A delegation of Scottish FA Coach Education staff and course participants were given a look behind the scenes of one of world football’s most renowned youth academies when they were invited to Feyenoord Football Club.
The home of Total Football, Holland has produced some of the game’s most talented players and Feyenoord of Rotterdam have carved an enviable reputation as one of the great producers of young talent.
Led by Mark Wotte, the delegation from the Scottish FA were given access all areas courtesy of academy director Piet Hubers. As well as showcasing the club’s best talent from eight years old to the first team squad, Feyenoord also allowed the delegation an insight into their pan-European strategy of developing coaches across the world: Coaching the Coaches.
With such a diverse ethnic mix, Holland have taken their Total Football philosophy globally to improve the prospects for those players and coaches who could yet represent the Dutch.
Hubers was joined by Wim van Zwam, the Netherlands' Under-19 coach, and Aloys Wijnker, the head of AZ Alkmaar's youth academy to provide an overview on the seamless work between the grassroots game and senior professional game.
With an emphasis on drilling the skill and training the brain, the Scottish FA coaches were told how Feyenoord overcame serious financial uncertainty a decade ago by investing precious resources into their academy system.
It has since consistently been ranked in the top three academies in Holland, with half of their first-team squad hewn from their youth ranks, with more than one-fifth of their academy players representing Holland at age-group level.
The Performance School system developed in Scotland has been implemented with the confidence of Feyenoord’s similar system bearing fruit, enabling players to practice every day as part of their curriculum.
This clear vision has ensured Feyenoord have produced more players in the 2014 FIFA World Cup than any other club on the planet.