Partnership between San Diego Football Academy and Celtic FC Pays Dividends on Both Sides
San Diego Football Academy (SDFA) Technical Director Johnson Asiedu and Celtic FC Academy Youth Coach Greig Robertson agree youth soccer partnership is a success.
Why did these two partner? It is simple. In today’s global world of soccer, partnering is essential, and the greatest benefits are in player development and, of course, player identification.
According to Greig Robertson, Youth Academy Coach with Celtic FC, these partnerships benefit the Scottish giant through increased talent identification. Now a player in San Diego has the chance of being the one to catch the eye of a Celtic coach, just as a young man on the pitches of Glasgow does. The club also now has expanded their brand recognition and is set to develop a new generation of international Celtic supporters.
Through the agreement, SDFA has access to some of the top player development and coaching in the world, working with the talented coaches of the Celtic Development Academy. In addition, SDFA coaches receive special age/stage specific coaching education programs.
For Celtic, this partnership with SDFA expanded the growing reach around the globe of their International Development Academy, which already included partner clubs in Australia, Asia, the Middle East and the United States. For the past 10 years, Celtic FC have been increasing their contacts with soccer schools and clubs worldwide, but it has only been in the past three years that they have put together a robust, structured club partnership program. With the agreement, SDFA joined other top youth clubs; PDA (Players Development Academy in New Jersey), FC Bolts Celtic (Boston, Mass.), St. Louis Lions and Celtic FC Florida as part of the budding American contingent.
Celtic FC is impressed with SDFA and was proud to announce their partnership last April. “We have recognized the massive growth in football over the years in the U.S. in terms of participating numbers and, of course, talent,” Robertson told SoccerToday News. “We want to ensure that every player within each of the partner clubs has direct contact with Celtic FC annually, should that be through attending a Celtic FC Soccer School at their own club delivered by authentic Celtic FC academy staff, by travelling to Scotland with their team to train and play for a week, or by elite invitation to train with our academy.”
For partner clubs, one of the biggest benefits is the association with a globally-recognized club – one that was even mentioned in Rod Stewart’s 1978 hit song, “You’re in My Heart.”
Founded in 1887, Celtic FC have won the Scottish Premier League an astounding 44 times, the Scottish Cup 36 times and the Scottish League Cup 14 times. In 1967 the club took a “quintuple,” adding the Glasgow Cup and what was then known as the European Cup to their trophy case along with the other three championships.
With access to a proven long-term player development program and renowned coaching, partner clubs from all over the world can now provide a higher level of instruction to players. The connection to Celtic also gives players and coaches a clear pathway for possible advancement on an international level. It all comes down to amazing opportunities to take their soccer to new heights.
When the Celtic-SDFA partnership agreement was announced, Chris McCart, Head of Celtic’s Youth Academy, told SoccerToday News, “We´re really excited about the development of this new club partnership with San Diego Football Academy. This will see staff from our Academy travel to San Diego to deliver player-development sessions and some coach education workshops sharing with everyone at the club ‘The Celtic Way,’ which is all about mastering technique and playing the game at an exciting, fast-paced tempo.”
That first visit came July 22-26 of this year, when Robertson and U14 Academy Coach David Bowland arrived at SDFA to run the first Celtic FC/SDFA International Development Academy Camp. Players taking part in the camp began with three days dedicated to developing their footwork, skills on the ball, counter-attacking and speed of play. The camp concluded with two days focusing on visualization and player evaluation. Everyone involved agreed that it was an excellent camp and a great opportunity for players and coaches alike.
After the camp, a noticeably pleased Asiedu told SoccerToday News, “We now have our players doing the Celtic Turns, which are specific turning moves named after famous Celtic players.”
In the future, SDFA will be sending players and coaches over to Scotland for the Celtic Experience, as well as welcoming Celtic coaches to San Diego for future camps. The success of these endeavors comes down to having great communication, which both sides agree is already in place.
“It was agreed that there had to be clear lines of communication to ensure that the partner club would feel part of the ‘Celtic Family’ and draw from the expertise and knowledge within the club,” explained Robertson. Those lines between Celtic and SDFA are strong and growing.
“We have a very close communication with the club, regardless of whether we are in San Diego or in Glasgow,” said Asiedu, whose experience in soccer spans three continents. “I have been around people within professional soccer almost my whole life. Some of them can come across as arrogant, but what I know and what we found about working with Celtic is everyone is very polite and helpful.”
Next spring the SDFA BU16 team will travel to Scotland to train at Celtic FC, followed by the BU14 squad in the summer. In addition, SDFA players are now being monitored in the Celtic database, just like the players at the Celtic Development Academy in Glasgow. It is one more benefit that partner clubs have gained by working with Celtic FC.
“Our coaches and players have the opportunity to train at the Celtic Training Center at Lennox Town like anyone else at Celtic FC,” said Asiedu. “Greig Robertson, Chris McCart and all the coaches at Celtic Academy have been very helpful. We are honored to be working with one of the most historic soccer clubs in the world.”
“We feel that this is a partnership in the truest sense of the word, which has clear objectives and outcomes for both clubs,” said Robertson, “and we hope to keep enhancing and growing with the club.”