For the players it is all about age appropriate physical, technical and mental development, based on a long term development plan. We have together with Next Generation Football at Valencia CF in Spain, developed the Bermuda Long Term Player Development Plan, based on modern periodization system which takes into consideration the correct physical, mental and emotional development of the human being, obviously with a focus on football. However, the same periodization structure applies to any sport or specilized task like playing an instrument, learning a language, etc.
Secondly, the right environment is very important for player development. This applies to the physical infrastructure, tools, training structures, scheduling, and the actual delivery of the curriculum by the properly licensed coaches. In order to reach the level required to meet the international requirements, this is an area of focus for Bermuda and the ABC Football Foundation. A lot more needs to be done in this area, not just investments in infrastructure, but probably more important, to create full time paid professions around coaching, administration and support who have the time and understanding what it takes. Think of teachers in our schools and what they have to master today to teach our children the modern curriculum with all the information and tools available.
The third element of proper player development is the competitive aspect and exposure. No team sport can be fully taught or developed unless the pressure and all aspects of the competitive challenge as a team is introduced. However, it is important that the format of the competitive element is introduced at the right time, in the right format, the expectations are correct, and that the community respect that it takes until a player is at least 20 to 23 years old before they are fully developed players. In a small island nation like Bermuda, this task takes on so many more dimensions compared to a large society, dimensions that create significant barriers for the sports and its players. ABC Football Foundation is now putting a lot of effort and resources into addressing this issue and finding solutions that will benefit all footballers in Bermuda.
SUPPORTING FC BASCOME BERMUDA
& THE USL
Football matters to almost all Bermudians. It is the largest youth sport, it is the national sport, not a surprise given our British influences, and it has been the professional career path for both football players and college bound player/student athletes. Bermudians follow the major international leagues like religion. However, size is a problem. Being a small community of 64,000 people rather isolated in the Northern Atlantic, makes it difficult for both players and clubs to reach their full potential. This is why we support FC Bascome Bermuda: It gives our players a path to reach competitive levels not attainable locally, and it provides them with exposure, allowing them to compete for a place at the “professional opportunity table”. Further, as only 0.5% of the players who enter academies and feeder clubs to the large professional franchises make it to the top, we must provide them with life skills and opportunities beyond the pitch. USL 2 is the documented best place in North America to create the requirements and exposure that our players need. Further, the league is played off-season for Bermuda, thereby not colliding with our local leagues, nor requiring any player to leave their existing club or programs. USL 2 will add another 14 to 17 games and over a three months period, extending the season and the training period closer to the large footballing nations league structures.
By taking this step we will also strive to institutionalize this bridge between Bermuda and North America and beyond, making this path part of the opportunity sets that young Bermuda players will embrace as a means of reaching their dreams, while the recruiters/scouts and school, and other professional development organizations, will better start to understand the talent and determination of our Bermuda players and to make Bermuda part of their catchment area and to visit for tournaments, practice sessions off-season, etc.