Lessons learned from Riga Cup

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LESSONS LEARNED FROM RIGA CUP

Rolf Hansen 12.02.2019

NF Academy’s U13, U14 and U15 teams meet international top resistance during the winter’s Riga Cup.

After the 2018 season, NF Academy started up team training in Oslo and Bergen. The training camps became an east team and a west crew. This is intended as a selection measure for players who need extra challenges in their training day. Over 4-5 gatherings, the teams have prepared for the winter’s big goals.

Riga Cup in the Latvian capital.

NF Academy brought two teams in both the U13, U14 and U15 classes. This year the opposition was stronger than last, with top international clubs. In other words, you meet teams that have trained several sessions weekly over several years, where the clubs have selected the squad they believe is in the best shape to claim the attractive Riga cup.

Together with the Torneio Internacional in North Portuguese Coelho Verde, the Riga Cup is one of the most attractive youth football tournaments for European top clubs.

In Riga, you meet the part of Europe that does not go to Portugal in the summer, so in total, NF Academy has met, in the last six months, most of Europe’s best crew at least at the 2006 level.

In other words – here you have the chance to develop as a player, and get valuable references on what it takes to to beat the best in Europe.

U13 met European top teams

In Riga, solid opposition awaited both NF Academy West East.

The NF West team ended up in group with Crystal Palace, Latvian RFS and Finnish FC Espoo. Again they won against the Latvians and the loss against the other two teams, where especially Crystal Palace excelled as a robust and experienced team. They finished in third place in group A.

For the East crew there was a similar experience initially. Loss for group winners Birmingham and Tallina Kalev while winning against the local Skonto academy. Again, the British team was clearly interacting, good at virtually all the stages of the game, with more robust players. They too got to third place in the group stage.

It is of course challenging to meet teams that train together every single week. We are a group, where 80 percent of us have trained together over 4-5 weekend gatherings. Therefore, it is expected to be slightly nervous on the start of the tournament. However, the players have had a good development from match to match, says team leader and coach for NF Academy East, Guilherme Faria

Thus, both NF Academy’s teams ended up in the placement to play outside the playoff round where the two best teams in each of the four groups were playing.

Here the tournament map was put together so that the two group trainers in the A and B group met each other in the first placement match. NF Academy West won, and played on 9th place on Sunday. NF Academy East played for the 11th place.

NF Academy West won its last match against Latvian Metta, as well as NF Academy East, who played against FC Real Pro.

It has been a good tournament for us. Players have had a good development, where we have seen progress both mentally, tactically and individually technicality, says team leader and coach Ricardo Damas for NF Academy West

The impressions you are left with after such a tournament are of course more. Most importantly, the references the players get to take the next step in their own development.

It was good to see how our two teams have evolved through the tournament. Both as a team and for the players, there has been progress from match to match. It is important for the players’ development to face opposition that is as high as this. As a team we met teams that are well organized, from another culture, and with different approaches to the game. Perhaps not the most well-known teams, but solid collective with a focus on developing top players. This is a good experience to take along, says sports director at NF Academy Gonçalo Nunes.

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