Today had many memorable moments for all of the participants in the tour here in Portugal. The first memorable moment for some is that extra sleep was granted and we started the day a little later with breakfast at 9:30AM. So those sleep lovers enjoyed the eggs with their eyes a little bit wider this morning! We took off around 10:30am to head to the Benfica Museum!
The best museum is a soccer museum!
The Benfica Museum is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. I am not a Benfiquista but I still had some emotional moments as I walked through history of such a huge club. From the players that have gone through the club and the trophies won to the togetherness and spirit of being more than just a sporting club. They have all sports but they remind all who enter the museum that they are very much a part of the history by supporting them on the field no matter what sport is being played. When they succeed, the fans succeed and the club goes the extra mile to recognize the fans as the real reason they are able to attack their championships with bravery and pride.
I could write an entire book on the museum experience today and it’s crazy that I only spent about 2 hours in there. I could spend an entire day there studying and reading up on legends who played. Championships that were won and how they were won. Watching videos of how the club progressed from playing in Belem to Estadio Da Luz!! It was fascinating to see and would recommend any true soccer fan to visit the museum for themselves. The boys of course loved the final part of the museum which is a speed shot to see how hard you can hit the ball. Brandon got the highest speed…..Until I made my way to the end of the museum of course! 😉
Caixa Futebol Campus!
The boys were in for a treat in the afternoon as they attended a tour and training session at Caixa Futebol Campus. Benfica has a specific training facility for their teams of u13 up to the first team and Benfica B team. The facility consists of 9 regulation size grass fields. 2 turf fields and an artificial surface technical training area. Inside the buildings there are areas for the youth with gyms, classrooms and study lounges. Then there are specific locations for only the first team such as the spa, cafe, locker room, and gym. Finally Benfica B (reserve team) has their specific locations inside the buildings as well. There is also a full hotel on the campus that is strictly for the players of the academy and Benfica B and first team players when needed to stay there. U13 to u17 the players stay at the hotel and train every day.
The parents of the tour were not allowed into the complex and only players and coaches. Their is a 12 foot fence around the entire complex to block out any interference or spying that may occur. The goal is to keep all of the training methodology and focus on Futebol for the players and make them feel like this campus is their home. They have enough lime light, problems, and distractions outside of the campus from fans around the world so it is important they have a place for them to stay tranquil and feel relaxed to focus on their job!
The first team training field was a jewel that is only used a maximum 15 hours a week so the field looks in perfect condition daily. The boys finished the tour of the fields and began training with the head and assistant coach of the u14 academy team at Benfica. The session was very technical and they really pushed them to the maximum for their level.
Highlights of the session:
– Ladder work and coordination
– dribbling with no opposition but performing a skill move half way through the dribble
– Dribbling with opposition. If you beat the guy you passed ball off of you lost it the defender passed ball to next guy and followed out.
– 1 v 1s and 2 v 2s to two goals.
– Skills challenge! Crossbar. Wall volleys. Juggling to half and back both feet. Corners with bending the ball in off one bounce. Hitting the net on opposite side in the air on the fly.
– Boys complete maximum 2 stages.
– The top 3 Benfica players in similar age group will finish all stages in 7 to 9 minutes.
Practice ended with myself and the head coach beating the assistant and goalie trainer in soccer tennis.
One of the top days of the tour and putting some challenging thoughts In the boys minds.
– Can I be a pro?
– Can I live on my own at 13 for 5 days out of the week and sacrifice it all to hope to be on the first team?
– Man I wish I could stay here was the thought of a few of them, which is a good thing to take away.
Seeing what you’re up against, evaluating your potential and desire are huge. This was a good taste of true professional development with REAL incentives and competition for all of the kids on the tour whether they believe they will be a pro in this game or not.
Tomorrow is a day of rest from soccer but still full of touring the city of Belem and visiting two national stadiums. One being the national stadium for the cup and the other is the brand new stadium that was built for the national team of Portugal….the champions of Europe.
“Time is the longest distance between two places.”