Kingston Football Academy already seeing benefits of European tour
ERIC RADEMAKERS, technical director of the Kingston Football Academy (KFA), which spent two weeks in Europe recently, thought his players created a positive impact, with three of them going on the watchlists of various clubs.
The Netherlands-born coach took the academy on its first overseas tour, saying the focus was to expose young players and help them understand the demands of playing professionally, a lesson he believes was well learned.
“We want to create a relationship with professional clubs in Europe, mainly the Netherlands, to trust us with having talented quality players.
“I didn’t care about winning anything or if we have talented prayers. It was more about creating a good impression,” he said.
“The whole world has talented players that can perform at the level in Europe. But when it comes to understanding the game, being disciplined, playing disciplined and having good behaviour on the field and off the field, those things are really key.
“The impression they created is that there are serious young footballers in Jamaica who are trying to develop and a lot of the coaches are asking us to come back next year. So the feedback was very positive,” he said.
The young KFA players played matches against top-flight and second-tier Netherlands-based youth academies, such as Fortuna Sittard, MVV and Roda JC and teams from across Europe.
Three KFA players were particularly outstanding and drew interest from clubs looking to monitor their progress, with the possibility of them joining in the future.
“These players are being tracked by the clubs. There was one guy (scout) particularly from the higher clubs who wanted a video. He got a first video that I do not think was really convincing. So we will try to create a better video.
“However, they will be looking to do something like they have done with Argentine players in the past, where the players go and stay over for a month or so with their parents, while they play and train with that club, so that is something we are looking at.
“But it is where next we can go with these players in preparing them mentally, physically and tactically. It’s no rush. They are not going to get a contract now, so the aim is to continue their development,” said Rademakers.
KFA also competed in an Easter Open tournament, which Rademakers considers a bonus to the trip.
The competition hosted teams from all around the world and KFA played teams from Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and England.
In the U16 final they defeated England’s Luton Town 2-1, while the U14s finished fifth from 44 teams.
“This was an opportunity to see where the talent worldwide is. The lesson was different for each player but the general goal was to see where they are and to give them the experience of youth football at a high level,” he said.
He added that the long-term objective is to establish a trusting relationship with the clubs, so the best young Jamaican players will have a clear pathway to playing professionally in Europe.
“This academy is about creating chances for the best of the best in Jamaica and I cannot joke around with that.
“The long-term relationship with these clubs is crucial. To have two or three clubs in the Eridivisie that can give players, that I recommend, a chance at trials at 18 years old to get a contract, is all I ask for.
“I want to know that if we recommend a player that player is serious about development and going pro.
“If I do not have that confidence in the player, I am not going to recommend them because that relationship with the club is the main goal for me,” he said.