Published: February 21, 2011
FONTANA, Calif – The U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program closed its girls’ training camp Saturday afternoon in a much shorter session than expected, after inclement weather caused Veterans Park Soccer Complex in Pomona, California, to be unsuitable for play. It left organizers scrambling for a replacement site, eventually settling for Ralph M. Lewis Sports Complex in Fontana, California.
“This morning was a bit disappointing, not being able to get out there, and then coming here and not being able to complete the day,” U.S. Youth Soccer Director of Coaching John Carter said. “But we had Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and got everything done in those three days. Today was just really about playing.”
Unlike most ODP events, this training camp was quite unique as it brought players between the 1994 through 1996 age groups from all four U.S. Youth Soccer regions, and jumbled them into teams.
ODP players compete on Sunday.
“The goal was to bring them together, and try to give them some idea on how to interpret the game,” Carter said. “We mix them up so they could learn how to play with different players.”
The camp focused on two areas of functional training: positional play, and line of play.
The girls were divided by position to learn how to best capitalize their skills and further advance their understanding.
Center backs were trained on how to better defend in front of the box, and how to integrate the goalkeeper further without jeopardizing formation. Wide and outside backs received practice on how to read the field, learn when to move forward, and integrate themselves into the attack while using the width of the field.
Target forwards were taught how attack and play, with and off each other, in order to break down defenses in front of them.
As for lines of play, girls were shown things like how to approach a three-front attack compare to a two-front attack. What the roles of strikers are when playing with one player up top. And midfielders got a taste of playing with multiple numbers, and how it changes when playing wide, or pinched in.
“We get deep into their roles, it’s not just about telling them how to do it, but putting them into the environment and letting them solve those problems,” Carter said. “It’s about realizing how the player can interpret the game themselves to become a better player.”
This camp is giving these girls something that they cannot get at home, according to Carter. By putting them in an environment that they are not comfortable in, taking away the teammates they have been playing with for years, the coaches they know well, and the system they are used to, these players learn to adjust and adapt to what the game tells them to do.
So even thought the day was cut short due to the unforeseen California showers, the girls were all smiles, thanking the staff for their help, and having a better comprehension of what it takes to be a better well-rounded player.
“I think it’s a wonderful experience for these girls, and they had a wonderful time,” Carter said.
U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Training Camp Rosters (Courtesy of U.S. Youth Soccer):
Click here to see the Region I and Region II Rosters
Click here to see the Region III and Region IV Rosters