Smart Soccer Blogs & eNewsletters > 2011

By Neil



November's Newsletter

October 2011: The Hunt For Dry October!

July 2011: Here comes summer!

July's Newsletter

April 2011: Spring is in the air!

April's Newsletter

March 2011: My first blog!


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October 2011


It's been a while hope all are doing well. I so wanted to complete a blog this month just to get the title in – all my own work! Sean Connery eat your heart out!

Time has fairly whizzed by since my last blog, during which time we completed the fun and very successful 24th Smart Soccer Camp Season and are now on the back end of fall training. The biggest challenge has been the crazy and unpredictable weather - hence the blog title!

All that is left of the 2011 Camp Season are just happy memories – it is always a thrill to see the balance of new and returning campers and as always they were great! We hope to post 2011 Smart Soccer camp photo album soon. As always the aim is to post next summer's camp weeks and locations by no later than the end of January. Stay tuned!

The Premiership is now well underway and UTD (no further explanation required) are currently battling it out with the 'noisy neighbours' (among others) and they meet on Sunday. Mouthwatering stuff despite the local time of 8.30am Sunday morning. Sometimes the time difference leaves a lot to be desired! Probably one of the biggest hot button issues in the professional (domestic) game at the moment is the large (and seemingly ever widening) financial gulf between a few 'top' teams and the rest. This is particularly evident in England and Spain with wealthy owners and bottomless pockets creating teams like Man City who have a reserve team of Internationals! My guess is the bubble has to burst at some point and that won't be all bad – might bring some of the genuine fans who have been ousted from the terraces back. You know – the ones who won't sit down!

Closer to home it has been a super experience coaching the kids this fall. As far as all the recreational soccer training we have been doing probably the biggest frustration for coaches is the disparity that can occur between teams during games resulting in 'cricket' scores. Hopefully it rarely comes to that but the point is that recreational soccer coaches need to find a way to allow all the players to have a positive experience and it all begins with pre-game coach communication. I have said it forever and will continue to say it – once coaches are on the same page we can conquer most (if not all) of the challenges faced in a recreational soccer environment. I do not have time to go into specific detail here but, through Smart Soccer, will continue to work with recreational programs to develop the highest quality programs where all players have a chance to be successful and are challenged.

The BIG NEWS of the moment is that we begin our indoor soccer training in November and continue through the end of March. NOW is the time to register for our indoor skills sessions at PSC Highpoint please call the Program Desk directly at 215-822-1951 to book your child's place. Any specific questions contact me directly.

Can't sign off without announcing the good news that England have qualified for EURO 2012 – get in! Should make for an exciting time next June – even without 'hot head' Rooney. The good news is we'll have him back for the semis (ahem).


I hope to see your child at our indoor soccer clinics. Keep on kicking!

PS: Was out and about last night trying to find an establishment to watch the Union v New York, an important MLS game.  All establishments were showing The Flyers (fair enough) and the World Series (what!) but I did use my considerable charm to get the game on. Sometimes it still feels like two steps forward one step back. You know what I mean...




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July 2011

Sorry about the May & June blogs these things happen!

I'm diversifying from my usual format ("after only two blogs Neil you have the attention span of a gnat" I hear you saying!) this is more of a conversational - rambling even - style of blog. See, we all have an inner artiste!


My wife and I had a great experience recently visiting the Anthony and Glen WIP Sports Radio Talk Show so I would like to begin by thanking Anthony and Glen as well as Jill and all the 'behind the scenes' staff who made us feel so welcome. I even got a little 'air time' for some soccer talk - maybe it's not too late to convert our favorite radio hosts over to 'the beautiful game'! Also, in case you hadn't noticed, the UTD shirt was on the radio - pity you couldn't see it!

Spring soccer concluded and despite some challenging weather at times we saw many players out kicking a ball, learning skills and, above all, having fun!

We hope to post a few more spring photos here in the near future.

It's officially hot! We have begun the Smart Soccer Camp Season and the usual 'heat advice' remains valid. Bring lots of water (or energy drink) to camp so your child can constantly hydrate. Also make sure your child has a wash cloth or small towel to immerse in water so they can cool down both internally and externally. The benefits of cooling the body down from the outside are often overlooked. Sunblock is an absolute must of course and not only for those with Anglo Saxon skin such as my-self. I'm even lathering it on my scalp since I now carry the 'experienced balding' coach persona - completely voluntary of course. I could have a head of hair like this if I wished!

After all that did I mention that you can still register for camp!


Back in the day, there were certainly passionate footballers. The photo is Terry Butcher Italia World Cup '90 qualification - and yes, that is real blood!


With no World Cup until 2014 and no European Championships until next summer it's a fairly quiet time for soccer at the top level. Lets not forget however that MLS is in full swing and the Women's World Cup gets underway on June 26 - who can ever forget Brandi Chastain's winning penalty back in 1999. As far as the impending tournament, sorry to all my US family and friends but - 'C'mon England!!

That's it for now - maybe I'll see you at soccer camp. That's Smart Soccer Camp!




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April 2011


I hope everybody out in the world of soccer is well and looking forward to the spring season - rain rain go away and all that! I would like to welcome you all to my second blog. I should be an expert by now right? Well not quite but I did enjoy writing the first one hope you enjoyed reading it. By the way I have not been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of Facebook and Twitter yet so here on the website is the best way to say hello.
I mention my home town of Barrow-in-Furness more than once on this website and for good reason. For one it boasts wonderful tourist attractions such as Furness Abbey! Although I left Barrow 'many moons' ago the town still holds a special place in my heart and I visit every year (and have done since moving to the USA back in 1987). Of course the main reason is that many family members still live there but the town it-self is like a magnet. It's probably difficult to explain if you are not a native of the town – called a Barrovian by the way. In many parts of England when you mention Barrow you are rewarded by a blank stare (or worse). They don't call us the biggest cul-de-sac in England for nothing - I love it!

Anyway just a reminder that the 'blog theme' is that I select one aspect of the modern professional game and one aspect of youth soccer and hopefully give you some food for thought, the intention is nothing more grandiose than that. So for today…

I am a fanatical follower of the English Premiership watching as many live games as possible – thanks to Direct TV, and other avenues, games are very accessible these days. There is nothing like watching the games with like minded souls, perhaps even over a beverage or two – make mine a Diet Coke! The most fun is watching with other people from the UK (and some of our select US friend who we have converted!)  who are fans of opposing teams. In such an environment the banter will flourish and it will always be a lively occasion. In the suburbs there are not a great many soccer oriented establishments hopefully that will improve in the future. Don't get me wrong there are some just not nearly enough. One deterrent for would be spectators is the unsociable times that the games kick-off. I mean getting permission to go to the pub for the 7.30 am Saturday match is akin to me winning a crunching tackle against a six foot centre half – it's just not happening! Still we always have the 12.30 pm games so all is not lost!

In the world of youth soccer today's question (which I am asked every spring and fall) is:

What does my beginner soccer player (ages 3 to 6) need in terms of equipment so he/she is ready for the season?

Equipment requirements for soccer are quite minimal and inexpensive in comparison to many other sports (one of many reasons why soccer is THE starter sport for children!) In fact they are so minimal only one of the below 3 points are equipment related!

•    A #3 soccer ball, cleats, shin-guards and a simple uniform (shirt, shorts and socks that cover the shin-guards)
•    A fun club/community based skills and 3 v 3 soccer program to play in!

•    Parents who will be calm and help them to have fun!

As far as that last point it's massive! Parents (and coaches) who are low key and who just want their child to have fun are 'gold currency' in my book! Show up with your child, learn skills with them and encourage them. Do that and only that and you will be doing the best for your child.

That's it for now. If you have any comments or replies on the above I'd love to hear them!

Register for the Smart Soccer summer camps here.




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March 2011


I would like to welcome everybody to the first ever Smart Soccer blog! In fact for me it is the first blog I have ever written so bear with me - I hope to improve as time goes on.

The emphasis of the blog is, of course, the wonderful sport of soccer. For me soccer is both a passion (first and always) and a year-round livelihood. The passion comes from growing up in the North West of England (Barrow!) where pretty much everybody lives eats and breathes the game. If you're not playing 'football' you're watching it, talking about it or asleep! My home town of Barrow contains fans of all the top clubs including, but not limited to, UTD, City, Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, Rangers and Celtic. Did I mention the discussions can be lively! In addition the town has its own professional team currently playing in the Blue Square Premier – the famous Barrow AFC!

In these early blogs I have decided to select one aspect of the modern professional game and one aspect of youth soccer and discuss each briefly in two or three paragraphs, The aim is simply to be a little thought provoking for the reader. Although it would be nice I am not looking to solve any hot button issues in the blog I just want it to be an interesting read.

Anyway here goes………….

One of the most frustrating aspects of the professional game today is player's diving when their opponent barely touches them (if at all). The English Premiership (for example) is so fast paced that when a player 'hits the deck' with the merest of touches it is almost impossible for a referee to deem if there was a foul or a 'Rodney Marsh' as we used to say. Look him up great player was Rodney!


I don't know that diving will be eradicated anytime soon it's probably here to stay. All refs can do is book the offenders when there is no doubt and hope that is a deterrent to most players. As always there are some who have found humor in the situation as evidenced by the multitude of You Tube videos highlighting the 'best of dives' where no water is present! While the videos are humorous, the problem of players diving to gain an advantage remains a serious issue in the world of professional soccer.

As far as the youth game I would like to quickly address the following question:


How does a young player best develop skills?

Well yes of course you could write a book and many have! In short though I think the following are constant factors in helping players develop their skills effectively:


  • Get lots of touches on the ball
  • Practice in your own time alone and with friends
  • Play small sided games!
  • Watch and listen when your coach teaches specific skills so you can practice them correctly


I'm sure many young players who love the game and want to improve already do some or all of the above – If so great! If not it's never too late to begin!

Well that was my first ever blog that was all I can do now is eagerly await any replies!


If you have any  comments on this blog, please feel free contact me.

Thank-you for reading and see you on the field!





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