BRANDON - The club soccer program in Brandon has gained a lot from its new relationships in the past 18 months.
The area soccer program, once known as Brandon Area Youth Soccer League, has grown dramatically since forming a partnership with VisionPro Sports Institute (VSI) in January 2012. It has merged with West Florida Premier, a Pinellas County club, to form the VSI West Florida Flames; started men's and women's professional teams; and launched player development programs to help players find homes at the competitive and non-competitive levels.
The club continues to develop partnerships, including one with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America that led to a pair of weekend camps in July at JC Handley Park. The camps offered training for soccer coaches of all levels looking to improve their abilities while earning accreditation to coach in the United States.
"Our goal is instructing coaches on how to coach, so we spend a lot of time on the methodology," said Barry Gorman, a NSCAA Senior Academy staff member. "We are wanting coaches to develop players; it's not result driven. It's can you coach players more than style."
The weekend camps provided coaches a chance to peer-evaluate through competition while NSCAA trainers including Gorman, the former head men's coach at Penn State University and former technical director for Dallas FC of Major League Soccer, as well as former U.S. Soccer Team member Hernan "Chico" Borja, tinkered with the coaches' styles.
"Continual coaching education is vital for all coaches as the game, and the methodology of teaching the game, evolve," West Florida Flames Director of Operations Randy Belli said. "We are excited to continue our relationship with the NSCAA and be able to bring these courses to the Tampa Bay area."
The training was open to all area coaches with a number of the trainees coming from all levels of the VSI ranks. Former English semi-pro player and current VSI youth Coach Sam Mitchell said the training style taught by NSCAA offered "a positive style of teaching" that differed from a more critical style he saw at times as a youth.
"The coaches are very positive here and really enforce a lot of good habits in you," Mitchell said.
"I like the model (VSI), the structure they are developing," Mitchell said. "First starting with the youth clubs and a vision to start the youth-to-pro model and that starts with a strong foundation.
"We want to try and push these players on to the college level, then have them play for VSI Super-20, PDL and then on in the future. At the moment the youth program is a stepping stone of what we want to do out here."
Correspondent Jarrett Guthrie covers prep sports and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JGuthrieTAMPA.