Clubs and Academies

Insights from tops clubs and academies, focussing on how they develop players and the environments they create.

Dane Coles is arguably one of the world’s best and most dynamic rugby players. In the combative position of hooker, Coles regularly goes head to head with front rowers around the world in both Super Rugby and International Rugby and is a Rugby World Cup Winner. In this article, PDP Editor, Dave Wright spoke to Dane about his player development journey, not specialising too young, the types of coaches he responds to and the value of mental preparation in performance. Dane Coles grew up in a…

Eusebio Sacristan had a playing career at Barcelona alongside a golden generation and under the guidance of Johan Cruyff. He now manages Real Sociedad in La Liga, a big challenge but one he is embracing and enjoying. With the help of translator, Brooke Duder, Player Development Project caught up with Eusebio to discuss his journey as a young player and now top flight manager.

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, we host Director of Coach Education at the Royal Belgian FA, Kris Van Der Haegen for an energetic and in depth conversation on the Belgian model of player and coach development. In this discussion, PDP Co-founder, Dave Wright & PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright co-host Kris for a wide ranging conversation on how the Belgian model was dramatically changed following the Euro 2000 tournament. Kris was a key driver of this change, addressing game formats, shifting coaches to a player-centric…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Coaching Advisor James Coutts is joined by Bristol City FC U18 Lead Coach, Trevor Challis. In this discussion Trevor shares some invaluable stories from his playing days and in particular the late great Ray Wilkins that has helped shape how Trevor coaches now. This is great discussion around guiding players through their developmental journey and ensuring that honesty is at the forefront of what coaches do. Trevor and James discuss the importance of role models and leadership as a key…

The physical elements of youth development are complicated by growth, maturation and a number of variables. In this PDP Webinar replay, Dan Wright hosts Nottingham Forest FC Coaches, Tom Mallinson and Lewis Bramley for an in depth discussion on integrating conditioning and managing load with youth players. Tom is a Professional Development Phase coach working primarily with the U18 players. Lewis is the Lead U9-16 Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Academy. Dan hosts a discussion that dives into a number of issues that challenge…

The Feyenoord Academy, or Varkenoord as it is known in Holland as one of the premier developmental environments in the country. With famed graduates such as Robin Van Persie, Royston Drenthe, Jordie Clasie & Leroy Fer (to name a few) the club has won the Rinus Michels Award for best academy in the country multiple times.   Player Development Project was interested to know more about just what goes on at Feyenoord so we caught up with foundation phase coach and brain behaviour and learning…

The ‘Cupfinalseminaret’ in Norway provided PDP Editor, Dave Wright with an opportunity to gather the opinions of some leading Scandinavian figures. In this fascinating round table discussion on the women’s game, we talk leadership, psychology and coach/player development with Even Pellerud, Katrine Pedersen and Solveig Gulbrandsen.   In November Player Development Project was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Norwegian Cup Final Seminar in Oslo. It was a destination for coaches from all around Scandinavia to listen to some of the best in…

Steven Reid could be described as something of a journeyman in English football. However, with a career that now spans 17 years at the top level, 23 full international caps for the Republic of Ireland including the 2002 World Cup, Steven’s achievements are significant. With well over 200 appearances at English Premier League level, Steven is an example of a different generation of professional footballer. He came through the English system at a time when things were perhaps simpler, less professional and more about playing football…

Wesley Sneijder has gone from playing street football in the Netherlands to becoming a Champion’s League-winning superstar. We caught up with Wesley to discuss his development, how he has transitioned between football cultures on his journey, and what he believes best enables creativity to flourish. Wesley Sneijder has played for some of the biggest clubs and in some of the biggest games of the last 10 years including FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League finals. A graduate of the famed Ajax Academy in Holland, Sneijder broke…

In our latest Player Development Project webinar replay, we focus on coaching younger players. PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright is joined by two top academy coaches, Nathan Thomas and Nathan Philip. Nathan Thomas is currently the Lead Foundation Phase Coach at MK Dons and has experience coaching at Middlesborough, Arsenal and Brentford – he also holds the FA Advanced Youth Award. Nathan Philip holds both the UEFA A Licence and Advanced Youth Award, has worked across these age groups in both coaching and recruitment roles…

In this PDP webinar replay, we host Ben Bartlett, a truly world-class coach developer who currently works as Fulham FC Head of Coaching and spent over a decade at The FA as a National Youth Coach Developer. Ben is an expert in the area of session design, specifically a constraints led approach – a methodology which ensures your players use information from within the game to develop. Ben is hosted by PDP Co-founder Dave Wright and PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright. Both Dave & Dan…

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, the PDP team host top academy coaches, Mark Lyons and Tom Mallinson for an in depth discussion on academy football in England. Mark Lyons is the Pre-Academy Co-ordinator & Lead Coach at Leicester City FC and Tom Mallinson is a Professional Development Phase Coach at Nottingham Forest FC. Experienced Academy Coaches, Dan Wright and Dave Wright will host Tom and Mark for a round table discussion on professional academy football in the UK. All four of our expert panel met…

Paul McGuinness was immersed in the world of Manchester United as a player and coach for 28 years. Paul learnt his craft from his father Wilf, a Manchester United Manager and was mentored by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Matt Busby, Tony Whelan and more. PDP Editor Dave Wright sits down with Paul to discuss his personal journey, sharing incredible stories of the culture and family values of the club and how he and his colleagues instilled them in the academy. Paul also…

Johan Cruyff changed the way football is played forever with Total Football and had a huge impact as a player and coach at Ajax and Barcelona. We’re excited to have founder of TOVO Academy, Todd Beane joining us to discuss the Cruyff Football philosophy and player development. In this Live Webinar Replay, PDP Editor, Dave Wright & PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan host Todd as they discuss Cruyff philosophy and all things player development. Topics covered in this Masterclass are: Total Football Cruyff Football Philosophy…

PDP Co-Founder and psychology researcher, James Vaughan, explores creativity in footballers with a focus on the coach’s perspective. What does it mean to foster creativity in players? How can we better understand the process of encouraging creative problem solving on the field? Vaughan offers practical insights and solutions to an often abstract topic. Creativity is often described as the use of imagination to invent something. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson refines this idea by explaining creativity as ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’. The…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor, Dave Wright is joined by Academy Manager of Birmingham City FC, Kristjaan Speakman for an in depth and wide ranging conversation. Kristjaan has been at the club for well over a decade and has also coached at Derby County under the guidance of Terry Westley. Now one of England’s most highly regarded Academy Managers, Kristjaan sits down with Dave to discuss leadership, coaching and coach development, shares insights into the journey of Demarai Gray & recent first team debutant,…

Birmingham City FC are a founding partner club of PDP and in May 2019, they put on an event called the Learning Tribes Conference 2019. In this round table video discussion, Dave Wright & Dan Wright review the event with three of the team from Birmingham City FC. BCFC Lead Youth Development Phase Coach, Mike Dodds was tasked with putting on an event for coaches by the team at BCFC Academy. Inspired by Co-Founder of the Magic Academy and top rugby coach, Russell Earnshaw, Mike…

Dan Robinson is the Academy Manager at Burton Albion FC in England and a former Assistant Coach & Goalkeeper Coach with the New Zealand Women’s team. In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor Dave Wright sits down with Dan to discuss his coaching journey and some of the challenges of taking on a major role at a small club. Dan discusses some of the lessons he’s learned in leadership, the player development philosophy at Burton Albion, his experience on the world stage with international women’s teams…