My Trip To SpainDate: May, 2010 Posted by: Luis Gomez, Director of Coaching and Technical Development
From the time I decided to participate in U.S. Soccer's Coaching educational trip to Spain I knew it was going to be a lifetime experience. As part of a group of 44 U.S. coaches, we spent one week learning about player development from various coaches, teams and administrators. It was certainly a packed agenda full of lectures, discussions and observation of various professional and youth academy training sessions. It was an opportunity to exchange ideas with U.S. Soccer trainers and coaches from around the country. It was also a great networking and educational experience from which I was quickly able to take lessons learned and apply them to my personal coaching philosophy.
As we arrived from the Barajas Airport to the Ciudad del Futbol hotel, with unique and private access to the Spanish Football Federation training grounds and facilities, I immediately realized my expectations would be met. But that was just the beginning. Throughout our stay, we also got access to Real Madrid, Athetico Madrid and Getafe training grounds and professional staffs, attended a Real Madrid La Liga game, analyzed professional training sessions and visited some of the most well-known stadiums and landmarks in the city, including the stadium of Santiago Bernabeu.
Upon my return and after some time to reflect, I realized that although U.S. soccer has come a long way in recent years, we have a long way to go to meet the same standards of Spanish soccer. However, in the U.S. we have a big challenge that soccer is not ingrained into the culture as it is in many countries. We have a lot of choices and diversity of peoples and blend of styles, which makes us so unique. The U.S. will have to find its own style and methodologies, and I think learning best practices from some of the best soccer countries in the world is the right way to go. I hope U.S. Soccer Federation continues this program, and I look forward to the next trip.