"Without a doubt, this pandemic has been a challenge unlike anything we have ever experienced. Not being on the field together has, more than ever, required us as individuals to be self-starters, to be ambitious in our efforts, committed to each other and our own development as players and coaches, respectful of age-old principles like hard work, and unified as an LFC family."
-Andy Wagstaff, LFCIA Michigan President
Reprinted with Permission from LFC International Academy:
As organised football steadily returns across our International Academies, we can all look back on this period of instability with great pride in the collaborative response to this huge challenge.
Since the beginning of 2020, lockdown restrictions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic have had a profound impact on all LFC International Academy staff, players and parents.
The activities our Academies provided have varied in content and delivery, leading to an unprecedented level of engagement and interaction between players and the club. This has been demonstrated by nearly a million people viewing content on social media, over 1,500 videos submitted by players and participation from youngsters in over 40 countries.
The Individual Training Program (ITP) was developed by the LFC International Academy staff in Liverpool and involved the filming of content at locations around the world. This provided a structured and cohesive training program for all LFC International Academy players, delivered by regional head coaches across the globe.
“Parents have loved the quality and variety of content, while the ITP has helped the players feel more connected with their teammates and Liverpool FC in a time of isolation,” Ben Jones, YDP technical director, LFCIA Michigan Central Site, said.
“Working with LFC staff and having the material come directly from the club has made this program authentic.
“Our coaches have been able to stay in touch, provide some structure during this challenging time away from the field and keep the players learning and developing.”
The program included tactical, technical and physical challenges, analysis tasks and nutritional advice, ensuring our players continued to train The Liverpool Way during the period of isolation.
In addition to these tasks, our players used the time to continue their education in the rich background of LFC with access to view and reflect on some of the most historical moments in the club’s history.
Content across the ITP was broken down into sections covering ‘watch, analyse, practise and challenge’ with the likes of individual skill and ball manipulation demonstration videos, fitness and injury prevention activities and skills challenges.
Each LFC head coach was responsible for the specific programming of the schedule of content to ensure it was structured and delivered appropriately for each group of players.
David Ridler, head coach at LFCIA Egypt, said: “The response from players has been incredible. Their commitment to LFC and our values has been a real positive during this difficult time.
“The players have adapted and we have received hundreds of videos where the players are demonstrating their dedication to the skills challenges and the fitness program, which means we can be confident returning to team practice and matches so we can pick up where we left off.
“It’s been important for our coaches that we have been able to continue the players’ development and education, and the ITP has enabled us to do this. Overcoming challenges with dedication and commitment is The Liverpool Way.”
The video above, which has now been viewed over half a million times on social media, is a fantastic demonstration of unity across our academies. Over 300 personal videos were submitted by our players, each narrating the famous lyrics of our anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Dan White, head of Liverpool FC’s International Academy program globally, commented: “During challenging times, the dedication and commitment from both the coaches and players has been inspiring.
“We have managed to create content that allows our players to continue their development while team training and matches have been cancelled and at all times ensure it is authentic and consistent with our principles and values.
“We have worked hand-in-hand with the coaches delivering the ITP to ensure they are supported through the process. To see so many great examples of players working on their game is a great credit to them, their parents and the staff at our coaching programmes around the world.
“The You’ll Never Walk Alone video is something we are all extremely proud of as it brilliantly demonstrates the passion in the players and just what it means for them to be part of Liverpool FC.”