Boys ECNL National Training Camp 2019 Recap
RICHMOND, VA – The 2019 Boys ECNL National Training Camp took place from July 28 to August 1 in Nassau, Bahamas.
One week out from the conclusion of the second annual edition of the event, both players and technical staff are still raving about the experience.
The camp was held over a four-day period, welcoming the league’s top performers to the Bahamas for a program focused on pushing the players physically and mentally, all while in a tropical paradise. Except for airfare, all expenses for the camp were covered by the Boys ECNL, inclusive of first-class accommodations at Breezes Resort, PUMA training apparel and equipment, and top notch training facilities.
The camp experience serves as both a challenge and reward for the league’s standout players, most of whom were Conference Players of the Year or All-Conference Selections for the 2018-2019 season.
The player pool, comprised of 32 field players and three goalkeepers, was split into two groups by age for the duration of the camp. Team One, led by University of Virginia Men’s Soccer Associate Head Coach Matt Chulis, consisted mainly of players born in 2002 and 2001, while Team Two led by Syracuse University Men’s Soccer Head Coach Ian McIntyre was players born in 2004 and 2003.
“I was impressed with the overall technique, tactical awareness, and athleticism of the group,” said Chulis. “Over the duration of the camp, the players improved their mentality and approach to training and games, culminating in quality performances versus the Bahamas U17 and Men’s National Teams. It was a fun and rewarding experience as a coach.”
Thanks to a close working relationship with the Bahamas Football Association (BFA), all training sessions and matches throughout the week took place at the National Stadium in Nassau, offering a professional backdrop for the players each day. In addition to Chulis and McIntyre, the technical staff included FC Stars Director of Goalkeeping Matt Davison, who was tasked with overseeing the development of the keepers throughout the week, and Heat FC staff coach Darel Russel, who brought a wealth of experience from a prolific playing career in the English Premier League and Championship, as well as Major League Soccer.
According to Russel, the environment matched up with the intention of the camp.
“The Boys ECNL National Training Camp in the Bahamas provided the perfect environment for the players to live, eat, and breathe being an elite soccer player while being coached and mentored by experienced professionals.”
The camp was structured to focus on the principle of progression, and to prepare the players for final-day matches with the Bahamas Under-17 and Men’s National Teams. In an effort to manage the physical load on the players over the camp, the Boys ECNL brought in Mike Whiteman, Director of Sports Science and Performance Training for the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Whiteman was tasked with building in a wide variety of performance workouts with the boys, layering in education to help them understand the importance of proper preparation and maintenance during and out of seasons. The camp also added in a panel discussion with the full staff on Day three, used to educate players on the demands of the collegiate and professional levels.
The final night of the camp saw Team Two take on the Bahamas Under-17 National Team followed by Team One’s matchup with the Men’s National Team.
In the opening match, Boys ECNL Team One took a 1-0 lead into the half, before the second half performance from both sides made for an exciting finish. Boys ECNL Team One was forced to come up with three second-half goals to secure a 4-3 win over an aggressive and fast Bahamas team.
In the evening match, despite a significant size difference, Boys ECNL Team Two put in a tremendous performance, finding their groove in the latter stages of the first half before eventually tallying two goals for a 2-0 win.
“It was a privilege to work alongside such terrific staff and a talented group of young players,” commented McIntyre. “The training environment twas first class as we prepared for international competition. It was a wonderful experience for these young men that will help their continued technical and tactical development.”
The camp served as the informal conclusion to the 2018-19 season. In the 2019-2020 season, the Boys ECNL will continue to provide more opportunity and impact to the clubs, teams, and players across the country as the league grows its impact on the top of the American youth game.