Porto, Lisbon & Algarve
Academia Cristiano Ronaldo - Sporting Clube de Portugal
The Academia Cristiano Ronaldo is located in Alcochete, 30 km outside of Lisbon. My visit to tour the facility, observe training sessions and speak with the coaches took place October 28 & 29, 2021. The Sporting "B" team is coached by Felipe Celikkaya, and his staff. They were very receptive and went out of their way to speak with me and answer my questions:
Q: What has provided you with the greatest learning as a coach, courses or experience?
A: They both play in an important role. You learn through experience what cannot be taught in the courses. However, experience can only take you so far, eventually the courses are needed to continue your education. Extract ideas and philosophies from different sources and incorporate them into your personality. It is not a one size fits all, understanding the challenges and areas of improvement in your team is the most important.
Q: How much emphasis do you place on team building?
A: Team building and establishing individual relationships are very important! You want to have the support of the players so that no matter the results of games, they are always motivated to perform. There will be moments or stretches when the results are not good, if the team is not unified and the players are not motivated, then the chemistry of the team can deteriorate quickly.
Q: How much emphasis do you place on tactics?
A: Every training session is recorded. In preparation of the sessions, the coaches review the film to identify tactical adjustments, or scenarios that require further explanation to the players. The players and staff then review the film together immediately prior to the session. It takes time for the players to understand the principles, around a year. Our situation is difficult because we must adjust to players being called up to pro or national teams.
The focus of my observation:
activities & progressions - the session was very efficient! the staff would lead the players through dynamic stretching into a technical passing variations, always concluding with team building or mental activation. one of the new players had to run through a player tunnel while getting the back of his neck slapped, welcome! from there, the progressions maintained the flow of the session: playing out of the back under high pressure, creating offensive chances from the middle of the field against a high defensive line, breaking down a defense that is well positioned in their defensive end - very efficient progressions and it was evident the players well rehearsed in the activities. All of the activities were functional 11 v 11, with the only change being the location on the field, and the space to work with.
communication from coaches - the coaches were very hands on, with Felipe being vocal from a central position, and an assistant on each sideline. Any player not involved was off the field running through dynamic activities with the fitness coach. The flow of the practice was not disrupted with coaching points. Instruction took place in the run of play, or during natural stoppages. Positive feedback was consistent.
effectiveness of session - when you review training film immediately prior to the session with a focused theme to the activities, the improvement is tangible! The flow of the session was the most impressive. Perfectly timed activities and rotations to ensure intensity, and game like conditions. With each progression came more space to work with, and a different location on the field - nothing too drastic, which keeps the players and session in rhythm!
An unplanned alignment of travel plans took me to Porto for 4 days hosted by local Brazilians, what a treat! The live samba concert in a small Porto club was very special, close your eyes and you are in Rio de Janeiro, on the beach in copacabana, ooooooh maria, opa opa opa....! The capoeria lesson with the instructor from Salvador, Brazil was pure gold, and will surely be incorporated into sultan soccer trainings! The most special views of the city were from elevated positions overlooking the Rio D'ouro - the river that runs through the city with six unique bridges. The Maria Pia is a railway bridge built in 1877, and attributed to Gustave Eiffel. The city is very classical with many narrow alleys and staircases, well preserved for hundreds of years!
Renting a car from Lisbon, away I go to see firsthand the region of the country that everyone speaks so highly of! Casceis reminded me of the south of France, very beautiful beaches and landscape with the glitz and glamour around every corner, an affluent city not too far from Lisbon. Nazare - the biggest waves in the world! A surfer's paradise to experience the 30 meter waves! These high swells are in a certain location where the canyons beneath the water allow for a tremendous undertow that provides leverage for the huge waves! Standing on the beach, the sheer power of the waves crashing was very impressive! Sagres is as far southwest you can go in the country. Isolated beauty where the Atlantic meets the cliffs of Portugal. Untouched nature that is most appealing to me! Portimao is to the east with beautiful beaches against the backdrop of red cliffs filled with vegetation. The boulders from the cliffs randomly continue into the ocean, producing many caves and secluded spots of beauty. This is a tourist location where the nightclubs pound music into 4am, reminiscent of Panama City beach, Florida - The only stain on this location. Faro - less beaches with more maritime history. The feel of a small town, lined with cafes and monuments to pay tribute to this location that was used as a meeting point for ships to embark on their new world exploration! Monte Gordo - bring me back! Wide open beaches with golden sand, warm water, no crowds! My last stop before continuing to Seville, Spain.
Next stop Seville, Spain.....