Between the Posts Episode 19 Links:
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- Listen Notes Episode 19
Article Written By Caleb Wossen of The Dallas Observer:
“Most training sessions for youth soccer feature a dozen or more players engaged in rigorous group exercises and fitness tests, mirroring the sport’s homonymous counterpart, football. Practice at Footy Factory, based in Addison, TX more closely resembles a martial arts or improv session.
Players ranging from kindergartners to high school seniors scrimmage in groups of three or four per session and occasionally one is pulled aside to polish a flaw in technique. During these drills, little to no reference is made to games or competition. This is by design, says founder and CEO Sean Afkhaminia. The goal of Footy Factory is to revolutionize American youth soccer with training that is individualized and focused on developing specific skills by taking the focus and pressure off winning.
“We’re trying to develop players, and no else is doing that [in Texas],” Afkhaminia said. “What’s going on in Dallas is that a lot of the big clubs will take parents’ money and put them on a team, they’ll practice twice a week for an hour, and then play a game on the weekend. It’s not enough. There’s no player development going on here.”
Footy Factory is trying to work against the prevailing mindset that the purpose of playing team sports is to pad a resume for college. The attitude of Footy Factory’s coaches recalls soccer clubs in Europe that incubate students for years without interruption.
In conversation, Afkhaminia refers to his philosophy of passion trumping hard work. He insists that no person is born with natural talent, citing Daniel Coyle’s 2009 book The Talent Code.
Afkhaminia specifically disagrees with the bias favoring athleticism and winning records over skill, and he wants Footy Factory to help eager, young players who lack the access or funds to continue developing their craft. Players train three times a week, while members of the club’s various teams practice twice a week and play a game on the weekend. As students grow older, the number of games played per week increases, but training is the highest priority.
“Right now, individual training is always last,” Afkhaminia said. “It’s something that happens after their team practices and games, but that should be their main work so they can take what they know and apply it outside.”
Jude Anuwe, who became a Footy Factory coach in early 2015, majored in biology and physiology at the University of Texas at Dallas. He’s helped create a scientific foundation for the company’s ethics and regimen. It’s all rooted in proprioception or the science of body awareness in space. The plan is to mold players who are able to move more efficiently and better prevent injury.
“Nowadays, you see a particular type of soccer player,” Anuwe said. “Guys pirouetting on the spot, overhead kicks — all of these skills are only mastered if you have a strong core, know where your body is in space, and master your balance. Can we move in a functional way?”
Afkhaminia founded Footy Factory in late 2014 after graduating with a degree in business from West Texas A&M University. Feeling dissatisfied with the school’s soccer program, Afkhaminia briefly managed a soccer club before assuming coaching duties at Shelton High School, there realizing an idea that would evolve into Footy Factory.
For more info on Sean and the Footy Factory philosophy we invite you to check them out on their website as well as social media platforms!