West Ham United International Academy Camps Provide Unique Experience for Youth Players
Over 250 youth soccer players gathered at Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, over the summer to attend the latest West Ham International Academy National Camps. The two invitation-only camps, for U10-U13 boys and U12-U18 girls from July 28-31 and for U14-U18 boys from August 1-4, were led by Academy Director Tony Carr and proved participants with an unparalleled “West Ham United experience.”
West Ham International Academy National Camp #1
The first camp, for girls and younger boys, saw 165 players participate in the four-day training program that included several top coaches from West Ham United Academy. The second camp provided a similar experience for 110 older boys. Each participant had to qualify at one of 22 regional state camps, with some repeating from previous National Camps.
Players from 19 states as well as Canada and Bermuda attended the camps for the opportunity to learn from some of the top coaches in England, including Carr who has worked with the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand at West Ham United. Also on hand were Academy Assistant Director Paul Heffer, Academy Technical Director Ian Yuill, and eight Academy coaches. The 10:1 player to coach ratio provided participants with an amazing chance to train in the West Ham style.
Carr has defined the West Ham style as “open, attractive attacking style. We try to give the individual player the freedom to express himself and not tie himself down too much too early, in terms of age, to a position,” Carr explained.
The top players at the camp, about 20 percent, depending on the quality shown, will have the opportunity to move on to the next level of the West Ham experience. These players will be invited to the West Ham Academy Experience in London, an extension of the National Camps in the environment of West Ham Academy. This is a unique opportunity for young American players to see what life is like for players in an English Academy system.
This experience will take place in the spring of 2013 and will include training and assessment at West Ham United Academy, a full West Ham United International Academy kit and accommodations at the West Ham United Hotel inside West Ham United Stadium. Players will also attend two English League or Cup matches and receive full tours of West Ham United Stadium and Wembley Stadium.
Outside of the football experience, participants will have a guided bus tour of London and a riverboat cruise on the Thames. They will also experience the London Eye, the 443 foot-tall (135 meter) Ferris wheel that stands on the south bank of the Thames. The youngsters will be chaperoned 24 hours a day during their stay in England.
West Ham United International Academy is dedicated to identifying top prospects around the globe, particularly in America where soccer has made great strides in development. “The enthusiasm with American youngsters to get better and to play the game is unquenchable at the moment,” says Carr. “There is lots of raw talent in the US and some very good players. There is no question about that.”
The West Ham National Camps are held in Rome, Georgia at the gorgeous private prep school, The Darlington School. While the weather was hot and humid, Rome is tucked in the foothills of the ancient Appalachian Mountains and offers an array of affordable hotels. The most popular hotel is the Hawthorne Suites located in the small and quaint downtown area. Families are welcome to visit players attending the National Camp and Rome’s three rivers offer family fun. There is plenty of camping options as well as fly fishing, golfing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and much more.
The West Ham International Academy National Camps are managed by Global Image Sports (GIS), a sports management company that provides opportunities and experiences in partnership with such clubs as West Ham United, Wolverhampton FC and Chievo Verona. Chief Operating Officer Mike Kelleher, who oversees day-to-day operations, is a former employee of the English Premier League and was Director of Youth for the FA’s Academy program for five years.
One of the goals at GIS is to help strengthen connections between major European clubs and American soccer. In addition to camps such as those for West Ham, GIS also organizes tours for youth teams and assists clubs with direct access to coaching education and player opportunities with partner clubs. For more information on what GIS can provide to clubs, email Mike Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about GIS in this video hosted by former English international Warren Barton: Introducing Global Image Sports
For more information about West Ham United International Academy or to learn about upcoming regional camps, visit their website.