Newsletter (05) Term 4
Training was very exciting this week as new and existing members of the program are gradually settling into the post pandemic training environment and its requirements.
We continue to observe a gradual and steady progress across all categories of the program from weeknights to weekend elite skills.
The fun aspect
Kids simply want to have fun as they learn the game of football and that is what the Mongo Football environment provides for them. The discovery phase with Mini Mongo is completely different to the Skills Acquisition phase with the Academy players.
The curriculum is designed to provide a balance between fun and technical ability taking into consideration the various phases of development. As challenging as this can be, it is important to make sure that players are having fun.
In our program, the players are not the only ones who are challenged to raise their game. From the technical director to coaches and junior coaches we are all challenged to improve and develop our knowledge of the curriculum and training delivery at every training session. There is always a sense of relief and feel good after training when we see players after training training heading home with a smile. It is always good to feel as sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Over the next two weeks some of our players will have the opportunity to represent Mongo Football Academy at the Sydney International Cup with over 100 teams competing from December 3rd to 5th. This will no doubt be another great opportunity for our players to test themselves against players of similar ambition and potential. This will also be an opportunity for them to recapture the types of emotions that they could not express while they were in lockdown unable to play a match of football.
This will also no doubt be a great opportunity for parents to watch their kids play but also support the tournament as volunteers to help make this a dream event for the kids.
See you on the field.
Xavi return to Barcelona
Xavi will be making his return to Barcelona as the club’s new permanent head coach, taking over for Ronald Koeman who was fired after a challenging start to the new season
The 41-year-old Xavi was one of the stars of the Barcelona team that dominated world football and twice won a treble of trophies, wowing fans with its playing style under manager Pep Guardiola. While Lionel Messi often claimed the headlines, it was the central midfield featuring Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets that was the heart of those teams.
The managerial change comes in a season in which Barcelona is navigating financial challenges brought about by recent years of mismanagement.
The purse strings have tightened, preventing it from re-signing club icon Messi during the summer and limiting spending on the player market. The situation has increased the club’s dependence on the youth products emerging from its famed La Masia academy, of which Xavi is also a graduate.
Xavi spent 17 seasons at the club and came through its youth system. He is one of the most decorated players in Barca’s history, having won 25 trophies at Camp Nou between 1997 and 2015, including eight La Liga titles and the Champions League. His 767 appearances for Barcelona have only been surpassed by Messi.
As someone who helped set the standard for the club during its glory years, he will be trusted and afforded time by supporters to help the team get back on track. Xavi is intimately familiar with the club ethos, he will back and develop the club’s young players
The biggest gripe supporters had with Koeman was the direct playing style he was imposing on the team, heavily reliant on crosses, which was antithetical to the Barcelona philosophy but which he felt was necessary based on the available personnel. Xavi will surely get the team back to playing its passing-based style in which he was a central cog.
Xavi has already shown that he can implement that style when he became manager of Qatar’s Al Sadd in 2019 after playing four seasons at the club prior to retiring. He led the team to a league title in his second season at the helm.
It will take a monumental effort for Xavi to turn the team’s fortunes around following its poor start to the 2021-22 campaign.
Barca has already lost three La Liga games, including a painful Clasico defeat at home to Real Madrid. The Blaugrana are in 9th place (16 points) and nine points away from league leaders Real Sociedad. New signings Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have yet to reach their best levels, and Aguero will be out for three months while he’s monitored for a cardiac issue.
What might be most critical, and which would help explain the timing of the appointment, is that cash-strapped Barcelona find a way to advance to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds to secure the lucrative payouts that come along with progress in the tournament.
It currently sits in second place in Group E behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich, which would be enough to see it move on since the top two teams advance. But Barcelona is facing a must-win at home against Benfica on Nov. 23. Any result other than a win would likely see it surpassed on the final group matchday in December.