By Justin Whitaker
— During the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) convention in Indianapolis Jan. 16-20, Westside United’s U12 boys’ team was asked to help demonstrate with Mick Priest, Oldham Athletic FC’s youth team coach and centre of excellence manager and former Manchester United’s academy coach.
Priest ran a session based on a training method that Manchester United uses. Chris Wey, the Westside United’s U12 coach, got training in the method last year so he’s been implementing it with his players.
“He requested that our boys come in, since they kind of knew the ins and outs of it,” Wey said. “They came and ran a great session.”
Coaches from all levels and across the world flew into the week-long convention held at the Indianapolis Convention Center.
“There are meetings for college coaches, high school coaches, and all sorts of symposiums, lectures, and the demos which were what my boys were part of,” Wey said. “It’s kind of like a big networking thing. You’re sharing your ideas and things you’ve seen be successful.”
As important as networking is at the convention, learning is just as important.
“Coaches show different sessions that they may run to address parts of the game for different ages and both sides, boys and girls,” Wey said.
Wey coaches the U12 boys and is also the director for the U8 and U9 boys’ academy. He also won the 2011 Indiana boys travel coach of the year.
While happy with the award, Wey said it came because of those around him.
“It just meant that people are not even noticing the work I’m doing because I get all of this work done with the assistant coaches that I have,” Wey said. “Just the work that our club specifically Westside is doing with educating our coaches and putting the proper coaches in the right age group. It wasn’t really anything about me, it was more about kudos for our club.”
Getting the opportunity to work alongside Priest, who was with Manchester United for nearly six years was monumental for Wey.
“I’ve been a big Manchester United fan ever since I was a kid, so anything Man United, even if it wasn’t the head coach of Manchester United, anyone affiliated with Manchester United they are that much closer to being a part of the club than I am,” he said. “It was just a good experience meeting with him and kind of talking and talking about the training methods that he uses with the kids in England.”
Wey’s team consists of 15 players that are mainly sixth-graders with one fifth-grader and one seventh-grader. The players are from Plainfield, Avon, Brownsburg, and the westside of Indianapolis.
Demonstrating at the convention was a neat experience for the group of 15 players.
“It was an awesome experience for them because any time you go out in an area and they look up in the bleachers and see 500 to 600 people, the next time they might see that many people is if they play collegiate soccer maybe,” Wey said. “It was good for them to go out there and have fun and demo and show people what they’ve been working on. For them, it was a great opportunity for them to showcase their skills in front of other coaches.”
Other Westside United teams were used by coaches at the clinic to help demo their own tactics. Those groups included the U8, U9, U12, U13, U14, U15, and U17 boys.
“It was good just for our club to be asked to provide the players for these coaches to do sessions for them,” Wey said. “The coaches are looking for the better the talent, the better their session because it will make them look more professional and run smoothly.”