For months now, the government has been insisting that football and other contact sports should remain illegal at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
12 days ago, we told you about the program, Football For Schools, which the Football Federation of Belize is planning for when that COVID-19 restriction is eventually lifted several months from now. And, they have come up with a specialized football training program, which they want to roll out to young Belizean footballers in the Under-15, Under-17, and Under-19 age groups. It's called "Evo Soccer", and it's A 52-weeks online course developed by coaches in the UK who have experience in training youth athletes.
Since studying and education has migrated to the online domain, the Evo Soccer model utilizes online portals to give participants instructional videos and football drills to practice. In order to ensure that the students are perfecting these skills, they then record themselves practicing the drills and upload them on a weekly basis. The trainers then give focused feedback on areas of improvement that the young footballer needs to focus on.
180 Belizean youths will benefit from the program, and the FFB will pay for the entire year's subscription to Evo Soccer. They hosted a press conference today via Zoom to introduce the initiative to the general public, and 7News tuned in. Here's what the head-table had to say about this Evo Soccer will work in Belize:
Phillip Marin - Technical Development Director, FFB
"Evo Soccer is a 52-week-online evasion program that focuses on individual attacking skills."
"The aim of this program is to provide attacking knowledge and skills to players of all ages and abilities. This program is for our youth national team players. It will engage 150 outside players. When we say outside players, we're talking about the players who are on the field, except the goalkeepers."
"So, it will be 150 outside players, plus 30 goalkeepers. So, this platform will touch 180 players. It will cater to 20 coaches, who will monitor the performance of our players who will be using the platform."
Stephen Peters - Representative, Evo Soccer
"We are hugely passionate about developing young footballers. We talk about the best players in the world who have ever played, and they're all the players that can evade defenders - as you say, go past the defender. If we think about Maradonna, Messi, or Ronaldo, or Neymar, all the top players, they are able to go past people. Now, we have X professionals over here who think that you can't teach that kind of thing. We at Evo Soccer believe and know that you can teach those things. There's a step-by-step process, which is the 470 videos."
Dean Mabson - Representative, Evo Soccer
"This platform provides over 470 tutorial videos, 6 resources to develop the people as players, but more importantly as people, looking at lifestyle, diaries. But, the main focus, from the technical aspect is their individual development in 1v1 scenarios. Now, once accessed into the program, the students will access over 52 ways to beat a defender in 1v1 scenarios."
"Every student from U-15 male and female will have access to the ball, and the same information that is being provided to academy players over here in England, in premiership and championship clubs. Feedback is given through the students or the national players videoing themselves, sending in the videos every week, and then, the team at EVO HQ - some of our mentors have joined us on the call this afternoon - will then have 3 hours every week to provide - this is the key for me - specific, bespoke, individual feedback to each one of the 150 players. Now, this is the key to individual development, which then, when players go into the national training schools and the national camps, the coaches can then focus on the tactical side of the game."
Janivi Caveen Quiroz - U-19 National Team Player
"This initiative with the platform, I find it to be a very good idea from the FFB part, being that we cannot be together, and somewhere or the other, we have to find a way to improve our skills."
Wayne Casimiro - FFB Coach
"When we heard about the EVO Soccer from the Technical Director, Mr. Marin, it was exciting to us because we were doing some work with the female players, through zoom. But, you know that not being there and not having that direct connection was a bit difficult. But, having this platform now is excellent, exciting for everybody. Using the 1v1 attacking skills is going to create a different platform experience for our players because that is one of the things that I would consider that we need to develop."
The estimated cost for this project is $18,000 US dollars, which will be fully covered by the FFB.
The participants who will benefit from this first year of EVO Soccer have already been selected, and there is also a waiting list of hopefuls.
The officials at FFB say that this model is being used by athletes all around the world for training at this time due to COVID quarantines.