Soccer school opens in Raleigh
By Joedy McCreary
RALEIGH ó Michael Beale led the drill, showing several jukes to a preteen player while demonstrating the value of strong footwork in soccer.
With that bit of instruction, the Chelsea academy coach helped his Premier League program take a first step toward broadening its stateside exposure.
London-based Chelsea opened one of its first soccer schools Thursday, a four-day event that came shortly after the club announced a partnership with Raleighís Capital Area Soccer League. CASL is an organization of roughly 800 teams that involves nearly 9,000 boys and girls between the ages of 4-19.
Itís the start of what Chelsea officials hope will become a network of affiliations to spur American interest in the sport and expand their reach across the nation.
iThe club wanted to become a global brand partly, but most importantly (it wanted) to get involved with a very good soccer program … and try to develop those kind of links with a number of different clubs,î fellow Chelsea academy coach Paul Clement said. iThe most important thing is, weíre a big club, weíve done very well in Europe, but itís a huge opportunity to give something back.î
Chelseaís plan includes a series of coaching clinics, exchange programs and soccer schools much like the one that took place at a soccer complex in north Raleigh, where nearly two dozen preteens worked on fundamentals with Beale.
iWeíve been to a lot of third-world countries, but we see that America is doing lots of development for its youth,î said Beale, who also serves as Chelseaís youth development officer. iObviously, it does help to get the adidas and Chelsea brands out, but itís all about developing kids. As an academy coach, itís key.î
The partnershipís roots grew from a tournament last December, when a CASL team defeated a Chelsea academy team in the under-16 championship at Disneyís Soccer Showcase in Orlando, Fla.
iWe were impressed with what theyíre about and what their philosophies are on developing young players,î Clement said.
Clement said Chelseaís goal is to align itself with the right ó but not necessarily the most ó youth programs.
iItís important that the clubs we set up the relationships with are on the same wavelength as us,î Clement said. iItís very important. We want to keep this going for a number of years, so itís important that we get the selection right. … Itís good for them, and itís good for us as well.î
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