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Imitating top players is not always beneficial, say top college coaches

Leonardo Mouwen, skills coach for Manchester City, believes there’s an exceptional amount of talent in Bermuda but wants to see them stop trying to imitate the players they see on television.

Mouwen was one of seven college and academy coaches, from the UK, US and Canada, who spent this week running the rule over local players aged between 11 and 21, as part of the Bermuda Brazilian Football School’s second annual College Festival.

Held at the National Sports Centre, the aim of the event was to provide pathways into further education for local players and make college scouts aware of the Island’s talent.

Mouwen has been impressed with the talent on show but believes the players need to understand when and where to employ the tricks they have learned from watching English Premier League’s stars such as Nani and Sergio Aguero.

“There is fantastic talent here, the key will be to get them out of trying to imitate what they see on the television and use their own skill and decision making to become players,” said Mouwen, who hails from the Netherlands.

“Once they can make better decisions in crucial times of the game then the sky is the limit for a lot of them.”

Phil Whedden, of Syracuse University, said it was important Bermuda’s budding players experienced different styles of coaching.

He also echoed Mouwen’s sentiments regarding the Island’s young players trying too hard to emulate their idols.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to come to another country and help the children here to get better at the game and to show them a new style of coaching,” said Whedden.

“It’s good to expose them to a new system of playing and to show them that there are opportunities out in the world for them to take this and make it into a job.

“Not everyone will do that, but this could be an avenue to schools and other things that could benefit them.

“There are some exceptional players here, a lot of promise here, the one thing that needs to improve is there technical awareness and when to do the tricks and stuff they see on TV.

“If they can use their talent and hone it into key areas of the pitch then they can become some very good footballers.”

The festival saw nearly 100 pre-selected players from Bermuda’s middle and senior schools given first-hand information on topics ranging from preparing for college admissions, SAT exam requirements and applying for athletic scholarships.

BBFS executive director Cal Blankendal is pleased with how the week has gone, noting that at least two players have been tipped to be good enough to make the grade overseas.

“The student athletes have responded with much enthusiasm and have performed admirably both on and off the pitch,” said Blankendal. “The coaches have identified at least two talented players and we are looking to see if a semi-pro opportunity is possible without affecting their college scholarship eligibility during the summer.

“This has been a very rewarding experience for all involved including the BBFS staff.

“Having access to some of the best coaches engaged in collegiate and youth development is important to the tactical and technical advancement of BBFS.

“The support provided by HSBC both financially and logistically has been excellent and we appreciate their sponsorship of the entire programme.”

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Published February 18, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 18, 2012 at 6:45 am)

Imitating top players is not always beneficial, say top college coaches

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