Player Development Project is thrilled to be a part of the NextGen Series & NextGen Talks in Amsterdam from May 14-16. Day one began with the NextGen Talks & concluded with some excellent football from some of the world’s top U19 talent.


The NextGen event kicked off with a fantastic morning of discussion at the inaugural NextGen Talks, hosted by Player Development Project’s, James Vaughan. James facilitated a round table discussion with Tottenham Hotspur Academy Manager, John McDermott, Chelsea FC Scout & Talent ID veteran, Piet de Visser & Ruben Jongkind, one of the key instigators in ‘Plan Cruyff’ which was implemented as part of a restructure of the Ajax Academy.


Tottenham Hotspur Academy Manager John McDermott has been instrumental in the recent resurgence of British players emerging through the Spurs academy. He gave insight into the principles of play, environment and coaching approaches that are shaping the next generation of players at Tottenham Hotspur. John discussed the importance of astute observation, saying the best ‘player developers’ he’s worked with are able to understand what each player needs in each moment and deliver development-appropriate content. John suggested that some knowledgeable coaches deliver detail that is too advanced for developing players, not recognizing that key foundations have to be in place. John sighted a general overemphasis on tactical detail at ages when players would benefit from more time with the ball rolling.



From left to right: Ruben Jongkind, James Vaughan, John McDermott, Piet de Visser.


Ruben talked about his time working with Johan Cruyff and the implementation of ‘Plan Cruyff’ between 2011 – 2013. Ruben was quick to highlight that much of the philosophy discussed came from Johan. Ruben started by highlighted Johan’s concerns about the wider environments surrounding players, coaches and clubs. Specifically what he called the growing influence of economics in the game. Enjoyment and love of the game must come first and Johan recognized that playing for money created a vicious cycle that could harm players and clubs. Ruben also talked about the return to street football at Ajax. With mixed age groups taking to the car park to play a game with very different constraints. Balance became essential and players learnt to compete against older and younger opponents. One of the key focuses of Piet’s input was the importance and value of street football in player development. This is something he now aims to replicate in his academies in Africa & South America.


FCB v Ajax

FC Barcelona U19 vs. Ajax U19 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, May 14, 2016. Photo: Dave Wright


Day one of the NextGen Series Tournament provided us with some extremely entertaining football and a great look at some of the best U19 talent from around the world. Matches run for 50 minutes in quick succession at the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium with fans, scouts and former players including the great Denis Bergkamp in to watch the next generation of stars. With top European clubs and teams made up of African & South American academy talent, the styles on show were very impressive. ASA United upset Galatasaray in a 1-0 vicotry where they demonstrated their flair with some clever passing and bright combination play. Tottenham Hotspur showed their impressive talent with a 1-0 win over PSV. PSV looked quite direct in their approach whereas Tottenham generally looked to play out and their combinations and creativity in the final third were very aesthetically pleasing.

We look forward to day two of the event today with some great match ups ahead before the knockout stages on Monday.

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