Organization expected to field 10 to 12 male and female teams with highly regarded coaches


By Morris Dalla Costa, The London Free Press

A new minor soccer organization has been established in London and its goal will strike a perfect note with those who put player development ahead of wins and losses.

AS London, a relatively new soccer club established by David DeBenedictis, formerly the president and general manager of London Marconi, and Academy Garrincha, a highly respected training academy operated by Jose (Garrincha) Figueiredo, have come together to form AG London.

The new organization is expected to field 10 to 12 male and female teams in total with the emphasis on providing players with an environment that’s geared to skill development.

DeBenedictis said that AG London has put together a coaching staff that is the best in the city.

Garrincha is the club’s technical director. He’s earned kudos for his player development in London over the last few years.

They include Mike Marcoccia, who is a well-known player in London. He’s also played in Europe and was the technical director for Marconi’s girls’ program; Syd Marsh who has played professionally in England and Canada and over the years been a successful coach at the minor soccer level in London; and Jose Bento Vieira, a Brazilian who has major experience at the professional soccer level in South America and Europe.

“All these coaches are well known in London and they have a great reputation,” DeBenedictis said.

More importantly in this time of Canadian soccer history, they believe in the importance of teaching players how to play the game. It’s the new direction the governing soccer bodies in Canada are heading. The establishment of a long-term player development model (LTPD) is going to be the blueprint for future soccer development.

“I like the (LTPD) because it focuses on training and coaching,” DeBenedictis said. “Right now you put the best roster together and you are going to win. And you can keep doing that up to a certain age. You get the best athletes at 9, 10 years old and you are going to win. All you have to do is fill out the lineup card.

“But eventually athleticism is only going to take you so far. They’ll peak and you haven’t taught them the fundamentals and the technical side of it. We’ve done very well with trophies. I said the other day, all these championships we’ve won, it’s put London on the map but other than Tyler Hemming, in last 10-15 years, no one else has gotten close (to top level soccer). With the success we’ve had, we can’t find one person to make an MLS teams. Don’t even think about Europe.”

Marsh has played, coached and seen a lot of soccer. He’s done his share of winning.

He says too many coaches and parents are all about winning. Marsh said he returned to England last year and found that leagues did not keep standings or goal scoring statistics from nine-through-12 years of age.

“I have a closet full of trophies at home but what does it mean?” he said. “I’ve never always been about winning. I watch teams in London and they are fantastic at winning games but developing players, no they are not.”

Marsh said the way Garrincha has developed the players’ skills is what attracted him to join the new club.

“Our coaching staff from top to bottom, you aren’t going to have a better coaching staff anywhere in London and that’s what we wanted. We’re going to develop kids and teams,” Marsh said.

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