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Tournaments Nov 10, 2013

Future vision: Soccer Vision Academy (Ohio) impress at Capital Fall Classic

By Charles Boehm and Roger Gonzalez

RICHMOND, Va. — It’s not often that you see a young team play possession-based soccer in a stylish fashion that is a delight to the eye. But that’s the case with an Under-11 squad out of Niles, Ohio.

The team is Soccer Vision Academy Project 24, and Anthony James is the head man. A native of Trinidad, he arrived in the United States in 1990 to play college soccer at Wheeling Jesuit University, and he ended up starting SVA. His view was to take 12 boys and 12 girls through a technical development program from early development all the way through high school.

A program that began with one team four years ago has grown to encompass 18.

“I think we are all just trying to find competition that will help our players in development,” James said this weekend during the 2013 Capital Fall Classic boys weekend. “We take a very unique approach where winning is an extension of how we try to play. It’s not the focus. This is an event that I am unfamiliar with, and we were ready to bring them here for a test.”

During the tournament, the team competed in the Premier division and went 2-1. SVA opened with an 11-0 victory over an SYA squad from Northern Virginia before a 6-3 loss to their bracket’s eventual champions, the host club’s Richmond Strikers U-11 Arsenal squad.

But the squad earned a 7-1 win on Sunday to close it out, playing with impressive composure as players moved the ball around well and showed a comfort on the ball that belied their young ages.

But perhaps that’s to be expected from kids who are used to playing beyond their ages.

“These kids, I’ve had them since they were six,” James said. “We just focus on their overall development, with a challenge of having them play up. They have been playing U-10s since they were seven … We have seen a growth in their development.”

The focus is to have them understand how to utilize their feet, how to dribble, pass, all the fundamentals with a focus on technique coming from small-sided games, encouraging them to develop a well-rounded skill set.

James said sometimes his U-11s will even work with their U-14 counterparts.

James added that he also tries to study major clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain and Flamengo of Brazil, sometimes even traveling to study them, trying to instill their tendencies into his team.

The main goal is for the players to accept the challenge of pressure, and when it arises, he simply wants them to show their skills by beating the player or distributing the ball, not clearing deep.

James said he plans to continue to search for events like the Capital Fall Classic to challenge his team.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” James said.

That goes for the fans as well.

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