Recently, we had the pleasure to host Kirk Hilton of Go Pro Football Academy of Dubai. Kirk has seen all levels of talent across the globe. As a player, he spent 4 years with Manchester United and 2 years with Blackpool. Since his playing days, he has founded a academy in Dubai that specializes in training players year round to achieve the highest level possible. He was here for a week and these are his thoughts on Shattuck-St Mary’s.
Recently I embarked on a trip to Minnesota to visit Shattuck St Mary’s School and their Soccer Centre of Excellence. Taking two of my academy players for trial, I anticipated a good standard and imagined high school students to be in great physical condition, but possibly behind technically and tactically compared to professional clubs in the UK.
As we arrived on campus I was pleasantly surprised by the environment these students were living in. Every single detail had been taken care of, it was very clear that each individual could concentrate fully on the soccer programme with no distractions. As I was shown into the dome where all soccer sessions take place I could see this was a centre of excellence where athlete’s dreams do come true. In front of me was an indoor 3G turf pitch which could only be described as ‘out of this world’.
As I watched the first session being led by Academy Director Tim Carter I was amazed by the standard of football in front of me. The passing, movement, energy and enthusiasm would be nothing dissimilar to a professional club in England’s top flight. Each player was technically sound with both feet and they also knew their job role to the smallest detail. As I watched the different sessions from U16’s-U18’s boys/girls you could see the academy structure was unique. Each player was being coached at an elite level and you could see this in their performances on the training field.
I found myself asking many questions to both coaches and students throughout the week and was inspired by the determination to succeed and the opportunities offered to some of the students. Some of which had already been on trial at the German Bundesliga club SV Werder Bremen.
I was also impressed with the standard of girls’ soccer; I have never seen such awareness and technical skill on the pitch from girls at that age. I decided to join in a 5 aside game to encounter the speed close up. As I was put through my paces, I realized each individual knew their job role and was disciplined in every area of the field. This left a huge impression on me.
As I was coming to the end of this amazing insight I discovered how much the students were determined to impress the coaches and worked towards the standard set within an academy structure. Each player realised they had a fantastic opportunity to eat sleep and play football until they achieved their goal. It was truly an enriching experience for me and my academy players. I would describe Shattuck St Mary’s Soccer Centre of Excellence as a sleeping giant ready to be woken.
Go Pro Football Academy
We recently had 4 of our U18 academy players train in Germany over Spring break. Mike Bajza, Geoff Dee, Andrew Moullin, and Luke Stauffer all had the chance to train with German team Werder Bremen for a week. The got to experience the highest level and experience a foreign culture. Top Drawer Soccer wrote a piece on their experience there.