Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Morris Prokop

WATCHFUL EYE – Franklin Fru dribbles the ball toward defenders Kallie Bennett, left, and Thane Phillips, centre, while Neil Sedgewick, right, watches during a coaching clinic at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse Sunday.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

REACHING OUT – Will Chetcuti, centre, reaches for the ball while Mikey Jones, left, marks him.

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Photo by Morris Prokop

CONTESTED BALL – Jordan Minifie, centre left, and Minhee Fergusson battle for the ball while Tegan Ewing, far left, and Kallie Bennett look on.

Whitehorse United FC holds coaching clinic in Whitehorse

University of British Columbia women’s head coach and Whitehorse United technical director Neil Sedgewick came up on the weekend to run a coaching clinic in Whitehorse.

By Morris Prokop on January 18, 2023

University of British Columbia women’s head coach and Whitehorse United technical director Neil Sedgewick came up on the weekend to run a coaching clinic in Whitehorse.

Coaching sessions took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings at Yukon University.

An on-field session also took place at the Canada Games Centre (CGC) Sunday during the day.

The Star spoke with Sedgewick after the session. He explained that he was “working with coaches that are coaching players between the ages of nine and 12 and showing some references that they can use with those players that are consistent with the references that we use with senior players. But now just at a level that the younger players can understand … many have seen it before so it’s great to reinforce it so that they can go share with the players.”

Sedgewick explained the techniques he was using.

“We started with the big game for this space and for this age group, four versus four and then we started to simplify that with even smaller activities before we came back to the four versus four because we know with players – and these coaches are all players, or they were players at one time – they want to play the game when they come to practice, so we try to give them the game right from the beginning, break it down into smaller pieces and bring it back together.”

The main thing for coaches to take away from the session, according to Sedgewick, is that “what we’re doing at the youngest levels, there’s a thread that goes throughout to the instruction all the way to the oldest players within the club. And what we did this morning was that thread and the more that we can plant the seed at the younger ages and then nurture that throughout the player’s experience, then they’ll be very competent at the end of their journey within the youth club.”

Sedgewick added “It’s great to be back up here. It’s been about six months or so of the (Canada Games) men. Prior to that, it was every month, so it’s great to be able to get back up and work with the coaches. Such great people and supporting the young players so well.”

Franklin Fru was one of the coaches that attended the session at CGC.

“I really appreciate the fact that Neil was able to come back because he’s been doing a very excellent job. Every time that he comes back there’s always something he brings to what we knew before, especially when it comes to how to play the modern soccer.

“I’ve been coaching for a while now but there’s a lot that I learn from him, especially since he’s coaching at the university in B.C. (UBC).”

Fru was planning on attending the Sunday evening session as well.

“Every opportunity I get, I always try to attend. The other thing is to also encourage because if you look around now, you’ll see that there’s a lot of young coaches and they want to always learn and the way to learn is to be involved in whatever’s going on.

“I would encourage more soccer players to attend these sessions, even if they are not coaching. I think it’s so important. I think as a soccer player, when Neil is teaching, you are learning something you thought you knew. Just for example, the way people kick the ball now is not the way they used to kick it back in the day. So when we have somebody that’s coming from Outside, it’s always an opportunity, to know what they’re bringing in, to know what is happening outside of the Yukon.”

Sam Samuelson and Mark Wickham also attended the coaching clinic. Wickham said “We were learning particularly around the ages of 9-12, how to coach in that particular age group in adjusting how we teach references to young minds. That’s what I particularly enjoy, how we have to adjust our thinking from our adult minds in soccer to our young people, so we can really relate on their level, not our level.

“I always learn new things from Neal, every single time,” he added.

Samuelson said “These are all things that we did with the Canada Games girls. The drills are familiar to me but it’s always interesting to hear how Neal says it and I think when I’m out there, ‘oh my gosh, I’m never that clear’ … and he says so much with so little. So I always learn from that too … it’s important as a coach to have a clear intention for your practice so you can know what you’re looking for so that you can know whether or not the kids are getting it.”

As for the main thing the two were taking away from the coaching clinic, “One (thing) I always take away from this, when we work with young people is be calm and very, very patient when we’re teaching young people,” said Wickham. “They can only learn at certain speeds, so little bits at a time. And it’s OK if they just learn a tiny little seed each time and then a little bit more each time.”

Samuelson added “Neil always describes it as a puzzle and the pieces all go in in a different order for every person but they all eventually get to the same picture at the end and as a coach you have to remember that.”

They were planning on taking in an afternoon coaching session as well.

“Absolutely,” said Wickham. “I take everything I can possibly get. We’re very fortunate to have Neil come up, at his level of experience, to come back and work with our soccer players up here in the North. I take part as much as I possibly can.”

The two Northern Lights Academy U9-U12 coaches were also taking part in the Sunday evening session for coaching advanced players.

Samuelson added “I think the thing that Neil’s really good at is making coaching fun too. I think coaches are slowly finding out just how much he knows and how great a resource he is and how fun it can be to just coach and see the kids learn.”

Wickham added “If anyone ever wants to play soccer, no matter what age they are, we will find them a place to be.”

Those interested in playing can contact Travis Banks at footballclubwhitehorse@gmail.com or go to the Whitehorse United website at https://whitehorseunited.ca

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