Michiel's Memo

A week before only the essential services were allowed to continue their great work the responsible federations, teams and athletes in the sportsworld already postponed their activities until further notice. It was back then that we started our online alternative program at Christchurch United FC for all our members. Some of those activities are very visible, others are still unaware of some. In this message I want to give everyone an update about the program we have been running and will be continuing during the time we are taking precautions against the virus and play our part in protecting as many people as possible.
We have been doing a lot of different things in the last couple of weeks: fun challenges, different moves, fun quizzes, workshops, video analysis, individual conversations and much more!
For our youngest players (U4-U8) we have been putting on a lot of football challenges. In order to access those challenges it is important to get to our Facebook page and/or Instagram account. The past few weeks we have managed to create a real library of different exercises and challenges that all our players can train in order to work on their technical ability. These times of social distancing is a great opportunity to work on isolated skills and increase the focus to technical individual ball control. Once back on the field we are very interested to see what players will show that increased ability! It is a great thing that those challenges are accessible for our whole academy so everyone in our care can take advantage.
Just before all of New Zealand started to stay at home we already had our first workshop with our young enthusiastic players of the U9-U12. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I provide different insights about our concepts that we usually work on during trainings. The workshops with the U9-U12 are very nice to do since all the players contribute massively! I am very happy all the players that attend are so keen on learning more and more about the game. On some Tuesdays and Thursdays we don’t have a workshop because we have different experts through study or experience who help our players in all age categories develop by sharing their expertise. I’ll talk about that later.
Besides the special workshops we also have access to Danil Kornilov his knowledge about the laws of the game and the latest changes in the rulebook. Danil leads workshops in the weekend in order to help all our players to understand the rules of the game better so we can enjoy the game even more.
On top of this all the whole academy also takes advantage of another online tool a top coach in spain and our coaching staff have been providing: a tactical improvement of all players will be the result of this amazing application that is containing more content daily. Players from Christchurch United who want to take full advantage of this are able to sign up and learn as much as possible.
Then we move to our older age groups. For our players who play for the U13 and older we still have the app which allows us to be in close contact with our players on a daily basis. Besides that Blaine McKenna, Joe Cole and Jude Fitzpatrick have been busy doing individual development conversations with each individual player to make sure that every player got the tools they need to improve themselves in these times. Lew Gordon is working to get this done for the younger age groups as well.
The individual contact gives us direction to our general workshops as well. Blaine McKenna shares his knowledge about the mental skills that will help the players to play the game better in the future while I focus on the tactical side with weekly video analysis on different levels: team, line and position. Individually the players perform their running program in order to stay fit so when we get back to the field we will be ready to perform right away.
One of the most valuable parts of our online program I believe are all our valued guests we have invited (and will invite) to share their knowledge with our players. The last period of time we have had the honour of listening to the expertise of Fergus Connoly who helped our players to increase their recovery process, Thijs Matla who gave us insight in PSV, a top European Academy and Jack van Luijken who shared his experience as a young ambitious kiwi who is working his way into professional football through the European pathway at the moment.
With a couple of great guests coming up I am sure we will be able to take lessons and improve our ways to develop ourselves even further right away and of course when we will be back on the fields. To all our guests I am grateful for all your help in these times, I highly appreciate all your efforts to take our players to a higher level.
Besides all we offer for our players we also use this time to invest in our coaching staff. Coach education is a priority and with two topics every week we are increasing our expertise when it comes to our own methodology with me and the world of mental coaching. Blaine McKenna is doing a great job there and together with Joe Cole we are learning a lot. Joe leads our coaches through the wonderful world of sport science and what we can apply in our situations.
The next couple of weeks we will still be in this situation that we will continue all our online work in order to make sure that all players at Christchurch United are still able to work on their development in our beloved sports. From my position I wish all the players a lot of success in performing all the challenges and routines so when we are actually meeting again we will be able to step in from a higher level than before.
Stay Safe.
Michiel Buursma