Andrew Ornoch bringing Dutch style to Dutch Connections training camps
For many kids across Ontario, March break means two things: no school and sports. For the ones that participate in soccer, the week off from school is often spent taking part in soccer camps and spending as much time on the field as possible.
One group that is offering that additional training time this March is Dutch Connections FC and their co-founder Andrew Ornoch. This week, Ornoch has been working with a group of young players in Hamilton, Ontario providing them with an hour and a half of training each day.
Ornoch is a Canadian international who has played professional soccer in Hungary, Denmark, and the Netherlands. His most recent club was the Dutch club Telstar, who are currently in the Eerste Divisie (2nd division), but it was not that long ago that Ornoch was competing in the Netherlands top flight with Heracles Almelo.
With Dutch Connections, Ornoch looks to share some of what he learned during his time playing professionally in Europe. He is home in Canada now working his way back from a major injury, but while sidelined he has worked towards getting his coaching licenses and furthering the camps he founded along with Jorg van Nieuwenhuyzen to provide Canadian kids with a chance to learn from top Dutch trainers.
This week though, Ornoch was only working with a handful of young players, providing them with a more hands-on learning experience. The training sessions focused on a lot of the skills that Ornoch himself realized were lacking from his own game when he joined the professional ranks in Europe.
Ornoch had to work hard in his early twenties just to play catch up on some of the skills that were second nature for players who had been training in a professional setting for years. Making the jump to playing at that level as a 19-year-old, it was only through his hard work that Ornoch was able to rise all the way up to playing in the Eredivisie.
Ornoch works with the young players on the fundamentals like one-touch passing, receiving passes and movement off the ball. Working with a small group, the focus was on moving the ball quickly among players in a small space and constantly looking to put the ball where your target is going to be.
The drills focused on the skills that need to be second nature for any successful soccer player, but often get neglected in training sessions. It is only through frequent practice and working to get touches on the ball that the basics become second nature and a player is then able to build on that and improve as a player.
A lot of the drills that Ornoch used in his training session were ones that players will continue to do at the professional level, as there is always room to improve on your touch, control, and passing. With the talented Dutch teams as the inspiration of what they do at Dutch Connections, it is no surprise that those skills are so valued.
The model Dutch player is one that can play anywhere on the field because they have mastered the basic skills needed to succeed no matter where they are playing. The game is built around the pillars of pace, possession and insightful play and that is just what Ornoch was looking to bring to the young players he was working with.
The philosophy for the program is what many observers refer to as Total Football, which is promoted at all levels of the Dutch game. It places a high value on first touch, close control and attacking flair while training players to be intelligent and creative in their play. When combined with having fun playing the game, the trainers at Dutch Connections feel you have a recipe to help players learn and develop.
The kids taking part in the training sessions also benefit from the fact that they get the chance to work closely with a player who was playing in one of Europe’s top leagues not that long ago, and knows what it takes to find success at that level. Ornoch hopes that his own experiences can help motivate them to see that putting in the hard work is worth it, and that through the training they will become better players.
Along with running the camps and working towards his coaching licenses, Ornoch is focused on trying to make a return to playing soccer professionally. Having been sidelined for 18 months with a major injury to his leg, the Canadian international has already come a long ways in his recovery. It remains to be seen if he will be able to make it all the way back from such a devastating injury, but once again it is his hard work and dedication to being the best player he can be that has allowed him to make it this far.
Dutch Connections will hold a larger camp during the summer, which will include Ornoch and van Nieuwenhuyzen, along with top youth coaches from the Netherlands. They also offer a year round training program that is designed to provide players with supplementary training, top level instruction, and demonstration of a commitment to hard work.
The camp provides young players with a unique experience to learn from trainers from a different country with a more established tradition, which the founders hope will help each player reach their individual potential while continuing to develop their love for the beautiful game.