IT promises to be a busy few weeks for the NDSL, with a high-profile coaching clinic to be held by Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga the highlight for the innovative league. Under technical director Mitch Whitty, the NDSL has made huge strides and in his 28 months in charge Academy teams have enjoyed some significant results on the field - most notably against the DDSL.
This is partly down to the standard of coaching and Whitty believes the visit of the Sporting Braga director of coaching on January 23rd is another big coup for the league. 'That's a huge event,' he said, 'and I think we are going to have 150-plus coaches from across the country coming over for that. It is a big one, because we have someone from a club that qualifies regularly for the Champions League.' On the inter-league front, the unbeaten Academy Under 12 and 13 teams will host their Carlow counterparts at the Oscar Traynor Centre during the last weekend of January. Before Christmas, the NDSL Under-15s defeated the Irish Under-15s development team, and with the Irish team featuring five of the panel that went over to Qatar, the 31 win represented a significant win for the home side. Player development remains foremost at the academy and the work that the NDSL staff is doing has not gone unnoticed elsewhere, according to Whitty. 'We had 28 players from our academy who had trials with the various clubs abroad and a number of them are being invited back for 2013. 'And they all said that the players were tactically and technically prepared when they go over. A lot of the UK clubs are saying that we are doing our job really well, because when they have come over they have been able to tactically adjust to a couple of different shapes.
'And also we have prepared them for the Emerging Talent Programme.' Nonetheless, the NDSL is also keen to keep its players and Whitty believes they are making significant progress on that issue. 'We have stopped the cull at 15 and 16. We did lose a few players last year, but we have stopped that stem.
'If you look at it St Kevin's are putting in a lot of strong teams at 12, 13 and 14 and there are going to be a number of DDSL clubs who are going to come to us next year.' Another significant date for the Academy is February 3rd when Dermot Dalton brings his FUNino 3x3 clinic to the Oscar Traynor complex for the first time. This is aimed primarily at the younger age brackets and along with the age realignment programme, Whitty believes this can only bring on players.
'I think it definitely helped. I think players spending an extra year at seven and ninea-side has made a huge difference, especially with players from age nine, 10, 11 and 12. They are much technically better than what we had before.
'They were playing on bigger and quicker pitches and they were able to play at the right age and the right pitch size and it's been hugely beneficial.' -Registration for the Sporting Braga clinic takes place from 6.30 to 7pm on Wednesday January 23rd a the Oscar Traynor complex. The clinic, which runs from 7 to 10pm, is open to all coaches and costs €25. -An additional premier soccer skills course takes place next Saturday at 9.30am and details on all the above are available from Mitch Whitty at 087-9513624.