In Episode 34 I first revealed our partnership with Global Image Sports and the Stoke City Potter. I interviewed Andy Foxall from the Stoke City Academy after we spent a few days together running the Maryland ID Camp together. Then in Episode 40, I talked about taking my kids to Atlanta for the National Soccer Camp. In this episode, number 76, we complete our journey through the system with an international youth soccer tour in the UK. This is the last episode in the series. In it, I will reveal the last piece of the puzzle after having gone through the entire system with both of my kids. I will take you inside both the Boy's international youth soccer tour experience and the Girl's international youth soccer tour experience.Have you ever wondered what happens after you come through one of our ID camps?. A Recap of the International Youth Soccer Tour ExperienceBecause you may be just joining the show in this episode, I'll give you the real quick highlights so you know the background. In 2017, I started talks with Global Image Sports. These guys are like brokers between US clubs and International Clubs. Their mission is to identify kids in the US who would like an opportunity to compete nationally, and/or ultimately train with world-class academy coaches overseas. They have partnerships with many top teams in Europe. They partner with Clubs like mine, and with our help, start the process of identifying talented players who would like to experience soccer around the world. I don't know exactly why I received the first call I did, but our Club has been around for 31+ years. At some point in our history, I'm told we had relationships with DC United and with Washington Spirit & ended up on somebodies list. Apparently, it's a good list to be on because it lead to our becoming the only partner club in the state of Maryland. In December of that year, I flew down to Atlanta, met with Stoke City executives - where I first met Gareth Jennings (their Academy Director at the time) and Paul Lakin (the Stoke City COO). We closed our deal and we were off to the races. Gareth hosted some in-person coach's training with Club leaders/coaches from Georgia, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Texas while we were there so we got to experience first-hand what our kids would be getting from Stoke coaches. In June and July of 2018, we ran an ID camp (see Episode 34) and a development camp. Stoke City Community Trust coach, Daniel Johnson even marched with us in our annual parade. It was a positive year all around, though for Club administrators, I have to admit that we lost money in year one putting this together. Our marketing was still young and we were not well known in the international youth soccer camp business. The ID camp cost well under $200. For that money, we gave players either 3 or 4 days of training with world-class coaches we flew over from the UK and a t-shirt. The coaching was superb and if players had nothing more than this experience, I think it was money well spent. The top 20% of the players at ID camp were invited to compete in the GIS National training camp at the Darlington School in Rome, GA. These camps lasted for a few days each, cost $635 per player, and came with two high-quality training kits, a ball, room and board, and several days of world-class coaching. Entire teams of Academy coaches flew over for this event and for the first time, we started seeing the confluence of the many training Academies like Stoke City, West Ham, and the Wolverhampton Wolves. In my case, both my son and daughter qualified - along with one other player from my High School aged team, a handful of other kids from other clubs who came to our Maryland camp for the experience. Check out the video recap I posted in the show notes from Atlanta. Everyone had a great time. As a coach, I was invited to a coach's training symposium while I was there and got some more excellent in-person coaching instruction from Gareth Jennings for the second time.
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