CEO Eddie Loewen on Coby Atkinson’s Pushing Past Rejection to an Earn Offer
Why Training in Germany with GFL Soccer is Beneficial.
Is the Dream of Playing Professionally in Germany Possible? 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 on the benefits of training abroad and
Loewen has a UEFA A license and USSF B and he and his partner Arne Friedrich, who holds a UEFA A license, connect highly talented American youth soccer players with their homeland top professional clubs and academies.
In today’s fast-paced and commercial youth soccer market, in which many soccer trips are not much more than glossy marketing experiences, GFL‘s Eddie Loewen and Arne Friedrich are the real deal. For highly competitive and talented youths training in America, these men provide a real opportunity for trials and training in Germany. With amazing connections at the highest level of top Bundesliga clubs, Loewen and Friedrich can create opportunities for players in the world of German soccer.
Arne Friedrich is a German football legend — the former defender played 82 times for the German National Team and was the Coach/Manager of Germany U18 National Team.
Since 2012, GFL Soccer has taken over 700 players overseas to compete on the highest level against Bundesliga Youth Academies.
“When we train in Germany, we train according the German Philosophy and Methodology,” said Loewen, a former German professional soccer player who is proud to open doors for talented American youths. “The Training is very intense, disciplined and requires the players to constantly think and make quick decisions on the ball in tight spaces.”
Usually, each GFL Select team is managed by a German youth soccer coach with high DFB Coaching Licenses and professional background with GFL founders Friedrich (UEFA A) and Loewen (UEFA A) also present on the field, conducting training sessions, and coaching during matches.
“During these trips, we always identify talented players that we believe can play in Germany,” said Loewen. “The first step is always a trial training session with a German Youth Bundesliga Club — when the player is older than 16, we start looking at seriously introducing the player to Bundesliga Clubs with the option of the player playing in Germany.”
GFL Track Record – Player Spotlight on Coby Atkinson:
In Coby Atkinson’s case, for example, he started joining GFL Select Teams when he was 14 years old. From then until he was 16-years-old, Coby Atkinson trained with various Bundesliga Clubs such as TSV 1860 Munich and Fortuna Duesseldorf, before going on trial with TSG Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim declined to sign him and so Atkinson continued to play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (DA) for Boca United (Fla.) and then the MLS’ Portland Timbers Academy.
At 17, Atkinson was faced with the decision to either continue the path in the USA leading to College — he had multiple prestigious offers from great schools, or go the USL Pro path — or to give it a shot in Europe.
Atkinson decided to take a Gap Year before going to college and give it a shot in Germany.
“Arne and I organized trials with professional clubs in Germany for Coby with TSG Hoffenheim, 1.FC Nuernberg, Hannover 96, SV Werder Bremen and, last but not least DSC Arminia Bielefeld,” said Loewen.
“During this time, it was super crucial that we showed Coby that both Arne and I believed in him 100%, especially during the set backs,” said Loewen.
The first four Bundesliga clubs declined to sign Atkinson for various reasons.
“You can imagine how tough this was mentally on Coby, being by himself in Germany, in a hotel room and going for a week at a time to trials with these clubs. Each week, new coaches, new teammates, new field conditions, new city, new coaching philosophy and every time you step on the field as the player you have to be minimum as good as the guys you are competing against and better if you want an offer,” said Loewen. “You can’t afford even one mediocre training performance or match performance!”
“During those times, Arne and I had to step up as leaders and guide him through the experience,” said Loewen.
In the end, DSC Arminia Bielefeld decided to sign Atkinson and he is currently playing with the U19s and training regularly with the first team in the second tier of the Bundesliga.
“We are very hopeful that Coby will be playing next season with the First Team of DSC Arminia Bielefeld,” said Loewen.
While seeking a professional soccer career in Germany is not the right choice for every player, most serious youth soccer players benefit from being immersed in the soccer culture and training abroad.
Does traveling abroad provide insight into European soccer culture and player development?
Even though players only travel for 10-14 days with GFL to Germany or Italy, both Loewen and Arne believe the experience can be very impactful.
“Of course, you cannot change a player completely in 10-14 days but you can open the player’s eyes to what is possibles,” said Loewen. “Depending on the personality of the player and his or her self-motivation, self-management skills, self-reflection and self-appraisal, the player can determine how much the 10-14 days overseas really impact and affect their daily environment back in the USA.”
According to Loewen, there are many youth soccer players who returned from a trip with GF Soccer and totally changed their regular habits and became a positive impact in their local team, transforming their individual player development.
Now, GFL has the GFL Cup Series in Germany because they wanted the international matches against German and Italian Pro Academies to be more than a friendly match for their players. “We wanted real competition for the GFL teams we take to Germany and Italy — In a real competitive environment, we can bring out the best in the players,” said Loewen.
The GFL Cup Series in 2019 will be as follows:
- GFL Cup Rome, Italy – June 7-19, 2019
- GFL Cup Duisburg, Germany – July 23-July 6, 2019
- GFL Cup Munich, Germany – November 22-December 2, 2019
- GFL Cup Mallorca, Spain – December 27, 2019 – January 6, 2020
GFL Soccer will scout at the major DA Showcases as well as high-level tournaments and we also offer ID Clinics for players to try out our GFL Select Teams.
Related Article: Exploring Youth Soccer in Germany – 2017 GFL Youth Soccer Trip
GFL will be scouting on the West Coast in late April.