The Houston Dynamo Academy will host their first Partners in Development Grassroots Development Day of the year on Friday, Jan. 28th at Houston Sports Park. The event will be a collaborative effort of a handful of Houston youth clubs including Pure Soccer Katy and the ACDMY. The event will focus on the early ages of 5 to 7 years old. Attendees will take part in ball mastery lessons, to be followed by a fun gaming format, inspired by Horst Wein’s FUNiño methods. The goal of the evening is to build the collaborative spirit between clubs and to share developmental ideas and formats with more grassroots parents, coaches, and clubs throughout Greater Houston.
FUNiño is four-goal game created by Horst Wein, one of the world’s foremost authorities on developing youth soccer players. The game is designed to teach young players “game intelligence” in an optimal setting where the game is the teacher, and the rules are the instructions. Professional youth academies and grassroots teams all over Spain, Germany, Italy and many other places around the world use the 3 v 3 game and the broader FUNiño training methodology as a primary means of player development at the younger ages.
According to Houston Dynamo Academy Director Paul Holocher, the benefits of playing FUNiño at a young age are numerous.
“At these early ages playing 3-v-3 is much better than playing 7-v-7 or even 5-v-5. The players have many more opportunities to be on the ball, dribbling, passing, scoring. With the four goals, instead of two, there are more opportunities to change direction with the ball, which promotes not just technical development, but also vision and decision making,” Holocher said. “When a young player can decide to change direction and go to the free goal at age 5 or 6, that develops insight. Along with our Soccer Starts at Home™ initiatives, we feel the FUNiño 3-v-3 methods can help young kids get a really positive start into the game.”
The gaming format offers young kids the opportunity to play more and be exposed to one-on-one and two-on-one situations. With no offsides, corners or throw-ins there are far more moments where the ball is in play and kids can decide on where to be. Best of all though, it gives all players a chance to do what everyone who plays football at that age wants to do - score goals. It removes the fixation on positions and keeps the game fun and flowing.
In addition to the Partners in Development clubs helping put on the event, Holocher has been working with Isac Doru to help plan how the evening will unfold. Doru has more than 30 years of experience on various technical staffs throughout the world, including serving as an assistant coach for Arsene Wenger and as technical director of the India National Team. Doru believes that this event is an important step for the Dynamo as a club.
“The Houston Dynamo are the only MLS club in the area. We have a social responsibility to grow the game in Houston and we need to give back to the community, especially because they give so much to us,” Doru said. “We can give them the knowledge, understanding basic methodology principles of how we train this particular age group. Taking into consideration the psychological development of the kids and the efficiency of the trainings.”
With the format, the coaches simply facilitate the action, encourage dribbling and perhaps some ideas on opening or seeing the full field. No scores or referees needed. The focus is on playing, fun and development.
For Everick Stoelwinder, the Director of Coaching at Pure Soccer Katy, the event is a great opportunity to help grow the game of soccer throughout the city of Houston.
“We want to help create a culture of development for the soccer community in Houston, and the earlier that we can do that with the younger ages, the better it is and the better for Houston soccer, ” Stoelwinder said.
Carlos Recinos, the Co-Founder and Director of Coaching at the ACDMY expressed similar sentiments.
“I’m excited to get this project going. It’s something that’s going to benefit the city as far as bringing coaches together and collaborating together and doing what we can to help the community out,” Recinos said. “I think this is a great program and I can’t wait to see the benefits of it.”
For Paul Holocher, his goals are very much aligned with the goals of the rest of the coaches as an opportunity to learn more about how the FUNiño methods improve players and support organizations.
“Through the game format, we can fit eight smaller fields on one regular size field. We will look to host between 48-64 players on the day, all between 5 and 7 years old, each playing 3-v-3 to four goals,” Holocher said. “We will film the event so we can learn on average how many touches the players are getting in the games, and exactly what types of actions on the ball the kids are getting, like changes of direction. We want to be able to learn and share these insights. There are many organizations throughout Greater Houston that have youth soccer programs that aren’t soccer clubs, like Parks and Recreations, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the many hundreds of PE teachers in elementary schools that could benefit from these methods. Ultimately, we all want kids to fall in love with the ball and the game and these methods and collaborative efforts can make a world of difference.”
The club plans to have a Grassroots Development Day each month.
For more information, or to join future Partners in Development- Grassroots Development Days visit the Partners in Development.