Cortegaca is home to us!
Today was another early start for the boys with an 8:15 am breakfast. The rules for all meals is that everyone must be present before anyone can go up for food or order depending on if it is buffet style or at the restaurant. This is a reminder that we are a team and we must do things together throughout this time abroad. The challenges on the field in training and games will be difficult so it is important to get the littlest thing right like being on time for a meal and respecting your teammates.
I was proud of the boys in training today as it was a double session with Carlos and Nuno who had planned to challenge the boys in many ways but began both trainings with a fun activity. This was a good tactic by the coaches as it loosened the players up. They looked more comfortable to express themselves and show their excitement for being at training. The session in the morning was very technical, with various small-sided games. I got the chance to speak with the president of the club Cortegaca and owner of FutPark, Sergio Oliveira for the duration of the training. He filled me in on how fast they have been growing in the past 5 years and his vision for the future. He reminded me a lot of myself and how our Academy has progressed in the past 7 years with the stories of his sacrifice, passion, education, and overall mindset. It is no mistake that one of their 12-year-olds will not be returning to the club next year because he has signed with Benfica and will be a resident at their all year round football campus.
After training, we made our way to a nice restaurant on the beach for a choice of octopus or pasta bolognese. Both dishes were delicious and the players and supporters finished everything that was offered.
The weather was not the best today for a beach day, but it was a great temperature to train. We found ourselves taking a walk on the beach before the second training session and a few of the boys were brave enough to enter the freezing ocean for a swim. Others were fine on the shore writing JPSC in the sand. We then killed some more time at a local park before heading to the 2nd session.
Training session #2 was more detailed than the morning practice as they progressed for a fun warmup activity to separating the defenders from the midfielders and forwards while the Goalkeepers trained on their own as well with a goalie trainer. The objectives were clear to the players of what they wanted to achieve in the session. The defenders were shown certain movements that were expected to be performed and at what times, while the midfielders and forwards worked on their mobility off the ball and timing of runs to receive in space before scoring. All of them reconnect for the last 45 minutes playing one game of 6v6 with 3 goals for one team to defend and 2 goals for the other team to defend in a pace that was 48 by 60. After they finished with an 8v8 game that showed some good habits and signs of what was worked on in training.
Dinner was the final event of the day before returning to the hotel around 10:30 pm. The meal was at the same location as lunch and delivered again with food and some discussions on upcoming transfers and who the players and coaches think is some of the current top players in each position. A long day out for the players and supporters but a productive day in Cortegaca for the purpose of this weeks trip.
Tomorrow will be a later start as the team will stay local for the morning to rest before traveling to Guimaraes to have lunch, tour the city and play our second game of the week. We are all looking forward to tomorrow!