Just finished 6 long days of coaching in the TEP Academic Program.
First was a day coaching the sports teachers from the INDER Escuelas Populares.
Day 2 and 3 was training coaches from all over the country (and Mexico), along side players from Riot and Furious George. Without much background on the coaches or chance to plan together, we started with a session finding out what they wanted to learn. We explained many of the approaches and organisational systems of our teams. The second day was smoother, giving all the attendees opportunities to coach the others (who role-played beginner players) and then evaluate that coaching.
There is an insatiable thirst for ultimate knowledge here in Colombia - folks are keen to learn whatever they can. And when players from some of the strongest clubs in the world turn up, they will ask questions on everything.
I also discovered there are three accredited ultimate coaches in Colombia. They did a course in Bogotá through a state department. I'll find out more.
On Day 4 and 5, Alyson and I coached a high school team from Colegio de San José de Las Vegas. They were boys from 13-16 years old. We worked with them on their offensive cutting system (they have a fairly sophisticated set-up) and their marking of the thrower (they are lacking a lot of fundamentals). I think there will be more instances of this in the near future - Colombians implementing whatever new info they discover, when they haven't been presented with fundamentals first.
The lads had excellent patience to train for seven hours a day for two days. By the end, they had a dynamic zone offence, improved marking and guarding, stronger pulls and impressive O flow, due to the effort they put in. So impressive. And this was a team that was already one of the strongest high schools in all of Latin America.
In some ways, the Colombians have better development pathways than Australia. Three of the Las Vegas high school players train and compete with the senior men's clubs, and many clubs (men and women) here have junior teams (16-20 year olds). There are many instances of talented teenagers moving into the senior competitions with lots of tutelage.
Day 6 was a visit to an Escuela Popular. Picture 30 kids from 6 to 19 years old on a hot, dry, sand soccer pitch, plonked in the middle of a sea of three-storey housing. An occasional dog wanders through, and frisbees worn down to 3/4 of their original weight fly everywhere. Every kid has a solid forehand, but most have shoes that have seen much better days. The two teachers organised the introductions, then we spent two hours coaching and having fun. The level of chaos slowly increased, and we left to catch our bus at the end, with swarms of kids wanting autographs on shirts and shorts.
There are somewhere between 600 and 1200 kids in the region, learning ulti through these Escuelas Populares. Creating social change and teaching life-skills to overcome disadvantaged backgrounds are the main aims. The teachers are doing awesome work.