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One of world’s best clubs finds US partner

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: June 25, 2015

One of the best clubs in the Midwest is teaming up with one of the premier developmental clubs in Europe to create a partnership to benefit the academies on both sides of the Atlantic. St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois and Feyenoord are entering into an agreement that, in theory, should help push player development and coaching education from the U.S. club to new heights. 

“The educational partnership between our organizations is designed to provide coaching education and support to our staff through a variety of modalities including coaching internships in Rotterdam, monthly conference calls as well as yearly visits from Feyenoord staff to monitor progress, provide feedback and further coaching education,” St. Louis Scott Gallagher (SLSG) Illinois Boys’ Director of Coaching Blake Decker told TopDrawerSoccer. “Additionally, the agreement will provide internship opportunities for our very best players to train with the Feyenoord Academy at Varkenoord in Rotterdam. From our perspective, we are now provided a platform to educate our coaches under the direction of a youth academy that is recognized as one of the worlds best in the development of professional and international players.”

In a way, SLSG Illinois is providing another level for both coaches and players. For the right individual, the Feyenoord partnership is a step toward showing the SLSG Illinois family what it is like at a professional stage with the goal on developing players for the first team. 

From the prospective of Feyenoord, it’s a chance to assist in player development for one of the major clubs in the United States as well as expand the outreach of the club. 

“Teaming up with SLSG Illinois will provide us with a trusted partner in the States,” Feyenoord’s Manager of International Relations Gido Vader told TopDrawerSoccer. “In spite of the fact that the Feyenoord Academy is widely considered to be one of the best in the world, our club is not yet a household name in the USA. This partnership will expand our network, but also provide us with a chance to gage the kind of talent present in the up and coming soccer market of the United States.”

The details of the cooperation focus on this idea that the Dutch club will provide that insight to already improve on one of the best clubs in the U.S. 

“We will collaborate with their staff as it relates to our own youth development model and how we can incorporate best practices into our player development structure,” Decker said. “Feyenoord senior staff will travel to our club once per year to do onsite evaluations for the purposes of monitoring progress, providing feedback and making recommendations.”

Some of the players already have experience with the Feyenoord staff with previous trips to train in the Netherlands. 

“We have had three players who have participated in training with Feyenoord Academy teams over the past two years,” Decker said. “One of those players has been there twice, for one week each time. This formalized agreement will increase the frequency and number of these types of opportunities for our players.”

Feyenoord has also learned quite a bit about SLSG Illinois from those recent trips to the Netherlands. 

“First off I want to say that in the past two years we have gotten to know the people at SLSG Illinois and have experienced first hand that they have both a true love for the game and a real desire to provide the players in their system with the best learning experience possible,” Vader said. “Through the partnership with Feyenoord Saint Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois will be able to tap into our knowledge and experience in the field of talent development. The partnership will help SLSG Illinois to improve their talent development methods and educate their coaching staff.”

A partnership with a European club is not a novel concept. There are a number of clubs across the U.S. with some sort of arrangement with a club in Europe. SLSG Illinois’ collaborated effort with Feyenoord is unique for a number of a reasons. 

“As an organization, we had been seeking out an international partnership for over five years; however, with every other organization we worked with prior to Feyenoord, at some stage of the negotiation, the discussion turned toward camps and t-shirts, which was not what we were looking for in an international partner,” Decker said. “Our priorities were finding a club who was committed to a long-term process, had a track record of development from within and was willing to provide our coaches and players with opportunities to further their development.”

The bond between SLSG Illinois and Feyenoord grew recently with a trip to the Netherlands with two of the club’s teams. It’s also when Decker and the SLSG Illinois staff realized that this would be the perfect club for a partnership. 

“Our relationship with Feyenoord developed over the last two years and started with us taking our U13 and U14 teams to Rotterdam for nine days in the spring of 2014,” Decker said. “After our first visit to Holland, we knew that we had four the partner for which we had been looking and upon returning to the United State started negotiations with Feyenoord for a partnership that was based on substance, mainly coaching education and development opportunities for our players.”

The relationship was recently formalized and now the first stages of the cooperative effort are starting to take place. 

“We returned for a second time this past spring with our teams and worked out the final details of the educational partnership which will take effect this summer when Feyenoord Staff will visit SLSG Illinois to conduct coaching education sessions for our staff, business development seminars for our management team and training sessions for selected players in our U11-U14 age groups,” Decker said.

With one of the best developmental clubs in the world now entering a partnership with one of the best clubs in the Midwest, there is plenty of reason to be bullish about the future of SLSG Illinois. 

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