, doing my High School Diploma online, and using the experience to help gain an athletic scholarship at a college in the USA. While at the same time giving myself the best possible opportunity of getting top-class coaching and being watched by clubs in the UK. My dream of being scouted by an English professional football team, felt like it could become a reality! This opportunity seemed too good to be true. It was a financial investment for the family at the time, however, this would plan out to be the best investment we could have ever taken!
Everything IDA offered us; competitive soccer schedule, high-level Goalkeeping training, playing at a very good level in the UK, strength & conditioning training, recording of games, with video analysis support to create video highlight footage, a cultural experience, an opportunity to make new friends with people from all parts of the world & play soccer with them! Has it all happened?
I say this with a huge smile on my face, and I am delighted my time at IDA UK has been more than the above! The experience has given me a whole new family. It made me believe in myself and not undervalue the skills I have. It’s driven me to improve as a footballer, psychologically, physically, tactically, technically every day! It’s given me life skills and allowed me to grow into a man in the world we live in. The coaching staff here in Reading has been incomparable. Coach Rosco and his world-class staff here have driven me to compete, show me a whole different style of football compared to football in America, and have developed my knowledge and understanding of the game.
The biggest compliment I can give IDA is the role they played in helping me gain a scholarship of $35K a year at St Francis University. In the space of 12 months, my offer changed 100%. The confidence the IDA team gave me when I met Coach Essig for a second time, played a key role in the offer I received. I am so excited to join St Francis University in Fall 2021. I also feel honored that Coach Rosco has told me the door is always open for me in the UK to train, play games and develop.
I would strongly recommend this program to anyone! If you’re thinking about taking an opportunity with IDA, my advice is, don’t think! Do! It will be the best decision you ever make.
IDA Uk Goalkeeper
Class of 2021
How A Close Friend Led Marisa Shorrock to Train with AS Roma U19
Marisa Shorrock is currently finishing up her freshman year at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Being at a NESCAC school, Marisa has had an incredible opportunity to really take the title “student-athlete” to the next level. Not only does Marisa play the beautiful game of soccer as a goalkeeper, but she has also dabbled in lacrosse and basketball during her time at Bowdoin.
Through word-of-mouth, Marisa discovered the International Development Academy and their partner Soccer Management Institute (SMI) program in Rome. One of her close friends currently attends IDA Valencia, and suggested that she look into it for her spring freshman year semester. The SMI program aims to develop players and participants tactically, technically and physically for the professional play offered in Italy.
After familiarizing herself with the facilities presented in Rome, Marisa began her training. In late April, Marisa was asked to train with the AS Roma U19 team. She describes her experience training with U19 as “nothing short of amazing”. Marisa told us that this experience helped her develop not only as a player, but also as a person.
“It was really cool to communicate with all of the other players and learn about their cultures and playing experiences,” Marisa stated. She and the players traded stories about living in the United States and Italy and which colleges and universities they attended. This also gave Marisa the chance to practice her Italian, which she is currently taking as a language course at Bowdoin.
Marisa described the level of competition to be at the highest level she has ever experienced. She is super grateful to have been a part of such an amazing and competitive opportunity. Although similar to some of the competitions she was experiencing in Maine, playing in Italy introduced a new type of goalkeeping that helped her improve as a player.
“AS Roma U19 was much more technically focused,” Marisa explained. For the most part, Marisa told us that a lot of the time she relied on her athletic ability to protect the net. However, after spending the last few months in Italy, she believes she has seen much improvement to her technical skills.
Getting a degree is important for Marisa, however, she is leaving the door open to potential future opportunities at the professional level. Many of Marisa’s friends play on semi-professional and professional teams, and have all had wonderful things to say about their experiences.