The Chelsea Soccer School: Hot fun in the summertime*
by rick olivares
The football pitch at Tribeca in Alabang isn’t the well-manicured ones the three English lads are used to. But it’s not too bad either.
“It’s a start,” said Andy Ottley whose smile was infectious despite the oppressive heat.
“It’s at three degrees back home (in England) so I am not complaining,” he added.
Along with Kane Cowburn and Russell Baryard, the three representatives from Chelsea FC’s International Development Foundation are in Manila to conduct a three-day camp for young footballers. The camp is held at the Tribeca where 60 young boys are divided into morning and afternoon sessions.
It’s a “reunion” of sorts for Ottley and James and Phil Younghusband who were all youth players at Chelsea years ago. Ottley eventually moved to Fulham where he met Neil Etheridge who himself also got a start with Chelsea’s Youth Academy. “I remember the brothers scoring goals against us and I’d go, ‘Ah, they got us again.’”
The three are in the Philippines to spot talent for the London club but to help develop the grassroots structure in the Philippines. If some of these talents blossom into top local players who also go on to play for the national team then they could possibly bear some looking into.
Now on its second year in operation in the Philippines as a partnership with the Younghusband Football Academy and the Loyola Meralco Sparks Youth Academy, the Chelsea Soccer School Philippines is the sixth soccer school opened outside the famed club’s London headquarters. “We’re here to not only train kids but also the coaches,” explained Ottley. “We’ll be back to oversee their continuous development. It’s not a one-off.”
Assisting in the camp are some of the Younghusband’s colleagues with Loyola – goalkeepers Ref Cuaresma and Junior De Murga and assistant coaches Gil Talavera and Dang Cecilio – who all do some teaching as well. And the participants all plunge into every activity and every drill with a lot of gusto.
“It’s good to know that the football scene in the Philippines is growing because that will impact the youth,” added Baryard. “They have something to aspire for. They see the good senior footballers playing and that inspires them.”
The three Chelsea coaches took in the two matches of the Philippine Men’s Football National Team in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers the past week. “It was fun,” laughed Cowburn.
“We saw a bit of everything!” added Ottley. “We saw a lot of goals! We saw the power go out, the rain come crashing down, a flooded pitch, a fantastic atmosphere, ecstatic fans, lots. At one point, we all said, ‘We’ve seen everything except a red card.’ And then Phil goes on to get one…”
In the three-day camp, the three stress that football has to be fun. “If it’s fun, you will have no problem teaching,” underscored Cowburn. “And it’s been an eventful, fun, and learning camp so far.”
From the looks of it, it also works the other way around because the three Englishmen are learning and loving Philippine culture as well.
* "Hot fun in the summertime" is a song from Sly & the Family Stone. I love that song.
Additional reading: Turkmenistan floors Loyola
|Ref Cuaresma developed an English accent during the three-day camp.|
|With Andy Ottley, Kane Cowburn, and Russell Baryard.|