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Thompson forges link with top amateur team in Spain

Kenny Thompson believes BAA Wanderers' link-up with top Spanish feeder club UECornella will provide a “realistic bridge” between the amateur and professional game for local players.

The non-financial agreement will enable BAA to send teams and players to UECornella to further their football education and gaining first hand knowledge of their coaching techniques.

While other football bodies and teams in Bermuda have opted to forge partnerships with professional sides, Thompson reckons BAA's relationship with UECornella is a more suitable stepping stone.

“In the past BAA have been in discussions with professional clubs regarding collaborations and I do have links with professionals clubs,” said Thompson, BAA's football director.

“It's good to have those links but this really felt like the right thing to do. It's a step towards professional football and not a jump straight from the amateur level to the professional level.

“I feel this club is a realistic bridge from amateur football to professional football and we're both committed to it long-term. They're an amateur club with a professional mindset but also very family orientated, so it's a very comfortable environment.”

Thompson, one of the Island's most respected coaches, has long been an advocate of exposing young Bermuda players to different football cultures in an effort to broaden their skills and well as their minds.

It was Thompson who first alerted Ipswich to Reggie Lambe's potential, having organised extensive trips to Holland for the midfielder so he could to experience the technical and physical demands of European football.

While Netherlands, Germany and the UK have been Thompson's favoured destinations to further the football education of young players under his tutelage, last summer he decided to visit Spain in pursuit of “something different”.

It was during that trip he was made aware of the talent developing expertise of UECornella, whose most well known home-grown talent, Jordi Alba, made his second appearance for Spain against England earlier this month.

“This year we took the BAA teams to Europe for the first time, three groups, one of those was the Under-16s who I have taken to Europe maybe five times (when they played for the Academy),” said Thompson, who said UECornella had expressed an interest in two of BAA's youth team players.

“For those players, who have already been to Holland and Germany, we looked for something a bit different so we travelled to Spain.

“One of my connections advised us to visit UECornella so we started playing and training with their under-16 teams. I was very impressed with what I saw and what I heard from our conversations down there.

“It's a great opportunity for us to be involved with them because we can take teams over there and give our players exposure against quality players in their age groups as well as bring their coaches to Bermuda.”

Thompson plans to take two BAA teams to UECornella's new training base, opposite Espanyol's stadium, for another trip in April. In the future he envisages some of BAA's more promising players remaining in Catalonia for extended periods, playing, training and even schooling in Catalonia, where the club is based.

"In the very near future they will be building a dormitory on the complex of their new training facility which will be great for the young boys," he said.

“I think this agreement will be more beneficial for our younger players.

“If you can get this exposure at nine or ten it will mean a little bit more than 16 or 17.

“But it's important to tie down the schooling situation for any players who end up going to UECornella for an extended period of time. There's a nearby primary school and high school so obviously players will need to speak Spanish, which isn't a bad thing.

“However, it's important to find out what the high school diploma means out of Spain; it's important to make sure the player who does a long-term exposure isn't missing out on anything academically.”

BAA, whose senior team play in the First Division, are sponsored by Lindo's, have more than 250 youngsters in their programme.

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Published November 29, 2011 at 1:00 am (Updated November 29, 2011 at 8:08 am)

Thompson forges link with top amateur team in Spain

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