FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bryan Scales has long wanted to brush up on his French. Now it’s a necessity.
The New England Revolution’s Director of Youth Development recently returned from two weeks in Europe as he began a 16-month educational program through a partnership between Major League Soccer and the French Football Federation. The partnership provides the chance for one coach from each MLS youth academy to enter the program and earn their Elite Formation Coaching License.
The program began in late February with a one-week session at the FFF’s Clairefontaine national training facility – in which the MLS delegation was introduced to the FFF youth methodology through a series of comprehensive lectures – and continued with a week of observation at the youth academy of a top European club.
Scales was paired with German powerhouse VfB Stuttgart and spoke glowingly about the entire experience.
“It was, I thought, a really professional, well-run first session,” he said.
The program will continue in phases for the next year and will include multiple sessions in the United States as well as additional trips to Clairefontaine and further observation at another European academy. At the conclusion of the program in the summer of 2014, the objective is for every MLS youth academy to begin integrating aspects of the program into their own systems.
“What was impressive about [the French] methodology and their approach to developing players is that they have analyzed it to the nth degree,” said Scales. “They’ve studied it, they’ve analyzed it and they’ve put it into practice around France at all of their regional training centers.
“As a coach and as Director of Youth Development here, you want to see different methodologies, you want to try new things and you want to see what some of the leading countries are doing to develop players. It’s a process where you just want to gather more information and see how it fits with your academy.”
MLS’ ultimate objective is to be amongst the world leaders in player development by 2022, with youth programs consistently producing top players for both their MLS clubs and the U.S. National Team. This educational program is an integral part of that process as the league aims to make its academy system a primary source of talent.
“I think when you have a league that’s as fiscally conscious as MLS, you have to develop from within,” said Scales. “You have to be a league that takes player and youth development extremely seriously. We feel we’re privileged to be involved and I know that our staff here is working hard every day to try to continue to push things forward.”