CEO Eddie Loewen Talks Player Development, Why Training in Germany is So Beneficial and Why GFL is the Real Deal.
Eddie Loewen is the CEO of GFL Soccer and the Director of Coaching of Dunedin Stirling Soccer Club — the GPS Tampa Bay Affiliate of FC Bayern Munich, Loewen has a UEFA A license and USSF B and passionately connects American youth soccer players with his homeland’s top academies.
In the highly competitive youth soccer world in which many soccer trips are more glossy marketing than real opportunities, Eddie Lowen is the real deal — a man with amazing connections at the highest level and the ability to immerse American youths inside top Bundesliga clubs.
Often soccer trips to Europe are merely opportunities to train at the soccer fields next to the big name clubs and play their “community” teams — Loewen’s GFL Soccer is different.
When you go on a GFL trip, you actually play against top Bundelisga Academies, so players really discover their level of ability and are seen by scouts.
Attracting top American youth talent that wants to take their game to the next level, GFL takes teams over to Germany twice a year — in November and July.
Coby Atkinson — U17 Portland Timbers / Jamaican U17 MNT and George Acosta — US U17 MNT are two youth players who have benefited from GFL trips to Germany.
In 2015, TSG Hoffenheim invited Atkinson for a tryout, where he trained under Dominik Tedesco who is currently the Head Coach of Schalke 04 — one of Bundesliga’s top clubs and George Acosta trained at FC Bayern under Stefan Beckenbauer with their U13 team. Right now, Acosta is on the 21-man roster for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India but a few years ago, he would have been picked up by FC Bayern if FIFA’s regulations on the status and transfer of players were different.
The next GFL Soccer trip is coming soon – November 17 – 27, 2017. GFL is taking a U11, U13, U15 and U17 Boys teams and one U15 Girls team to Munich, Germany.
Here is Diane Scavuzzo’s interview with Eddie Loewen, a retired German professional soccer player who proud to open doors for talented Amerian youths.
Diane Scavuzzo: How many years has GFL been taking teams to Germany?
Eddie Loewen: GFL has been taking players overseas since 2012.
Diane Scavuzzo: What types of youth soccer players benefit from the GFL soccer trip?
Eddie Loewen: Players who strive to perfect their game and want to measure themselves against the best.
The players don’t have to be necessarily the best in their State or in their Club but as long as they demonstrate the willingness to learn and persevere in tough situations, we are willing to work with them and help them to become the best version of themselves.
Related Article: Exploring Youth Soccer in Germany – 2017 GFL Youth Soccer Trip
Diane Scavuzzo: Do families usually come with their player?
Eddie Loewen: Families do not have to come, but they can choose to join their player on this trip.
We have a great staff dedicated to ensuring that players who travel on their own are well-taken care off, feel comfortable and can, therefore, focus on playing the game and enjoying the experience.
Related Article: Exploring Youth Soccer in Germany – GFL’s Eddie Loewen
Diane Scavuzzo: If the family chooses to come and make it a soccer holiday, what would that be like? Is there time for sightseeing?
Eddie Loewen: Yes. Families can make this a soccer vacation, but they need to keep in mind that the entire trip is geared around the players and immersing them into Germans soccer culture through training with experts, playing against Pro Academies and meeting German soccer legends.
This is a player development oriented trip.
From watching pro matches in amazing stadiums filled with cheering fans to private Question and Answer sessions with former professional players, our GFL trips are authentic, soccer oriented experiences designed to help raise the players’ game.
Around the nucleus of these activities, we build in the cultural aspect. Parents have the freedom to schedule their own sightseeing and mostly we see small groups of parents getting together after the second or third day and planning their own little day excursions because they realize that the players are in good hands and they don’t have to watch every training session.
Diane Scavuzzo: There are thousands of international and domestic athletes for soccer coaches to choose from, how does a GFL trip benefit college-bound players?
Eddie Loewen: Especially for the players U15 and older, it is a very important learning experience.
The players who travel with us are treated just as if they were part of a German Pro Academy and it teaches them to be self-sufficient, accountable, self-motivated and gritty.
Many players have a false sense of reality on what it takes to be a professional or College Athlete
The experience we provide helps the players get serious about achieving their goals.
I think what differentiates GFL from many other tour providers is that we are in close contact with the clubs in Germany and we stay in touch with our patrons, even after the trip and especially when players need assistance — for example, with getting into College — we always offer to help.
We have many college contacts and it often helps when a trusted reference reaches out personally on behalf of the player.
Related Article: Improving Youth Soccer Development – Eddie Loewen
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the level of play on the GFL Trips?
Eddie Loewen: The level of play in Germany is higher than in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program but our teams are paired in age groups — so, when we play a German U13 Team (2005), our American team will consist of players born 2004 and 2005 which can give us a bit of a physical advantage.
In general, our US players are not used to the gritty and high tempo play and it takes a couple of games to get used to it.
All of our DA players express the same thought — “Wow the tempo and efficiency of the German players are incredible.”
There are youth soccer clubs that are not members of the DA which do a great job in providing an appropriate platform to develop.
For players who are not part of a DA, GLF gives them the ability to measure themselves with the absolute elite and develop their personal game to their max potential — because they see how high the bar is and they now have a tangible measuring point.
In the end, we evaluate the players and sometimes we have players who are not in a DA who develop better than a DA player.
The key is that players see how they measure up against a really high bar and from there, we help them on the areas they specifically need to work on in order to close the gap — and, then it is all up to the player.
We just help the player to realize where they stand on the soccer map but the steps need to be taken by the player
Related Article: Eddie Loewen on Raising the Level of the Game
What do the players say about Eddie Loewen and going on a GFL soccer trip to Germany?
“My Trips to Germany with GFL Soccer helped me see the standard of play that I have to be at — to play at a higher level,” said Adam Hassan — DC United U17.
“When I had my trials with TSV 1860 Munich and Fortuna Duesseldorf, I realized that my counterparts in Germany put emphasis on every little detail, such as nutrition and being very attentive during the training sessions … every session was a hard competition among the players because each player had to prove themselves to the coach in order to make the roster for the weekends game. “
From the GFL experience, Hassan realized that he had all the tools to play at their level, but needed to become quicker and stronger to play center back for a top Development Academy.
“I learned that you need a lot of grit and tenacity to be successful on this level.”
“With GFL Soccer, I learned what it was going to take to improve my game. Coach Eddie and Coach Milen were both professional players at a very high level and shared their advice with me — on how to defend against higher level players. Also, when playing against these top German youth academies — we had some of the best youth soccer players from all over the US with us, and we all learned a lot from each other.
Beau Taillefer — TBU Rowdies U16 Boys Premier Boys said, “I want to thank Eddie Loewen and his GFL Soccer’s Coaching Staff.”
“I needed someone to believe in me and push me, Eddie was that guy.”
In 2015, Taillefer was invited to Munich, Germany to play against high-level youth academies in Europe. In summer 2016, he went back to Duesseldorf Germany and played against youth teams such as BVB, Bayer Leverkusen, Fortuna Duesseldorf, RW Essen and VFL Bochum.
“GFL’s training during not only prepared me for the grueling season but gave me the confidence to play for Tampa Bay United and winning the National Championship,” said Taillefer. “We have played over 11 months of straight soccer, winning 8 Championships, and ended the season with the US Youth Soccer National Championship. I was able to score 40 goals during this season and attribute a lot of my success this season to my experience with GFL Soccer.”
“Playing with GFL gave me the opportunity to play with German Bundesliga teams and really prepare for playing on the college level,” said Jonathan Jiminez — USF Sophomore.
“Taking on teams from 1860 Munich and MSV Duisburg, the speed of play and physical demand was at the highest level. Now, I currently play at Seton Hall University in the Big East which is a similar style of soccer as played in the Bundesliga — going to Germany with GFL helped me gain a collegiate roster spot.
Jiminez made 15 starts his freshman year and was named to the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team.
Stevie Rudderham — USF Sophomore first traveled overseas to Munich, Germany with GFL when he was in High School.
“Through GFL, I was selected to train with a U19 Bundesliga team, 1860 Munich. The level of training in these sessions was nothing like anything I had ever seen in the USA. I realized I needed to raise the level of my game in order to compete with players around the world,” said Rudderham.
“After high school, I tried out for FC Magdeburg, a second division Bundesliga team in Germany and was invited to play with their U19 team. The discipline on the field was incredible and the comradery in the locker room was amazing,” said Ruddergam. “Here was a place to focus on the training session and then cool down afterward. These experiences and opportunities — made possible by GFL — have helped shape me into the player I am today.”
Want to read what parents have to say? Read More.