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I am moving some postings from the Drill section 10 to here to keep the drill section a drill section.


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Comment by Aberdeen

so jealous of you! I would rather watch these teams practice than play a game

Have you seen a good team warm up from any of the teams? I did the B600 Nzone regroup with my team as a warm up. I like warm up drills that involve multiple players, skating, passing, and shooting


EDIT: tom the video posted isnt of anything. Think you uploaded wrong file. Just an FYI. Looks like the camera is recording part of the concourse through a window.
-------------------------------------------------------
Aberdeen you are right. I titled the video wront. It was a short video of the indoor facility to practice the starts for slding sports.

I have uploaded the correct one.

Today all the teams in the final 4 practiced at the same time but it was during the time I play hockey so I asked Terry Johnson who did the defense instruction a few weeks ago to video for me. He was volunteering for the tournament. He took about a dozen clips of the Swedes etc. I haven't watched the yet. Swedes, Canada and Russians practiced and the Finns only had a few there.

One thing that really surprised me was NO Transition Games. A few flow drills that were similar but the play went the other way on a whistle. I am a little disappointed that these coaches haven't progressed to that level.



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Reply to Aberdeen from Dean

Happy New Year Aberdeen!

You are justified in being so jealous... I feel so lucky to have been able to see these teams practice! (I too prefer to see the training rather than the games. But the games provide a measure of how effective (or not) we are in our training!)

I took a lot of video too but I have had problems downloading it and I am not as technologically adept as Tom - he has the time, knowledge and software to make it happen! (I am embarrassed to admit it!)

I have some excellent off-ice stuff and skill stuff at practices, but until I figure it out... you will just have to wait!


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From Dean:

Quote by: Aberdeen

Today all the teams in the final 4 practiced at the same time but it was during the time I play hockey so I asked Terry Johnson who did the defense instruction a few weeks ago to video for me. He was volunteering for the tournament. He took about a dozen clips of the Swedes etc. I haven't watched the yet. Swedes, Canada and Russians practiced and the Finns only had a few there.

One thing that really surprised me was NO Transition Games. A few flow drills that were similar but the play went the other way on a whistle. I am a little disappointed that these coaches haven't progressed to that level.



Tom,

I agree 100%. Flow drills (North-South = chip it out / dump it in: give up possession, hoping to either win it back deeper down ice or give it up farther away from your zone), lots of standing around traditional drills... wow, what a let-down. At least there was lots of cool skill stuff off-ice (and some on-ice)!

Watching the practices, I feel that the international game has become far more "North American-ized" than "European-ized" for a variety of reasons. I have seen it first-hand that it is taught in the practices. Possibly, the European teams recognized that they would be playing in North American-sized rinks, so perhaps the philosophy was to 'borrow' what North American teams do, with the hopes of incresing their chances of success?

Most people perceive the NHL as the pinnacle in hockey; thus they want to emulate it... how teams play, etc. and this is reflected in the coaching. These players who 'learn' boring, standing-around, drill-oriented North American hockey (or should it be, unlearn?) 'infect' the other Euro players.

Plus there is so much transference with coaches these days - at least for North Americans... they seem to pop up all over the globe in Euro systems... but the Euro coaches don't seem to either get or make / take the same opportunities here in North America.

How about transference of junior-aged players? Why do you hardly ever see North American's going over to play minor hockey or junior in Europe? It seems to be Europe to North America - exclusively - so far as players are concerned. (After watching the wonderful team play of the Finland U17 National Team at the High School Championships, I would prefer my kids to train under THIS system!)

Tom, you previously commented to me that any team that learned to properly hinge their D-men would hold an incredible edge against their opposition. This leads to increased possession time through always having one support player backing up the puck carrier. I saw this executed consistently by the U17 Finns and you are 100% correct. It makes a huge difference. Even Shattuck St. Mary's tried to do this (just not as consistently) and they were pretty successful - beating the Finns in the final - keeping in mind that SSM's was a much older team. I have seen some signs of a few Euro WJC teams doing this; but the majority seem to have adopted a more North-South approach for this tourney (rink size, emulate the NHL?)

Here are the World Junior rosters showing the number of North American players vs total players by team:

Canada 22/22 (20 Mjr Jr / 2 NHL)
Czech 10/23
Denmark 2/23
Finland 1/23
Latvia 4/23
Russia 6/23
Slovakia 7/20
Sweden 4/22
Switzerland 7/23
USA 22/22 (7 Mjr Jr / 14 NCAA / 1 USA JR)

Perhaps these numbers show why I love what I see in Finland. With the majority of their kids staying home, they have a strong development program and perhaps enough numbers (a critical mass?) to make good results realistic. It will be interesting to see how the Finns respond in today's Bronze Medal game.

Hockey Canada currently has 572,000 kids registered in minor hockey (down more than 200,000 from their peak!); The opposite trend is evident south of the border, where the number of players registered with USA Hockey rose from 195,000 in 1990-91, to 500,579 in 2010. Slovakia currently has about 8000 players TOTAL (including all their pro players up to 40+ years of age; only 200 females registered in total; and about 70 junior-aged kids (18-19 year olds). Finland has about the same number as Hockey Alberta (about 69,000). Not sure of the other countries numbers...

For the Canadian numbers by gender and province, go here - http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.php/ci ... a_id/1.htm

I will post this one in the Article forum - http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editoria ... nor-hockey

Regarding Slovakia, Igor said that you have about a 1 in 3 chance of being selected for their National Junior team - if you have a Slovak passport and are 18 or 19!

Igor also mentioned that their most-skilled kids (7) who went to play Major Junior in North America are now drastically unfit since they came over - they train far less due to travel; nutrition isn't really a priority and based on my time in the CHL, I suspect the training regimines are not scientifically based on a true Yearly Plan; nor are they 'Long-Term" in nature - they are seasonal at best and are greatly influenced by the ridiculous scheduling of too many games located far aprat. (I think teams would be better off to play two or three in a row to reduce travel and the impact of the schedule.) The Slovaks created an in-country hothouse program to try to keep their juniors together - Team Orange. Time will tell if they are successful (and if they continue to receive the funding to do so!)

Thinking out loud... if I was an NHL GM, when I drafted European players, I would let them stay in their country to develop (provided that country had a strong development program - if not, see if I could place them into a European program that was stronger. Maybe I would encourage some North American prospects to develop in Europe too... a longshot becasue of the 'accepted hockey culture' here and potential rules / ticking off the junior teams here, etc.) Leave the Euro's in Europe to develop their skills until they complete Junior. Then if they need a year or two in the minors and can't contribute to an NHL team yet, so be it. I would look to adapt more of a European training culture (restricted by NHLPA rules) and bring in European coaches / support staff to help change the culture. These things take time - might need 5 or 10 years - and the NHL is a results-oriented beast.

I can't say how much I appreciated the heads-up skill execution and team play by the Fin U17's. Too bad you couldn't keep them together for another 4-5 years and see how they would do...

In closing, myself, Tom and some other coaches on here continue to swim upstream in the adversarial waters of currently accepted North American coaching culture... but like Salmon, we are very determined! Hopefully, we can 'infect' more coaches positively on this site for the betterment of the players and the game!!!



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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From TomM


Dean, I just watched Sweden beat Russia 1-0 in ovetime and outshoot them something like 55-17. The puck protection and close support were amazing.

Congratulations on the Gold Sweden!!


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From Dean
------------------------------
Yeah, wasn't that a game! The Russian goalie stood on his head. Sweden dominated Russia for two periods; then Russia had a few shots in the third. I PVR'd it so I would be able to go back and watch it.

Much better than the Canada vs. Finland game. I found it so boring I went outside to shovel the remaining snow off the sides of the driveway during the 2nd period for a workout; then rode the windtrainer while watching the 3rd period and the post game wrap-up. I PVR'd it too just in case... but it wasn't near as exciting as the final!


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Good call Tom, Thanks for sorting out the sections. I will try to be more proactive in that myself moving forward!


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Leo Messi is an Argentenian who plays for Barcelona. He just repeated being chosen as the best Footballer in the world. It is amazing how he makes moves at top speed now just like he did as a little boy in the first video clip.
Best player in the most popular game in the world. Some would say that makes him the best athlete.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6kp6lfV8gM&feature=player_embedded


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Yeah, I saw this earlier today... and Barcelona is an "OK" team too...!!!!



FIFA Ballon d'Or - Messi crowned world's best

ESPN soccernet staff, January 9, 2012



Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or to claim the title of world player of the year for the third time in succession.

Messi beat Barcelona team-mate Xavi Hernandez and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo to emerge triumphant from the final three-man shortlist to scoop the award at Monday evening's Ballon d'Or gala at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.

The 24-year-old becomes only the fourth player in history to win the trophy three times, along with Dutch legends Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, plus Frenchman Michael Platini.

The Ballon d'Or award caps a hugely successful year in which Messi won the Spanish Liga title, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said Messi deserved to be ranked among the all-time greats.

"I would agree with that completely,'' Ferguson said. "Critics have always questioned whether players like Pele from the 50s could play today.

"The answer to that is great players would play in any generation. Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff because they are all great players.

"Lionel Messi without question fits into that category.''

Xavi supported Ferguson's view, saying: "He's still young, only 24, and I think he's going to break all the records that exist in this sport. He's going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.''

Messi dedicated the award to his coach and team-mates, reserving special mention for Xavi.

"It is a huge pleasure and honour to win my third award," Messi said. "I wanted to share it with those who voted for me, my coach and my team-mates at Barca and in the Argentina national team.

"Moreover, I want to share this award specially with my friend Xavi.
This is the fourth time that we are are together at this ceremony and it is a pleasure for me to be with him on the pitch. This Ballon d'Or is also yours. Without your help I would not be here."

Pep Guardiola was named the FIFA Men's Football Coach of the Year, finishing ahead of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho. "I dedicate this trophy to Tito Vilanova, my assistant," Guardiola said. "It's an honour to share the trophy with Mourinho and Ferguson, and with all coaches around the world."

Ferguson had some consolation as he received the FIFA presidential award for services to football and said: "It is an honour for me in the twilight of my life and very, very much appreciated.

"I have been a very, very lucky manager to have had so many good players who have shared my vision and passion, and that's what makes Manchester United such a special club.

"They retain the courage to play, the courage to try and win. You don't always win in football - sometimes you lose but we always try to win."


Neymar claimed the FIFA Puskas Award for the year's best goal, his fine solo effort against Flamengo voted above Wayne Rooney's overhead kick in the Manchester derby and Messi's strike against Arsenal in the second round of the Champions League.

Rooney secured a prestigious accolade, as he found his way on to the fifpro Team of the Year. He was joined in the team by his Manchester United colleague Nemanja Vidic, while nine of the side either play for or operate in Spain.

Team:

Iker Casillas,Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Nemanja Vidic, Andres Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney

-----

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Messi


Height 1.69 m (5 ft 6 1?2 in)

Lionel Andrés Messi (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and captains the Argentina national team, mainly as a forward. Messi received Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21, and won in 2009 (2009 Ballon d'Or and 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year), 2010 (2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or) and 2011 (2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or). He also won the 2010–11 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. His playing style and small stature has drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi as his "successor."

Messi began playing football at a young age and his skill and potential was soon realized by Barcelona. He left Rosario-based Newell's Old Boys's youth team in 2000 and moved with his family to Europe, as Barcelona offered treatment for his growth hormone deficiency. Making his debut in the 2004–05 season, he broke his team record for the youngest footballer to score a league goal. Major honours soon followed as Barcelona won La Liga in Messi's debut season, and won a double of the league and Champions League in 2006. His breakthrough season was in the 2006–07 season; he became a first team regular, scoring a hat-trick in El Clásico and finishing with 14 goals in 26 league games. Messi then had the most successful season of his playing career, the 2008–09 season, in which he scored 38 goals to play an integral part in a treble-winning campaign. This record-breaking season was then eclipsed in the following 2009–10 campaign, where Messi scored 47 goals in all competitions, equalling Ronaldo's record total for Barcelona. He surpassed this record again in the 2010–11 season with 53 goals in all competitions.

Messi has won five La Liga titles, three Champions League titles, scoring in two of those finals, against Manchester United in both 2009 and 2011. He was not on the pitch as Barcelona defeated Arsenal in 2006, but received a winners' medal from the tournament. After scoring 12 goals in the 2010–11 Champions League, Messi became only the third player (after Gerd Müller and Jean-Pierre Papin) to top-score in three successive European Champion Clubs' Cup campaigns. However, Messi is the first one to win the Champions League top scorer titles for three consecutive years after Champions League changed its format in 1992. Messi is the fourth football player to win three Ballon d'Ors, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco Van Basten and the second player to win three consecutive Ballon d'Ors, after Michel Platini (however, two of his Ballon d'Ors are FIFA Ballon d'Ors, which he won consecutively).

Messi was the top scorer of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with six goals, including two in the final game. Shortly thereafter, he became an established member of Argentina's senior international team. In 2006, he became the youngest Argentine to play in the FIFA World Cup and he won a runners-up medal at the Copa América tournament the following year. In 2008, in Beijing, he won his first international honour, an Olympic gold medal, with the Argentina Olympic football team. At international level Messi scored 19 goals in 66 games.

Early life

Messi was born in Rosario, Santa Fe, to parents Jorge Horacio Messi, a factory steel worker, and Celia María Cuccittini, a part-time cleaner. His paternal family originates from the Italian city of Ancona, from which his ancestor, Angelo Messi, emigrated to Argentina in 1883. He has two older brothers named Rodrigo and Matías as well as a sister named María Sol. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father Jorge. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario. At the age of 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. The traditional River Plate showed interest in Messi's progress, but did not have enough money to pay for treatment for his condition which cost $900 a month. Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, had been made aware of his talent as Messi had relatives in Lleida, Catalonia, and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay for Messi's medical bills if he was willing to move to Spain. Messi and his father moved to Barcelona where Messi enrolled in the club's youth academy.


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Royal welcome for champs: Crown Princess & Prince, 6,000 fans celebrate Swedish juniors

SZYMON SZEMBERG, IIHF.COM, 08-01-12


STOCKHOLM – The IIHF World Junior champions received true royal treatment when they returned home after Sweden’s first U20 gold medal in 31 years. Coach Roger Rönnberg and his players were received by Crown Princess Victoria and 6,000 fans in downtown Stockholm on Saturday.

When Sweden last won the under-20 gold medal in 1981, the win was hardly noticed in media and the players got polite applause during pre-game ceremonies when they returned to their regular clubs.

The ratings from Swedish television from Thursday’s gold medal game against Russia – a thrilling 1-0 overtime win – were still not announced on Sunday, but it is believed that between 500,000 and one million Swedes stayed up between 2am and 5am the night between Thursday and Friday to watch the game. (Official numbers will be available on Monday).

These would be extraordinary numbers for a country of nine million people, where hockey is indeed popular, but where junior hockey, or junior sport in general, does not have a vast following.

All this has changed in the last four to five years after Swedish Television (SVT) started to cover the IIHF World U20 Championship and, at the same time, the Swedish junior program improved significantly.

So when the Swedish players, all with their gold medals around their necks, landed at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, they were greeted by several hundreds of fans, friends and relatives, before a bus took the team, coaches and officials to the Royal Castle where the world champions were received by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, both steadfast hockey fans.

Meanwhile, fans, mainly teenaged girls, started to gather at the Kungsträdgården (King’s Garden), a park in central Stockholm where a stage was a set up for presentation of the newly crowned champions.

When the players arrived from the Royal Castle, over 6,000 fans had gathered at the park and the players where introduced one by one. The biggest ovation was given to Mika Zibanejad, Djurgården Stockholm’s 18-year-old who scored the overtime goal and made Sweden explode in the wee hours on Friday.

“This is sick,” said Zibanejad to the Swedish news agency TT. “I could never have believed that so many people would show up.”

“It’s hard to understand what’s going on. This is fantastic,” said Max Friberg, who was generously applauded for his nine goals and who was one of two Swedish players on the All-Star Team.


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Finnish Development Program Overview

I think this is why I was so impressed with the U17 team from Finland... we (hockey in Canada) need to put more resources towards people - educate coaches with practical activities - and then provide ongoing support.

We also must educate the parents - we shouldn't ignore them. After all, they make decisions with their pocketbook on what sports their kids will play...

The current Canadian model violates principles of adult learning (sit through lots of boring lectures where the taskmaster 'tells' the clinic attendees what / how / when to do everything; it is drill and system focussed ("DMO" = "Drill Manual Obssession" - even at the youngest levels); and barely covers the important topics of coaching philosophies and methodologies... not to mention incorporating accountability through realistic game-like situations!

Content concerning the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) plan seems to be an afterthought - simply providing information to the coaches without really showing them how to apply it (or asking them how they think they should apply it).

Local MHA's in Canada need to recognize the Finnish model and adopt these practices. Fund them through increasing registration fees so they can hire their own TD's and put the emphasis on training and supporting the coaches. (Soccer has this model in Canada). Then these coaches can take their training and provide it to their players. It would be cost / time prohibitive to have the TD work with every team / every player on a daily basis; rather, equip and support the coaches so they can deliver their message to their players. Once the season (and this system) is well underway, the TD can target certain coaches / teams who are struggling; run 'camps' or 'skill academies' on a regular basis to help improve the basic skills and understanding of the players (and coaches as they could volunteer as on-ice helpers within this model.)

I see some organizations hire specialty people to come in - once or twice a year! - to present to a group, then leave. I have done this for organizations myself - with the hope they will bring me back to follow up. Many times, they don't do this! This is a stop-gap measure with very little long-term success. They need to recognize how important consistency is and have someone (or a few people) working with the same organization long-term.

Hopefully this development model will get turned around sooner rather than later... for the betterment of all of our kids and coaches!


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Booming hockey numbers proof NHL's Southern expansion paying dividends

The Canadian Press, 2012-01-27


This Oct. 10, 2011 photo shows young hockey players waiting for their time on the ice at the A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin, Tenn. The NHL's Southern strategy is paying dividends where children now dream of growing up to play in the NHL and win Olympic gold medals for the United States.


FRANKLIN, Tenn. - Children fill every bench and sprawl over the floor lacing up hockey skates, eager to hit the ice. Parents hold jackets and patiently wait. Just another typical Saturday morning at the rink.

Except this is the middle of Tennessee.

Atlanta may not be able to hold onto an NHL team, and ponds in the South are for fishing and swimming. But the league's Southern strategy is paying dividends where children now dream of playing in the NHL and winning Olympic gold medals.

Pat Kelleher said USA Hockey's membership has grown significantly in each of the Southern states where the NHL put teams.

"We've truly become a national sport," said Kelleher, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of membership development. "When the NHL expanded, I think that was part of their goal to have a national footprint and not just be in the Northeast or the upper Midwest but to cover the entire country. We benefited from that at USA Hockey because we have participants."

The numbers are growing all around the South—including in Georgia, where Atlanta lost the Thrashers to Winnipeg last summer.

Between 1998-99 and 2010-11, Colorado-based USA Hockey went from 911 members in Georgia to 2,287, an increase of 151 per cent.

North Carolina boomed to 170.5 per cent with a high of 5,812 players last year. Florida, which had about four ice rinks in the 1990s, now has 25 with players jumping from 5,606 to 11,571 (106.4 per cent).

Texas had 11,661 players this past year or 96.6 per cent more, while Tennessee had 2,573 this past season for 118.8 per cent jump.

USA Hockey's national membership is up 18.8 per cent in that span, and Kelleher said recently that USA Hockey has copied some of the outreach programs used in the South to target people in traditional hockey markets, helping the sport overall.

"More people have an opportunity to get on the ice, fall in love with the game and become fans," Kelleher said. "You're not quite at the generational level just yet down in Nashville, but there'll be a generation of kids who grew up playing hockey in Nashville thanks to the Predators.

"And they'll get their kids in it."

That's why the Predators work so hard with youth programs, which fill up in minutes. Sean Henry, Nashville's president and chief operating officer, said baseball has the right model with a grandparent putting a ball, bat or glove in a child's hand almost at birth.

"If you put a stick in a kid's hand, he's going to become a fan. His parents will follow," Henry said. "As he grows up, he will become a single-game buyer, mini-plan buyer, half-season, full-season-ticket holder, a suite holder or buy naming rights to a building someday. You just follow that 6-year-old right on through his life if you will. It's a very simple process."

Results are being seen both on the ice and at the box office.

The Nashville Junior Preds Mite Major team won the Silver Sticks hockey tournament in Ontario earlier this month outscoring the competition 63-7. The Predators honoured that team Monday night in a season where they are on franchise-record pace averaging 16,581 fans per game with 15 sellouts.

A Predators' game hooked Dana Johnson's son, Cody. She and her husband take turns driving 80 kilometres one-way from their home in Centerville, Tenn., so her 12-year-old son can play hockey in Franklin. He's now in his fourth season, and she credits the Predators' introductory four-week program offering free equipment with introducing them to the sport.

"He would've never gotten that opportunity because I would've never paid that kind of money up front to take a chance on a sport he may or may not like," Johnson said.

Hockey is an expensive sport with players needing lots of gear, from skates, sticks, hockey shorts, leggings, elbow and shoulder pads to neck protectors and helmets. Even buying used gear where available can add up to US$350, plus buying a bag to haul it all. Johnson prefers new equipment and estimates spending $800 using careful budgeting to help a son who chose hockey over baseball, football and basketball.

"This is his true love," she said.

Steve Sullivan, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, watched youth hockey grow from February 2004 when he joined the Predators. He held a week-long hockey camp at A-Game the past two summers with strong demand despite a $325 fee per player. Sullivan expects youth hockey to keep growing—if the local NHL keeps winning.

"No one wants to go see losers," Sullivan said. "I think the sport, especially in that area, is very depending on the organization. If there was no professional hockey team in Nashville, the interest level of the kids in youth hockey would drop dramatically. I definitely think they're tied together."

The Predators are doing their part, having reached the playoffs six of the past seven years and the Western Conference semifinals last season. At the all-star break, they are fifth in the West.

Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004 and lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2011. Carolina won the Cup in 2006 and Dallas in 1999, while Florida reached the finals in 1996.

Nashville's influence can be seen in at the A-Game Sportsplex hockey rinks any day of the week. But Tim McAllister, A-Game's director of ice and hockey operations, still finds people surprised to learn 16 Tennessee high schools play hockey. There are more than 300 children playing in A-Game's house and travel programs, skating in games as far away as Chicago and Detroit.

"We're seeing a lot of new kids coming into the program. A lot of new faces," McAllister said. "And we do our best to make sure we see the faces from last year, that they're coming back and playing again."


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Can Soccer Save The World?

Colin Whyte (RedCard), 27/01/2012



Whether you call it football, fútbol, calcio, soccer, or sakka, that sport you play using mainly your feet is the most popular one in the world.

Now this oft-touted claim by proponents of the game with chips on their shoulders can sometimes seem a bit like calling water "the most popular drink in the world," but within the claim lies an unusual power...

If kicking a round ball around — with specialized shoes or without, on a fancy turf field in Burnaby or in some trash-strewn alley in Burundi — constitutes the most popular sport in the world, maybe soccer can be the answer to some of the world's many problems. Maybe soccer can save the world...

From poverty in the developing world to literacy in the overdeveloped one, chances are there is a soccer-based charity devoted to almost any cause you can think of. There are literally thousands of them. Chris Singer, 39, runs a web project devoted to the very question posed by our title, cansoccersavetheworld.com, so we asked him: "After three months of research, it's too soon to give a definite ‘yes', although my heart would argue with that. However, I can definitely say that I'm not the only one who thinks so. I've featured almost 50 organizations so far and I'm just scratching the surface...


Some move the needle at mainstream with celebrity player endorsements while others are content to help a handful of folks in tangible ways rather than worrying about corporate fundraising, grabbing a million Facebook friends, or negotiating Carlos Tevez's ridiculous rider requests.


"The surprising, and most enlightening, part for me thus far is the diversity of the projects themselves. Whether it's building awareness on global social issues such as homelessness, homophobia or refugees (HWC, The Justin Campaign and Darfur United); empowering amputees (Passing Hope and Amateur Amputee Soccer Association); giving prisoners a second chance (Hope Academy); or changing the lives of underserved girls (JoLi Academy, Yuwa India, Girls and Football SA), it's clear to me there is definitely something about the beautiful game that mobilizes, motivates and inspires positive social change..."

Some of the social enterprises and non-profits a soccer lover with a big heart can find out there are ultra-local and will accept donations of used equipment as well as money to help at-risk youth or other, underserved populations. Others are truly global and use soccer as a primary tool or language to reach out to people in need. Some move the needle at mainstream with celebrity player endorsements while others are content to help a handful of folks in tangible ways rather than worrying about corporate fundraising, grabbing a million Facebook friends, or negotiating Carlos Tevez's ridiculous rider requests. Regardless of size or scope they have all tapped into soccer's universal potential. If you love the game and are sick of being a "ball hog" in real life, there's an org out there that'll ring your cherries, guaranteed. Singer's site is a great place to start -- and he has books planned as well.

To get a better handle on the grand scheme of soccer charity worldwide, we contacted three representative groups doing great work internationally: The Homeless World Cup; Uncharted Play, makers of the revolutionary sOccket ball; and Soccer Without Borders. We asked each group to expound on soccer's appeal when it comes to "giving back" putting to them the trillion dollar question: "Can Soccer (Actually) Save the World?" And, as we found out, these groups aren't just teaching poor kids how to do wicked step-overs or giving balls to impoverished communities -- they're intent on kicking society's many injustices to the curb.


Homeless World Cup

The Homeless World Cup is exactly what it sounds like: a World Cup for homeless people. Seriously. Operating since 2001 out of Edinburgh, Scotland and partnered with Street Soccer Canada domestically, the organisation is as radical as it sounds and boasts a truly impressive success rate of 70-percent -- meaning that seven out of 10 people engaged moved into homes, repaired key relationships etc. (i.e. they got off the bench and back out on the field). To the untrained eye, it might seem like the last thing the homeless guy at your bus stop needs is a pair of Sambas and the remainder of a 5-a-side team to play with, but HWC's big vision and practical methods yield results. Homelessness is an issue in every nation, from the richest in the West to the poorest in Africa, and the HWC has touched the lives of over 200,000 people since its inception. They don't just set goals -- they score them.

"Football is an international language that everybody can understand," explains Mel Young, President and cofounder. "Everybody can play it. We think that football is a perfect motivational tool to make homeless people get inspired and restart again: coming off drugs, alcohol; reuniting with their families, finding a job, getting back into education..."

The most recent iteration of the HWC took place in Paris in August and counted Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger among its most vocal supporters. Superstars Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand, and Emmanuel Petit are global ambassadors. The main tournament is held in a different country each year and 2012's will take place in October in Mexico City with 72 national teams competing, including a record 16 on the Women's side. It really is a world cup except the players are homeless rather than pulling up to the venue in paparazzi-flanked Ferraris.

In Kicking It, a documentary made at Cape Town '06, narrator Colin Farrell (yes, that Colin Farrell) captures the impetus behind the HWC well: "Is a roof over one's head, a place to call home, a sense of belonging and community a lot to ask? These basic human rights are a mere dream to over 1 billion homeless men and women of our planet. Too many of our own live on the fringes of acceptance, exist beyond the boundaries of societal respect, they are not without hope, often without help... Through the simple and beautiful game of football, the complex struggle to find meaning and purpose in life is being won..."


The main tournament is held in a different country each year and 2012's will take place in October in Mexico City with 72 national teams competing, including a record 16 on the Women's side.


By using soccer to energize the lives of homeless people worldwide, the HWC goes far beyond its flagship tournament with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness. Under their guidance, national partners help homeless people with needs ranging from legal help to employment, education and healthcare access. A Queen Margaret University researcher at the Paris 2011 tournament concluded that 97-percent of spectators agreed that the HWC "promoted good values" and 90-precent believed the event "broke down stereotypes about the homeless community." Ninety-two-percent of spectators agreed that the HWC "demonstrates how sport can make a difference."

http://www.homelessworldcup.org/



sOccket/Uncharted Play


The sOccket is a true game changer and the ultimate "lightbulb moment." Imagine a fully functional soccer ball that turns every shot, pass and header into stored electricity that can be used to power vital accessories like an LED lamp, a water purifier, a phone charger or a hot plate. (You might recharge with orange slices but they won't do much when it comes to lighting your home after dark...)

Here's the deal: In many regions of the world, access to electricity is patchy or nonexistent so people light their homes with kerosene lamps that spew noxious fumes. These fumes create the health equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes a day and are no treat for the atmosphere, either. Given that one in five people on the globe lives without electricity, indoor air pollution of this nature kills 1.6 million humans a year. The sOccket provides an answer that is deceptively simple, green, portable, and -- best of all -- fun. A gyroscopic mechanism inside rotates as the ball rolls, creating electricity from every possible axis of motion. The claim, "Man, she has a powerful corner kick" has never been truer...

Uncharted Play, Inc., maker of the flagship sOccket, is a for-profit benefit corporation with a separate 501(c)3 non-profit foundation. The New York-based company's mission is to: "Encourage people around the world to rethink the purpose of play and keep joy at the forefront of their lives. Life is short. Play more."

"The universal love of soccer made it the obvious choice for a powered by play portable generator," says Melissa Seligmann, VP Business Development, 26. "The inventors were not soccer players, but understood the universal love of the sport and the potential power... Although skeptics (and engineers!) initially believed the ball would not capture a useful amount of power, the sOccket team knew that the ability to harness even a little bit of energy could make a huge difference in the lives of billions around the globe who love soccer and live without electricity."

The sOccket has received props from Bill Clinton's CGI, with the former President saying of cofounder Jessica Matthews, "It's quite extraordinary, really... If ever there was an innovator, she's it."

TED didn't pull any punches: "An idea with revolutionary potential."

The sOccket requires no inflation, is water resistant and has a lifespan of three years, whereas a normal ball might last six weeks in the kind of rough ground that passes for a "soccer field" in most of the world. Testing took place in three African nations and, early this year, 2500 of the newest generation sOcckets will make their way to Haiti, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica. The group partners with reputable NGOs in developing areas for distribution and funds that distribution by two models: "Buy One, Give One" (B1G1, think TOMS Shoes) and corporate sponsorships.


The sOccket provides an answer that is deceptively simple, green, portable, and -- best of all -- fun. A gyroscopic mechanism inside rotates as the ball rolls, creating electricity from every possible axis of motion.


"Our ‘end users' are children in resource-poor communities as they are often most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of ‘energy poverty,'" explains Seligmann. "The initial response is pure joy – and that is before they even know there is anything different about the ball. Just to have a real, spherical, honest-to-God ball is a blessing in itself... With a little extra electricity, children can spend a bit more time on school work after dark without having to expose themselves to dangerous power alternatives. Additionally, the sOccket concept illustrates for kids that imagination has a place in our world today; we hope that the ball will inspire youth the world over to think creatively about how to address the challenges in their own communities through innovation."

(UP's other genius solutions in the R&D pipeline include fashion accessories that address malnutrition, energy-grabbing bouncy shoes and video games that deal with real-world social injustices.)

Besides lighting up major press outlets, including CNN, and a surge of awards, the still-newish sOccket is supported by world football's brightest stars: David Villa, Dani Alves, Kun Aguero, Thomas Müller, Julie Foudy et al. It even gets support from The Roots so the "cool factor" is proper. If you ever wondered just how feasible the notion of soccer saving the world could be, the sOccket is staring you right in the face, begging to be kicked. Fun can be functional!

http://www.soccket.com/


Soccer Without Borders

Soccer Without Borders is, in some ways, the quintessential footy charity. The group uses the power and language of the beautiful game to reach beyond the field of play and change lives, one at a time.

"While there are many positive sporting experiences, soccer is the most universally accessible," says Mary McVeigh, Executive Director, 30. "At its most basic level, it offers playing opportunities that are low-cost, physically beneficial, inclusive and enjoyable. Soccer also enjoys worldwide popularity, making it the perfect platform from which to develop physically, socially, and individually. [SWB] believes that the potential of soccer to make change is deeper than simply playing the game. Rather, our programs are built around the philosophy that soccer's interpersonal environment has unique potential to meaningfully impact participants..."

SWB concerns itself with giving under-served youth a kind of toolkit they might not otherwise have access to. Many kids who are traditionally excluded from team sports also miss out on the personal growth that comes from "digging deep," working with others, getting fit -- and even occasionally receiving the singular epiphany of a frozen ball in the face. The group works internationally and is headquartered in the US and current programs focus on refugees, immigrants, girls, and indigenous youth.

"SWB responds to the varying community needs and available human/physical resources by leaving space within our program structure to provide resources, programs, and services specific to the target population and local culture," explains McVeigh.

The group's programs have helped young people in North America, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Uganda and elsewhere -- with success stories aplenty. In '09, a Granada participant was named to U-20 Nicaraguan Women's National Team and a NYC refugee participant from Liberia went on to college. SWB Nicaragua recently won the Girl Effect Challenge, hosted by the Nike Foundation and Global Giving, becoming one of 12 featured Girl Effect programs for 2012.

"SWB programs are at least 50-percent soccer [with] the other portion made up of team-building, civic engagement, lessons/workshops, and culture exchange..." says McVeigh. "While playing the game recreationally has its benefits, SWB aims for age-appropriate instruction that builds skills on the field and off, and provides a sense of identity and community..."


The group works internationally and is headquartered in the US and current programs focus on refugees, immigrants, girls, and indigenous youth.


The group keeps coach/player ratios low, requires player contracts for attendance and behavior, and engages parents and local leaders as well. Whatever it takes, right?

http://www.soccerwithoutborders.org


So Now What?


Soccer's pace and inherent production values might not always compete well with the NFL or NBA on TV, and the sport's haters in north America are a loud -- if shrinking -- group, but the powerful platform offered by a sport with such a global appeal and low barrier to entry is undeniable. (As comedian Daniel Tosh famously pointed out: "It costs a ball.") We have no research to back this up yet, in recent history, we'd bet only beer and smiling have broken the ice on more international friendships than "the beautiful game." Soccer might not "save the world" anytime soon but, thanks to organizations like these, the game is helping to make it more livable for millions of people every day and giving injustice the red card.

The non-profits and social enterprises examined here are meant only as representative samples of all the good work being done in the world today using soccer as a platform. A cup of coffee and 10 minutes on Google will yield other excellent groups that mesh with your own philanthropic values, politics, geographic soft spots etc.


Further Reading:

Right to Play: Based in Toronto and operating worldwide, Right to Play is behind the famous "red ball" and is the leading org, "using the transformative power of sport and play to build essential skills in children and thereby drive social change in communities affected by war, poverty and disease."

Grassroot Soccer has a vision of a world mobilized through soccer to create an AIDS free generation. The group has already graduated half a million youth participants through its programs and their site has incredible results tracking and transparency.

Kick It Out is soccer's inclusion and equality campaign. If you follow the international game, this year has seen huge strides when it comes to on-field racism, and Kick It Out has played a big part.

Pelada is not an organization but a great documentary about the community-building power of the beautiful game. Two former college stars set off on a journey, chasing this notion: "From prisoners in Bolivia to moonshine brewers in Kenya, from freestylers in China to women who play in hijab in Iran, Pelada is the story of the people who play."


Dean
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Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

   
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American goaltenders making presence felt

ERIC DUHATSCHEK, Globe and Mail, Jan. 27, 2012



He played college hockey for the University of Massachusetts, and in the dorms, whenever Jonathan Quick and his roommates turned on television, there wasn’t a lot of viewing options.

“But one channel we did get was NESN,” said Quick, the all-star goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings, “and it was right when Tim Thomas just came into the league. So I watched him quite a bit and what sticks out mostly about his game is that it’s a little unorthodox. He doesn’t play similar to many goalies in the league, but one thing he does better than probably anybody is the way he competes to stop the pucks, the way he fights to see pucks and how he finds a way to get in front of them.”

So if there is a little bit of Thomas in Quick’s emerging game, well, he comes by it honestly. The Boston Bruins veteran is the reigning Vézina Trophy winner, the most valuable player of last year’s Stanley Cup final and, politics aside, the starting goaltender in this weekend’s NHL all-star game in Ottawa. Thomas is also at the forefront of a quiet but discernible trend in the United States: the development of high-end goaltenders.

Three of the six goalies chosen to play in the 2012 NHL all-star game are American-born: Thomas (Flint, Mich.), Quick (Milford, Conn.) and Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y.) of the Detroit Red Wings.

U.S. manufacturing may be having a tough time of it elsewhere, but the U.S. goaltending factory is churning them out almost as fast as the world leaders, Finland.

Consider that this year, Thomas, Quick and Howard are in the top 10 in all four major goaltending categories – goals-against average, wins, save percentage and shutouts, with Howard tops in wins and Quick first in shutouts.

Craig Anderson (Park Ridge, Ill.) of the Ottawa Senators is tied for third in wins; the Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) of the Vancouver Canucks is sixth in save percentage and a rising star; Ryan Miller (East Lansing, Mich.) of the Buffalo Sabres was the men’s MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics, won the 2010 Vézina Trophy and is a perennial all-star having an off-season.

There are others who’ve had NHL successes before injuries set them back (Al Montoya and Rick DiPietro, for example); and there are some good ones coming in (Jack Campbell and John Gibson, who were most recently seen with the U.S. world junior team).

Quick’s teammate in Los Angeles, defenceman Jack Johnson, says the crease is one area where his country approaches Canada in terms of overall depth.

“You think of the last Olympics, Thomas and Miller and Quick,” Johnson said. “I thought all three were awesome goalies. A lot of people talk about the depth of the American hockey team when you put together an Olympic team and there’s not the kind of players you have with Team Canada, where you have about 60. But it’s different in goal. I wish I had a good answer as to why, but it’s a nice luxury to have.”

What sets Quick and Thomas apart from most goaltenders is that neither is a true butterfly-style player. Rather, they play a hybrid style, closer to the old-school stand-up approach than to the modern drop-and-drape that secures the bottom of the net but leaves the top corners open. Quick says he plays the way he does because in college, the emphasis was less on technique and more on competing and battling.

“If you look at some of the top goalies now – and I think you have to look at Thomas first – that’s something that he does really well, he competes well and never gives up on a puck,” Quick said. “Then, when I came to this organization, I’ve been working with [former goalies] Billy Ranford and Kim Dillabaugh, and they brought the technical part into my game. It’s something that’s helped me out tremendously.”

According to Anderson, many of the U.S. goaltenders – Quick excepted – fell into the late-bloomer category, players who waited a long time before somebody gave them a chance to be a starter in the NHL.

“For me, it was just finding a good fit,” Anderson said. “I had some success in Colorado by getting an opportunity to play a string of games. I never had the opportunity before.

“Obviously, Quick came into an L.A. situation where they were young and they said, ‘Here you go, here’s the ball, run with it.’ And he took off with it. Obviously, Thomas was one of the better goalies in Europe and came back and got the opportunity with Boston and he’s run with it. It’s guys making the most of their opportunities,” he said. “Opportunistic Americans, I guess.”

Many of the top goaltenders in recent NHL history, including six-time Vézina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek, could charitably be called unorthodox. Their mantra and main goal: stop the puck, no matter how. It is a lesson Quick absorbed. He knows how much momentum can switch in a game from a big save.

“You’re playing a position where you don’t move outside a five-foot radius, so you don’t have too much control over a lot of areas of the game,” Quick said, “but when the puck does get shot at you, you have complete control over that, and that’s something where your teammates can feed off the energy that you could bring to the game. You making a save that you shouldn’t make, whatever it is, I think it helps them out.”

As for playing in the 2012 all-star game, where he is the only Kings representative, Quick says he is looking forward to the experience.


Dean
M.Ed (Coaching)
Ch.P.C. (Chartered Professional Coach)
Game Intelligence Training

"Great education depends on great teaching."

   
Active Member
Registered: 08/05/09
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Location: Calgary AB Canada
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