Playermaker: Building the football philosophy at the most decorated club in Israel: Maccabi Tel Aviv

Patrick van Leeuwen was brought into Maccabi Tel Aviv to turn the youth department and academy into one of the best in the world and to ensure that the club’s footballing philosophy was represented at all ages.

Patrick recognised that the PlayerMaker system was the right tool to help him achieve this goal and started working with the PlayerMaker team to embed the technology at the club.

The PlayerMaker support team worked with every coach to show them how to make the most of the data that PlayerMaker captures and now the system is used across the club at every training session.

Ilan Richardson, Head of Sports Science, oversees the data collection and analysis. Using a mix of PlayerMaker’s own software and its integration capabilities with other systems, Ilan is able to see how players are progressing over time as well as a get a more complete understanding about whether teams are hitting their goals for training sessions.

As every player is examined individually and all of their physical and technical data is captured through the motion sensors, Ilan is able to set benchmarks for each team based on average player performance. If a player is struggling to reach the benchmarks, coaches are able to quickly recognise where they are having issues and work with them to correct and improve. When the brightest players exceed the benchmarks, they can be identified and moved on a level, ensuring their progress through the club towards the first team.

For a professional academy, we need to rely on more than just the views of the coaching staff. When you play at the top level, you need additional data and PlayerMaker ensures we have all the physical and technical data we need.

Patrick van Leeuwen
Performance Director, Maccabi Tel Aviv FC

 

For Patrick, PlayerMaker goes a step beyond just aiding in player development. It helps give him a holistic view about how the academy is performing, allowing him to make sure that the footballing philosophy of Maccabi Tel Aviv is being embraced by his entire staff.

 

Solutions used

01.

Technical Analysis

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Tactical Analysis

03.

Physical Analysis

MEGA INTERVIEW: Patrick van Leeuwen about Maccabi Tel Aviv FC Academy philosphy!

VAN LEEUWEN: GOLDHAR’S INVESTMENT WILL REPAY ITSELF
Maccabi’s Youth Department Manager in an interview: “Israeli football doesn’t value talent”, “There was difficulty in embedding a way to people who are certain they know more”, “without facilities we will not make progress”.

By Raz Amir, ONE

Patrick Van Leeuwen didn’t come from a footballing family. In a home of three boys, he was the only one who chose the beautiful game as his way of life. His path began like many Dutch kids who chose football, he joined an amateur club, was fortunate to be talented enough and joined Sparta Rotterdam at the age of 16. He played there for eight years, advanced to the senior side and played for the first team, but during his growing up, began picking up injury after injury and understood he must start thinking about the day after football. So at the age of only 21, he had an A license to coach football which he received at the Sports Academy in Holland. The injuries led him to leave Sparta after 8 years and go down to the second division where he played for two more years before retiring at the young age of 27.
When he ended his playing career, one of his friends who was working at Feynoord, invited him to join him and start his coaching career. For a decade he had coached at the lucrative Dutch club, moved on between the various age groups until the Head of the Academy he had worked for, was appointed at Shakhtar Donetsk. He joined him and after 18 months, replaced him as the Head of the academy of the Ukrainian club which recently purchased Manor Solomon for EUR 6m. At the end of a 7-year-period he made a career change in favour of a Sports Director at Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan, but the foundations for his arrival at Maccabi Tel Aviv were created in Ukraine.
During his time in Ukraine, Jordi Cruyff joined Metalurh Donetsk as the duo used to meet 3-4 times a week, to talk about football and life. Jordi connected with Patrick instantly and kept good and close contact with him even when he moved to Malta, Cyprus and later on Israel. In 2015, Mitch Goldhar and Jack Angelides approached Cruyff and asked him for recommendations on candidates to manage the Youth Department, The first name presented to them was Van Leeuwen. Several months later, Maccabi Tel Aviv decided to go for the move and replace Nir Levin with a foreign professional and the CEO at the time, Martin Bain, invited Van Leeuwen for an impression.
He visited Israel earlier on several occasions. He even watched the Tel Aviv derby alongside Jordi Cruyff, and when Maccabi’s Sports Director was asked at the time who is the guest, he said it is a friend of his from Kairat who is working as a Sports Director there. No one imagined that within a certain period of time, and after the impression following Bain’s invite, the revolution at the Yellow Youth Department will take place and in June 2016 he was appointed as Maccabi’s Performance Director. His contract was recently extended till 2020. He will complete four full years at the club, at least, and will try during his term to embed his ideas. Some of which were not so easily accepted at first, but Van Leeuwen is certain: “Maccabi’s Youth Department would repay Mitch Goldhar’s massive investment in it”.
How difficult was it to convince you to come to Israel?
“To be honest it wasn’t that hard. I was in Israel on several occasions as part of my contact with Jordi. I watched a derby here, I was invited over once by Bain to give my opinion on the Youth Department. I saw Maccabi Tel Aviv before signing my contract here. I knew where I was coming to”.
How do you define your journey in Israeli football o far?
“I know that when you are invited to go somewhere, this invitation comes with clear instructions. I knew in advance that what is my role and what I am expected to do. We agreed in advance not only my contract, but the way in which I am going to work. The club agreed with me and the first steps were very swift. I wanted to make an immediate change, with a clear plan, something which hasn’t been done in Israeli before, and from the experience I gained in recent years of building academies. It wasn’t easy to embed the plan, and it wasn’t easy to convince more than 50% of the people that something needs to be changed, we were facing difficulties with some of the people who were working for the academy but OK, it happens everywhere, certainly when all those people think they know better than you, but now we are at a place where after three years we have a system. Everyone knows what to do. Everyone knows what are our demands on and off the pitch. We are trying to strengthen every year. To add new things to our training program, or new things outside our training plan for our coaches and our players”.
One of the things you changed quickly was the discipline. Is this a decision you came with “from home”. Why?
well, from my conversations with Jordi about Israeli football, many issues dealt with discipline of players and teams. This is basic in my opinion. A football player must have discipline, this is where it all begins. The coach as well. Surely if you want to work at a professional academy. Everyone must understand we need to head in one direction and we must do it together. I can’t do everything by myself, I need to receive assistance from the coaches and for the players to cooperate. Discipline is essential and alongside that results would come”.
Do you think you managed to meet this target and transform this academy into a disciplined one?
“We are certainly heading in the right direction, we are constantly aiming at adding players to the first team, we have two players who are training with them today – in Daniel Peretz (goalkeeper) and Eden Kartzev. And we also have many players from the previous generation who are playing in the first team. In recent years many players were training with the first team. So for me that means that we are successful, because in order to reach the first team you require the basic football foundations, technique, discipline, tactical discipline and many players today have a real chance to play football at professional level and in my opinion we have many players who are on the right path to reach the first team eventually. There is no doubt that the success of the youth department players depend a lot on the coaches and the coaching staff but also on their parents at home and the personal mentality of each and every one of the players”.
On the disciplinary issue – do you consider yourself as a tough character?
“No. This is what everyone says. I am tough. I am a rules type. I think that if I chose a path, I must follow it. I have a clear opinion on how things must be and it is not just for one team but for the entire academy teams. From the age of 8 until 19. It is not about being tough it is about obtaining a philosophy that in my eyes one must follow”.
We are sitting here in the middle of the International Youth tournament which Maccabi Tel Aviv have organised, and this is something great for the club, so what does it in fact give the club at international level?
“well, this is a beginning of something international. There are many clubs in Europe that don’t travel to Israel that easily. The two foreign teams we brought here last season (Bayer Leverkusen and Red Star Paris) and the teams we brought here this season (Crystal Palace and Excelsior) have many questions. Every time something happens in Israel for someone who is living here it is a minor issue, but for them this is something major. We are still at an early stage, this is very important for Israeli football at youth level, for Maccabi it is important to build a culture of international tournaments as such. We could have easily participated in such tournaments abroad, but we want these teams to come to Israel. We saw last year how the local clubs enjoyed themselves, the foreign clubs enjoyed themselves and therefore we wanted to continue this season as well. We have plans to add other teams from different age groups to future tournaments, and include U17’s and maybe even U15’s – so we are considering to expand our spread. As far as our club is concerned, it is important that our kids will play at a different environment, these three days will include five matches for each team, playing against different systems when they are both fresh and tired. This is the concept which is being done in Europe on a regular basis, but sadly not in Israel, so we are hoping that other clubs will get motivated to organise such tournaments in the future”.
What are the reactions when you invite clubs to arrive for a tournament in Israel?
“Everyone shows interest, if you then look at the clubs which visit here they are from Europe or Eastern Europe. The climate in Israel in January is something unique and a different and for them it is appealing to come here. This is a period where quite a few leagues have yet to begin their second part of the season, so for them it is obviously very appealing to arrive here and create some sort of a short ‘winter training camp’, face clubs which play in different tactics, different attitudes, taste cultures they don’t usually know, and return with a positive attitude to their leagues”.
Is this something which in your eyes contributes to the development of players at this age?
“It definitely contributes. Especially in the situation in Israel where you don’t have U21 teams, so a player who ended the youth age group his next encounter against international teams could only take place if he makes it into the first team. Any international experience a player could gain outside the national teams, before he reaches the first team – is welcome. It helps their development. This is what we are looking to offer all the clubs taking part in this tournament”.
How does the life of an academy player look any different in comparison to the time before you arrived?
“One of the things I am aiming for, is to give the coach and the player a clear pattern in which he can work at. A way. I want them to know exactly how the training session is going to be, when is the session, so it will be in their heads every moment that today I must be in training at a certain designated time, whether that be in the morning or in the afternoon. I want them to think in advance before they arrive in training, on what they might expect to happen in training and conduct themselves accordingly throughout the day either in school or in the army, and obviously receive assistance from the parents who will assist the kids in turning into becoming a football player at club level. This is our project. It is open, it is clear, it consists of a football philosophy which gives the child a clear guideline to life alongside his life at his family cell and at school”.
Do you a scenario where the parents disrupt the kid’s career?
“It happened in the beginning of my time here. Yes. In Holland we say that there is a different wind. Today the parents understand this at the academy. We want the assistance of the parents. We want them to ensure their child arrives in training on time, we want them to ensure that he is ready for training and in the rest of the time we hope they enjoy the fact their child is playing football. This is what we expect of the parents. We don’t need tactical advise from the parents. We don’t need technical advice from the parents. Obviously there are certain situation when the parents think they know better than the coach or the management, but OK, this is only a small proportion. This is no longer big problems for us”.
What in your mind does a child need most when he is at an academy age?
“As soon as you insert discipline and as soon as what you want to achieve from football is very clear and understood, it obviously really helps the Israeli player. Talent, these kids have. I am always surprised not only with the kids at Maccabi, but with other clubs. There is a decent level here, but at the same time, I don’t think that the football world really values the talent of those kids and I don’t think that it wants to invest too much in that. What the national team displays, needs to be more stable. Because I see a small country, but I don’t see that it falls short of the talent in the Ukraine for instance where the population is 5-6 times bigger. One needs to grow more talented players here, and it begins with an investment that clubs need to place not only in the salaries of the coaches and the players but also the facilities”.
In the past, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s academy consisted of more teams, at all ages, and one of the things which you changed was to narrow the scale, cancel the effect of a ‘a pastime’ and transform it into something more organised, focused on finding the talented players. What led to that? Did you feel that the conduct was not professional?
“First we didn’t close that many teams. What we did was to try and change things into more professional. In my view at the age of 16 one should start working with the players and begin preparing them for the first team, but until they reach the age of 16 we must ensure we are pointing them in the right direction. It can’t begin at the age of 16 One of the most difficult rules for Israeli football, is that we have a situation where a club is not protected when it comes to kids until they reach the age of 15. The meaning is that if you are not doing a good job, every one of those kids could at the age of 15 to walk away “quarantine”, but we are trying to change this and start the good work with kids from the age of 7-8, as we are working to connect them to the club. To the club’s philosophy and its structure, so that they remain for as long as possible, at Maccabi Tel Aviv. This is the difference in my eyes between us and other clubs. Our academy does a lot for the kids inside the football world, but also the club does a lot for them outside football in terms of the environment which surrounds them. We give them a lot of help with video clips, with mental coaches, with education, so we focus not only in football but actually in giving them the complete package in order to give them the chance to become professional football players besides the fact they understand they must put in the effort in their education so they would be covered at both ends”.
What are the advantages of the Israeli kid as a footballer?
“I think that technically there is a talent of a high level. But, there are tactical aspects which are missing, and I connect that directly to how the leagues are structured from a young age. So if I compare this to Holland or Germany, where from the age of 7 the football and the leagues are structured, it gives them a better head-start and an advantage over the Israeli kid who begins his path in organised football at a later stage. Israeli football for ids must start in an organised manner with organised matches, at a younger age. Those matches improves the kids and makes them better. And here they try first and foremost what will be more comfortable for the club”.
Is it possible to make a kid more tactically aware?
“In every moment you let a kid play football, he must play in a certain position. As a club, you have the responsibility, at a young age, not to focus the kid on one position only, but to let him play in several positions to allow him develop his feelings with regards to all positions and then comes the moment, around the age of 14, where you can clearly see in what direction is the child developing. Is he a defensive player, a midfielder or a forward”.
When we see the national teams and the Israeli clubs on the international circuit, it is clear to all that one of the Israeli players’ biggest problems is mentality. We see the breaking point at those moments. Especially in the national team. This is something which begins at a younger age, but is this possible ‘to coach’ the mental side of kids?
“You can explain in advance to every kid what problems he might encounter in his future career. This is what we are trying to do. We are trying to prepare these kids to every situation. We have a collaboration with Ofer Ronen the club’s spokesman who explains to them that in the current world there is social media and media and how they influence, we are also working with mental coaches. First with the teams and then it filters down to the personal level that a mental coach is attached to a player, and when we feel that there is a need or desire to support the player. For example. A tournament like we are playing in now, with many games in a three-day-period, will only assist the player. Because most of the mistakes and most of the problems are during a game, and pop-up when the player gets tired or angry or when the coach replaces him”.
What was your main target when you arrived at Maccabi and has it changed since?
“My initial target was to structure an academy of European level. This is where I was aiming for. We don’t want to compete only in Israel but also abroad. We all knew that building an academy which supplied players to the first team is a process which takes two to three years. Now we are at a situation where the foundations are here, the talent is here at every age group, so from now on it depends on us to develop it and add new ideas and new things, in order to intensify the development process. We are at a stage where we have the organisation, we have the coaching staffs, we have the talented players and we hope that the club would make the final step and improve the training facilities, because this is something which could stop the development of a football academy and prevent you from breaking the glass ceiling you reached. The next step for Maccabi Tel Aviv is to improve its level of facilities. We can’t fit in more training sessions at this stage. We reached our maximum”.
Did you encounter any difficulties working with Israelis?
“I must admit that in Eastern Europe, the mentality is different. They more ‘walk after you’. One of the things which someone told me was, that “in Israel we are taught to be creative”. For me this answer means that we are simply heading in a certain direction, where people had their personal influence. I am tough, he is soft, and we create a difference by our different attitude of every professional we have. Look, we have the talented players or the ones which were targeted as those who could go a long distance. Some of them are defenders, which requires a different attitude and a different work. Some of them are midfielders, which requires us to give them different things. In the end, our aim is to send as many players to the first team. We need to reach a stage where our youth team has 6-8 players who are candidates to reach the first team, so when the first team coach approaches me and says ‘I need a left back’, we must make sure that a left back is ready at the academy or was raised at the academy and now plays for our B side”.
Every player likes to score goals. Every kid dreams about being the next Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. How do you take a kid and tells him ‘Listen, you are not Mesi or Ronaldo. You are a good left back. You are a good centre back’ and convince him to follow you?
“This is something you are working on from an early age. You must give every player a chance to play in range of positions. Let him be a left winger, but also a left back. Give him the experience. When he grows up, specific characteristics would stick out and not only to the coaches but also to the kid himself One would understand that he is a tough central defender, and the other would understand that he is a talented midfielder. This is what we are working on and as soon as we need to change his position to a specific one, then we do it. Obviously we have various debates for example with wingers who say for instance ‘I am left footed, I am comfortable playing on the right’ ok but we have our idea on how the team must play and how the kid must be integrated in it. We are trying to convince him and explain to him what are his qualities at this system. And in the end, we are hoping that our work plan will supply a player who is tactically ready, that he is mentally ready, and if the coach has a specific task for him which he wasn’t used to do at the academy, he could still make a quick adaptation and deliver the goods”.

Part 2.
One of the best ever age groups of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth department of late was the year of Dor Micha and Mounes Dabbur. One of the things they do best, is their movement off the ball. They are very smart in their game. Is this something which you are trying to focus on in the academy today?
We are focusing on that as well, of course. We teach our kids that there is that there is only one ball and 22 players on the pitch. Everyone has to move without the ball. We are teaching that, so they’d know where to move and if they happen to be free, then to know how to stay free. Our forward players we try and teach when they must reach the right area at the right moment, because this is one of the most important things. To run forward is good, but you need to know when to run. We are working on that with everyone. We want everyone to be able to initiate. If the right-back sees an opportunity to go forward, we want him to know how to do so together with the midfielder ahead of him or for an attacking player to capture the position of the full back in the event he goes forward and is an a further position up the pitch right now”.
One of the points of criticism of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth department in recent years was that it allowed its big talents to slip away. If we look at the first team now, about leading players like Eli Dasa and Omer Atzili belonged to Maccabi’s youth department, left and were later bought for millions of shekels. How do you prevent something like that happening as Performance Director?
“We can prevent that from happening only if we conduct an open discussion with the players and their parents, to tell them in advance what we are trying to achieve from them and with them. The second thing is that we must ensure that a situation where a parent wants to influence everything, will not happen because parents must understand that they have no influence on the footballing abilities of the child. At the end of the day, every club reaches a situation where a player will stay based on the negotiation talks over his contract. We try to prepare for that and reach a stage where we sit with the player and tell him ‘We think that you are talented, you have a future, you will receive a contract now which will not get your family to live wealthy from now on, but you will receive from us a benefit which mirrors what we see in you’. I am sure that in my time, we will lose players because sometimes you are pushed to a corner you don’t want to be in. You must think of the collective. If I have 25 players in the team, and one creates a problem, we must ensure the remaining 24 are on the right track. It could lead to us losing one talented player, there is no shame in that, especially when you want to go and a clear direction where everyone know what are our demands”.

What are the differences between a training session an 8 year old must receive, and the ones of a 16 year old?
“The big difference is that kids at the age of 7-8 must make mistakes. They need to make mistakes in order to understand football. When they are 16, we are aiming for them to make as little mistakes as possible. This is probably the most significant change. An 8 year old kid can make the same 5-6 mistakes, but with a 16 year old we want to see him make as many as one or to mistakes. They must know how to get out of their mistake and in fact need to know more. This is why I claim that kids of 8 years need to play as many positions as possible. To be able to know how to defend, how to play in midfield, how to attack. It will only help them make les mistakes in the future”.
You created a new system for players under the age of 21, which is to go on loan and receive playing minutes mostly in the second division. This season Maccabi is extremely successful and that is a lot due to the players who returned from loan spells. Do you believe that the decision to open B teams in the second division next season will be good for Israeli football?
“I really hope that this is what will happen. This is something which is missing in Israeli football. The statistic shows that many players between the age of 18-21 leave the game because they don’t get a chance to play. Not everyone is picked for the first team at this age and also not to teams in the second division and we lose many players in these ages. If I look at Maccabi, of the players we had on loan in recent years and returned to Maccabi or moved to another team, this is something which we should also work on. Personally I believe that one should work with those players within your club so that you’d be able to influence the player, to keep him in the same culture, the same style of play, instead of sending him on loan somewhere else where is a different way. We were fortunate to have a lot of interest in our players from Beitar Tel Aviv Ramle, and we opted for them to play together, and that is why in recent years we had 8-10 players sent on loan there together”.
What is the ideal route for a player who reaches the age of 19?
“For me – Maccabi B’/ Maccabi B’ in the second division. When you send a player on loan, he is no longer connected with the first team and a player at the age of 18-21, is someone who could put pressure on another player in the first team. But, on the other hand, it is very difficult for an 18 old player to leave an impression on a coach and convince him to keep him in the first team. This is why, when he stays within your system, ie Maccabi B’, you keep giving him the right framework and the chance to play for you but also allows the coach to keep following him and call him whenever he needs him in the first team. This gives a player another year-or-two of football within your organisation and this way the coach has another period of time in which he could follow his footballing development. For me, a 20 year old player needs to be ready for the first team and this is the way to prepare him for this position”.
How did you adapt to the system of a youth division, because we follow your Twitter account, there were several cases where you very critical of this subject. What is problematic with the system in your opinion?

“Well, one of the problems is obviously the fact we do not have a B’ team. For me the rule of the ‘over aged player’ is superficial. It leads to a situation where your team can have players who are three years apart, and not one year like it should be. You have players who are not out of school yet alongside players who are in the army. This effects the quality of the league. This is one of my problems. By the way, this is the reason why in our international tournament we defined in advance that the rule will be like the international rule. The games are for players under the age of 19 only. This is how we gave a chance to players under the age of 19 from the other participating Israeli clubs, to play against European opponents. Another problem I have is that every player under the age of 15 could to wherever he wants to. Or you have meetings with parents of a player and he tells you ‘listen, my kid is 15 years old and this is when football becomes a business. What are you offering me?’. These are things which are not good for clubs. Due to that, there are clubs that no longer invest in youth, there are those who invest but lose their players because they don’t have the ability to offer a contract as they invest everything on the development of a pitch and on coaches, this is where Israel must move more in the direction of Europe when a club investing in youth is always protected. So if a certain club wants a player from my team, he will have to compensate me financially and not be able to sign him without giving me anything in exchange. So in fact, those clubs would think again whether the actually need this player or do they already have someone similar in the tea who deserves a chance”.
Have you spoken to Willie Rotensteiner on this matter?
“We spoke on a range of topics, like B teams, we spoke of U19 teams and what needs to be done there, what needs to be done with the U15 teams, do we need a foreign player in the youth team, all those things we need to reach a situation where Israeli football is normal in relation to football across the world. I think that Willie is in the direction he could influence Israeli football”.
We saw Eden Kartzev earlier (Thursday) play and score a stunning goal. Where do you see his career heading, because Eden has been marked for several years as the next hot prospect of Israeli football?
Ok, at the same this is also one of Eden’s problems, because from a really young age everyone has been saying that he is the hope of Israeli football. This is why things for him or for his parents didn’t progress as fast as they expected. They might have expected he would be already playing for the first team. But I think that over the past 2,5 years I had known Eden, he is at a point where he must play football in the top flight. He showed that he is becoming a more stable person and more stable player, and now is the time where he needs to show that. He received a few minutes in the Toto Cup and against Acco, last season he also played a little in the Toto Cup. But now the time has come and as an 18 year old player he could receive playing minutes in the top flight”.
One of the weaknesses of Israeli football in recent years was the lack of quality goalkeepers. At Maccabi you have Haviv Ohayon, Daniel Peretz and Omer Katz who is on lon at Beitar Tel Aviv Ramle and these are three who are marked to be Israel’s future keepers. Is this something you put emphasis on when you joined – finding the next keepers?
“To be perfectly honest, all three keepers you mentioned were here before. But yes, I have a clear vision on what I want to see from my keepers. I want to connect them with our style of play and this is something we performed a change the moment we signed Yisrael Eini (The Youth department GK coach) who has an experience of developing Dutch keepers, which is what we wanted to see. We have very talented keepers who got accustomed really well to the style of play with the feet, and know how to organise a game from the back, they are good in the air, so I am very pleased. When I look at the younger age groups, we have several more good keepers who are emerging now and I hope that in the future would be able to challenge and push Peretz and Ohayoun to their maximum”.
Haviv Ohayon was already on the right track for an international career at Watford but the serious injury he suffered stopped him. Do you see him bounce back and rejoin that track?
“It totally depends on him now, he understood that he must work hard in order to regain his fitness which would be his battle for the remainder of his career – to keep on working hard, because this is what he needs in his condition ‘.
In recent weeks there were negotiations with Beitar Jerusalem for Eylon Almog. But in the end he wasn’t sold, in exchange for almost EUR 1.5m for 50% of his registration. Do you think he is worth such a fee? 
“It is completely irrelevant. Eylon is a very talented player. Only today, a Dutch player (Franki De Jong) was sold for approx. 85m, as we are in an age where money is no longer relevant. If a club is willing to pay, then the fee is normal”.
Do you think Maccabi, as the biggest club in Israel must sell its biggest talents to other clubs in the league?
“No. But we need to be open and honest and if there is a chance we must at least consider it and reach an opinion on the subject”.
What is it like for you to work for an owner like Mitch Goldhar who is willing to invest such big fees on the Youth department?

“For me and for the rest of the coaches it is important and very helpful that the youth department is so important for him and that he I willing to invest money in the development of youth, and that he wants the academy players to play for his first team. This is the best advertising card to advertise your club, which is not only to bring them to the first team but in the future to also sell themand generate a transfer which is good for your club, let us just hope that now after the results of his investment in the youth department are connected with the success of the first team, one could also improve the facilities of the club. This would be the final step in the long term plans of Maccabi Tel Aviv”.
It is impossible to build in Israel a La Masia like in Barcelona or a Jong Ajax, but what can Maccabi do so that Goldhar’s investment would deliver the goods and even repay itself?
“I think this will happen (for the department to repay the money invested in it). Without a doubt. If you take the latest situation with Eylon Almog. I can tell you that I see very talented players emerge, and we know that also from the international activities of our players, or from the fact European clubs got in touch with us requesting to call up our players for trials. We have a club which gives its players the opportunity to become professional players, we have an owner who gives those players the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. This is why we don’t need to sell talented players early or loan them, we want to keep them with us and develop them as much as possible”.

Part 3:
The rules in Israel allow you to register only one foreign player in the youth team. Is this a disadvantage?
“Not really, this is an opportunity. But I don’t see it as something really necessary for us. In the first season I didn’t use a foreign player. First I wanted to watch all the Israeli players first. If we look at the development, then if it is heading in the direction of a B side, then you need to get rid of the foreign player in the youth team. The foreign players could be signed for the B side instead, and at youth level let the Israelis play. But it eventually depends on the clubs. We found a very talented player in Panama (Eduardo Guerrero) who could prove to be a really good investment in the long term, but we hope to have a B side which would help us continue with his development because we know that today he is not good enough for the first team of Maccabi and we must find a good solution for him”.
There were plenty of speculations regarding your contact with the first team. Is there any connection if at all?
“No. I don’t have anything. I have contact with the CEO and the coach, and we discus certain topics, such as what academy player is ready to practice with the first team or for example a player like Eden Kartzev that we could help him get playing minutes and remain match-fit, talk about things like that. This is my part, preparing the academy players for the first team”.
Are you aware of the theory according to which you recommended Jordi to sign Marcelo dos Santos?
“A lot of rubbish was written in the media, Ofer tells me only what I need to know. I am not involved in scouting for the first team. I had nothing to do with transfers which took place in the first team”.
What do you think about Ben Mansford’s decision to call back the players from loans this season?
“I think the decision to call back player to the club is always the best one. I strongly believe in talented players and the ones who returned to the first team, have a specific talent which one can develop only when they are in the right position and this is where they are now and are given a chance to play. I try to continue with this method, so that the first team coach will continue selecting young players and keep our identity as a club would be one which prepares young players for the senior side”.
To your coaching staff at the academy you brought in many former Maccabi players who haven’t actually coached following their retirements. Guy Zarfati, Dedi Ben Dayan, Jeffry Yishai, Shura Ubrov and Kale Dresler, is this something you do maintain the identity?
“This is something which is interesting to do. All the names you mentioned didn’t really coach after retiring. They are very interesting figures to work with because they have the experience as footballers but not as coaches. So far it has worked really well with all of them. They understand the philosophy, they understand today how to prepare a training session properly, which gives them experience ahead of their coaching career”.
Is one of the roles of the youth department to produce coaches for the first team?
“Definitely, this is the departments’ second aim. To prepare coaches, to give them a chance to make the step up to the senior side if they are needed”.
Guy Zarfati could be that coach?
“Every coach who is at our academy, who is working here, whether you are today coaching the U13’s or U15s’ you must take the time to learn and investment in yourself, gain experience as a coach, watch other teams train, we have coaches who use their spare time to travel and watch clubs abroad and see how they work. To be a former player is a bonus, but it is not always enough. It doesn’t turn you into a good coach. We have in our academy good coaches who never played football at a professional level, but they are very organised and determined”.
In comparison to Feyenoord and Shakhtar, does Maccabi Tel Aviv academy fall short?
“The facilities are more or less the only think I see a difference, and this is the only thing we must change and the sooner the better. As far as the quality of the players, I don’t think we fall short. We are not behind in relation to the clubs you mentioned. The difference is that these clubs, like Feyenoord, Ajax or Barcelona are doing what Maccabi is doing with me but they have been doing this for 30 years and not just 3. They are following a certain system and working hard in order to maintain it for as long as possible, which is something we must achieve. A football philosophy is not because Patrick Van Leeuwen is here, it is because something is embedded in this club and this is what I, my staff and the Israeli coaches, are trying to implement here. We would like this style to be identified with us, with the way in which we are working, training, preparing for a game and also play”.
How is life in Israel for you?
“Life here is very good for me. The winter is cold (he laughs). I am enjoying life here very much outside football as well. This is a very nice country, all that people are asking me for example teams who came here, is about the life here and I tell them that in 2.5 years of living here I sleep like a baby. When I wake up in the morning I have a big smile on my face. It is always fun to come here and see the players and coaches arrive in training to work and train”.
Will you be recommending to your colleagues to come here?
“If there are clubs in Israel interested in adding Dutch football coaches, I would recommend them to do so. Obviously. I would also recommend them to start by improving the training facilities, because there is talent in Israel as well. As far as what you can achieve from football coaches here, as academy managers, there is still an opportunity for Israeli football to make a lot of progress”.
How long do you intend to stay for?
“This I don’t know. I had a contract, which was extended till 2020, so this is the specified time at the moment and I have another 18 months left on my contract. Do I see myself stay any longer? It all depends on how much we will be able to progress and how much will we achieve by then. It is a great pleasure to work here with the coaches and the players. I stayed for 7 years in the Ukraine, after I never believed I would last even a year, I developed football there which is what I am trying to do here as well”.
Working as a Performance Director at Youth Departments is way for your entire career?
“Certainly not. It was an opportunity for me when my contract was over at Kairat. It was an opportunity for me to work closer to Jordi at the time. This is why I stepped down from the role of Sports Director to this role because the opportunity here was very interesting and appealing. Obviously I have aspirations of my own for the future”.
And what are they?
“To be involved again with a senior side”.
As a coach or a Sports Director?
“This I will leave open. I don’t want to close any door. I already did the role of a Sports Director for several years. As a coach? Well, today I don’t see myself as a coach of one team but more of a coach of 15 teams in the academy. I am involved in their organization, in determining a style, in talks with scouts, in serach for positions we need so I am very influential and the role of a coach will bring you to a situation where I could only influence on one team. So far, I haven’t done that. In Kazakhstan I did everything – first team and academy in the professional-managerial side, I worked on transfers of the senior side, chose players etc’. This is something which is also appealing for me”.
Final question – there is a theory which suggests that in order to win the youth division when you are at Maccabi Tel Aviv is the most important thing. But is it really important to win trophies at these ages?
“For me – this is not a target. Our aim is to develop players for the first team and develop our football philosophy. And on this subject, allow me to be a bit arrogant, but I think that my football philosophy will give our teams the success they deserve. And if it means first place so it will be first place, and if it means second place because another team has bigger talents or had played better, then we will have to live with that. But I do think that what we bring to Maccabi – brings us the results at all ages. For me it is a great pleasure to watch every age group play. For instance yesterday I watched the U12’s play North vs South and it was just as pleasing as watching the our U16’s play against Hakoah Ramat Gan, or the youth team play in the league. I love to see our players play in my style and philosophy”.

PATRICK VAN LEEUWEN: “I’M HAPPY TO SHARE MACCABI’S PHILOSOPHY”

The Performance Director discussed the course that is currently underway that deals with training principles in modern football. Watch a video clip from last class inside

The brand new course from Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Sports Science Department and the Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports recently began that focuses on Training Principles in Modern Football. Following a successful first class where Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen spoke about the general philosophy and style of play, the second course started to delve into the heart of the matter as Raymond Atteveld, van Leeuwen’s assistant presided over the class.

Atteveld discussed the various aspects of the game, be it the defensive or offensive side and explained that individual drills and full training sessions can be planned, what the players are required to do in the same situations, the coach’s attitude and how technological means are used for the quantitative assessment of statistics. In addition, the class looked at how a database helps in the planning and monitoring of training along with a theoretical demonstration of a session with a practical analysis immediately afterwards.

The student body is composed of coaches, undergraduate students in the field of physical education as well as fitness trainers. The organizers of the course have adapted the content for everyone, so tools can be provided to all of the attendees and professional staff personnel in the same “language” and can be synchronized so that they can all work as one unit. So far the students have been extremely pleased and enthusiastic. Some have said that they have finally found a course where training methodology is being taught and that tools are being given in order to implement a theory in terms of planning, control, performance and evaluation immediately after a practice session.

Patrick van Leeuwen said: “I’m very happy that we began this project. There’s a a lot of interest on the part of the students and the coaches who registered and it gives us an opportunity to explain Maccabi’s philosophy by classroom lectures as well as actual training drills from our academic team. In the coming years, we will give the students an opportunity to also experience the training sessions themselves. I am very happy about the initiative and this is something that we must strive to continue.”

Atteveld also gave his point of view: “The participants are very energetic and are interested to learn how we work at Maccabi. They ask questions and look for advice on day to day situations that they encounter. They have a thirst and desire to learn more and more.” He also added: “The course makes the students think more about the work methodology that is relevant to them and we analyze every matter in order to help them become better coaches and then they can in turn create better players.”

https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2017/03/patrick-van-leeuwen-im-happy-sh…

AFTER THE SUCCESS: SUMMING UP THE SEASON WITH VAN LEEUWEN

The second season of the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Department under the direction of Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen has come to a close and we sat down with the Dutchman to discuss some of the highlights of the campaign, the successful season had by the clubs and much more. Van Leeuwen also talks about what chances the players have in advancing to the First Team, the goals ahead and the path to success.

This is your second season at the Club. How would you sum up from your point of view this most successful season that saw each age group winning their league title?

“I would sum this season up as a continuation of building the program via our football philosophy. Our starting point was much higher this season than last. After a full campaign where our players were able to get used to the philosophy, they came into the season much better prepared at the beginning of the year. We had an excellent training camp in the Ukraine which included the Under-19, 17 and 16 teams. They all had the opportunity to play against top level European clubs and the chance to see how our squads stacked up to theirs.”

Van Leeuwen continued: “In terms of results, we had a very successful season and each age group from the U15’s to the U19’s won their respective championship. Of course, this will create expectations for the upcoming season and we will have to live up to those standards. The professional staff and management added new things into the regimen in order to strengthen the clubs. We are very satisfied with the final results and how we continued to advance our philosophy across the department. Many of the teams played at a very high level and at the end of the season took home the league championship. It’s not because we demanded that, but because we continued to play football the whole season. I believe that all of the titles won were because of our football philosophy and we have been working very hard on this specific way in order to be successful as well as enjoying the game itself. We attempted to teach the players as much information as we could for each specific age group. This way gives gives clear results and we’re talking about 4 individual teams that were successful following this methodology. Our way of football is based on a specific philosophy and now we have good fundamentals in order to continue our work next season.”

At the beginning of the season there was criticism leveled at the department, the results proved them wrong:

“There was some “noise” outside of Maccabi Tel Aviv. Every place where I had worked in the past be it in the Ukraine or Kazakstan, when you make changes there will always be some people who won’t be happy. The “noise” came from people within the club, some of them finished their time at the club and some left voluntarily. They were the ones who tried to create a little bit of “noise”. They tried to make my personal and Maccabi’s success more difficult. I believe that the youth department coaches and players said their piece with the results that we achieved at the end of the season. If you look at our internal success, there were plenty of players that were invited to the various different Israel National teams. We all worked well together to suppress the “noise” around us. Of course, today the reviews have changed to a pat on the back, good words and the desire to be even more Yellow & Blue.”

Is there a specific model throughout the world or a club that you aspire to be similar to?

“The model which we are using has been put together specifically for Maccabi Tel Aviv. We take advantage of the opportunities we have in training to do the maximum. The advantage we give the coaches is that they receive a tremendous amount of both theoretical and practical information. When our coaches went to educational seminars abroad they were able to see that we are similar to some of the best academies in Europe. However, in terms of our facilities we still have a way to go. In addition, during the two years that I’ve been here, one of the positive things that I’ve seen is that there are many talented footballers in the country, not just at Maccabi Tel Aviv but at other clubs as well.”

In terms of the players in the youth department, there were a number of them from the U19 to the U16 level who trained with the First Team. Do you feel that the homegrown players have a place in the top team?

“At the start of the season, players from the Under-19 squad trained with the First Team as per the coach’s request. During the second half of the season, there were players who were consistently training with the First Team like Tomer Altman. There were additional players from the Under-17 and Under-16 sides that also had the opportunity to train with the First Team for a variety of reasons. I believe that these chances definitely gave the feeling that there is a connection with the First Team and that it’s possible to train with them. The feedback we received about the players was of course very positive, about their passion and desire that they saw. The older players who are closer to the First Team in terms of age, were able to see where they need to improve. At the end of the day, this whole process helps show that there is a path from the youth department to the First Team and that there are opportunities.”

The owner says that his desire is to see the First Team made up of home grown players, how do you see this challenge?

“I believe that every talent deserves a chance. The Under-19 team players showed their quality and deserved the opportunity to train with the First Team. Once they receive that chance, the responsibility is upon themselves to prove that they deserve playing time. I think that it’s possible to have a high percentage of youth department players with the First Team over the next few years. It’s a challenge and I believe that it’s within reach. As a club, it’s important to give these players the opportunity. We must create a culture that there are candidates every season so that they can get a chance. If they don’t succeed, there should be an alternative in the second division, where a number of players can have the opportunity to take the next step together.”

What are the short term and long term goals for the youth department?

“For the foreseeable future, the goal is reinvigorate our football philosophy each season and that should be part of our culture. In the long term, we want to create candidates for the First Team from the Academy and be able to give the coach a number of players who he can test out. Another goal which I hope to be a part of is the whole issue of developing the facilities that we have in the department which can be done in parallel to the football development. If we don’t have the right tools to give that extra football development, then other clubs will be able to close the gap due to better facilities and their football advancement as well. So it’s important for the club, the youth players and coaches that we improve our facilities.”

There have been discussions about developing young players through an Under-21 league or an option for teams to register players up to the age of 21 in the lower leagues. Van Leeuwen believes that this should become reality: “There are examples from Germany, Portugal and Spain that there are other teams that play in the second or third division. For example last season in Portugal, Porto’s second team won the second division championship. There was a similar case in Holland when Ajax won the second league title and there isn’t an option for them to be promoted a league, but they are playing at the highest possible level. This is a wonderful chance for players between the age of 18-21 to play at a high level against professional adult teams.”

About the National Teams:

“The National Teams are good for our players. We have many players who are playing with various age National Teams. The Under-17 team was in the European Championship which is the top of the top. They showed that they have ability but I think that the methodology should be more like a team. The players can’t be influenced just through a week or month of training. The preparations need to be very specific because there is potential and quality in the Israel National Teams and you have to make sure that it’s reflected in this type of tournament. It’s different at a football club as there are more opportunities with the players. I think the Football Association needs to look at how to properly prepare a team for these types of important tournaments.”

https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2018/06/success-summing-season-van-leeu…

PATRICK VAN LEEUWEN SUMMED UP THE U-19 TOURNAMENT

The club’s Performance Director, Patrick van Leeuwen looked back at the International U-19 Tournament organized by the club: “Everybody showed their qualities during the tournament both on and off the field”

The Maccabi Tel Aviv Performance Director, Patrick van Leeuwen looked back at the Academy’s First International Youth Tournament and summed up its success:

“Good organization is only half of the job and that is what we, the MTA Academy have done leaving us all with a very good feeling after three days of tournament football!”

Tournament winners:

“To the above we have to acknowledge the achievement of our U19 team who were the winners of our first International Youth Tournament.”

More about the young Yellow & Blue:

“The Maccabi “Shachar” Under-19 side grew match by match and delivered a stable performance. When you perform well as a team, then success will come your way.”

Performance on and off of the field of play:

“Personally, I enjoyed the performance of all of the teams and everybody showed their qualities during the tournament both on and off the field.”

A big thank you:

“Thank you all, from the employees of the Academy that organized the tournament to the teams and coaching staffs that came and believed in our organization.”

Final wishes:

“Good luck and enjoy the start or continuation of your league!”

Until next time…

Patrick van Leeuwen looked back at day 2 of the MTA Youth Tournament at Kiryat Shalom:

“It was a great and beautiful day for the tournament as the weather and field conditions were perfect for all of the teams.”

Fans in Israel and abroad:

“The spectators that attended the Tournament enjoyed good performances by the teams. The matches were also broadcasted through via the club’s YouTube channel which is a great service for fans from other cities and for the followers of Bayer Leverkusen and Red Star Paris in Germany and France respectively.”

Professionalism of the sides”

“The professionalism of all the teams was visible on and off the field which resulted in a great second day of the tournament.”

Final thoughts:

“Tomorrow, all of the teams will play another two matches, which will bring the total to 5 matches for each team in three days. I would like to wish everyone a successful third and final day of the tournament.

Following Friday’s matches, Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen spoke about the first day of the Maccabi Tel Aviv FC Under-19 International Tournament:

“The first day of our International U19 tournament has come to an end and we have seen some good matches from the participating teams although the weather gave us some problems and we had to make some changes in the program”

Good atmosphere:

“All in all everything worked out well and our Academy employees created a good atmosphere for youth football development.”

Plenty of football to come:

“Over the next couple of days, we will be able to see more matches being played by all of the teams. The matches will give everyone plenty of football to talk about from the coaches and players to our spectators as well.

About the upcoming matches:

Tomorrow, Saturday, the matches begin at 11:00 and we hope to see you at our training ground Kiryat Shalom to enjoy youth football.”

 

https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2018/01/patrick-van-leeuwen-concludes-f…

The results will be a natural effect of our work on and off of the field

Mentality of the Israeli player compared to other places:

“I think that sometimes the Israeli player will be easy minded in way that if they show that they can do something once then that’s enough. I want to work with players who come to a session and want to improve everyday and that was something that didn’t exist at the beginning of the season. But I have seen lot of changes as the players know that we want to see them change and improve every single day. If you compare the Israeli, Ukrainian and Kazakstan player, you can see that the Eastern European player puts in a different amount of effort and aims higher. They have to travel a longer distance to get to the training facility and they know that their family background may not be the best so they want to succeed. The Israeli player lives closer by the football club, but they also have to show what they have to do to become a professional football player and what they are willing to do to become this professional football player. Together with my assistants Raymond and Robin I want to make sure that the coaches and players understand that becoming a professional footballer is a privileged job.”

Goals going forward:

“The goals for a youth department are always long term. Short term doesn’t work because when you institute a philosophy you are gaining the benefit of football development which occurs over a longer period of time. I know that in the near future the Maccabi teams will be more stable and will be able to deliver a higher performance training session by both the players and the coaches along with increasing the level of our training sessions and our matches. Further down the road we want to deliver candidates to the first team and this is an every year goal that recently started for us. We were lucky to have 5 boys training with the first team at the training camp. They left a positive impression on the head coach as well as the players who were training with them as they were eager, willing to listen and learn, while showing good technical qualities and tactically good choices in the training sessions and matches. This is something we want to happen every year, to have the Academy boys training with the first team, playing friendly matches with the first team and more.

We want to further develop the professionalism of our players. We want them to think about Maccabi Tel Aviv, why they spend so much time playing football and being educated outside of the football field, by using video analysis, by the use of a psychologist to help the team process and make them more aware that they are the ones that have to do it. If I look at direct team results of becoming champions then if the process is in the right direction and the coaches work well on the field and the players perform well on the field and listen well to their coaches, then the results will be a natural effect of our work on and off of the field.”

The staff’s attitude in adapting to the new philosophy:

“When I came in the staff was already prepared by Guy Zukerman and everyone was put in a position where they could prove themselves. I started to work with all of the coaches in the positions that they were placed in. Some of them worked out well and some had trouble. That’s all part of developing a new philosophy. It doesn’t always go in everyone’s direction and there had to be some changes at the beginning. At the end of the season there were also changes since some coaches still thought that they should have different opportunities that they can’t receive at Maccabi. Along the way we lost some coaches, but in general I am happy with all the coaches which stayed and with the new coaches that we are looking to add to the existing coaching staff.

It’s not always easy to implement a new football philosophy and there will always be coaches who are not willing to adapt because of their many years of experience as a coach. But after so many years of experience, I know which direction I want to go in and what results will be produced at the end. I am here to help make the coaches, players and scouting department happier and better.”

The first season ended with the Youth Department under a new professional team headed by Patrick Van Leven, the club’s Performance Director. In a special interview, Van Leeuwen concludes his first season in the department and shares details about his special philosophy.

Summing up the season from a professional point of view:

“It’s almost exactly one year that I’ve been at Maccabi and looking back at the things that I had planned for the Club, I believe that we have come a long way. We were able to change the football philosophy and implement a philosophy for all of the teams, one that is not determined by an individual coach. This is how I want all of teams to adapt to which will ensure that all of the coaches go in the same direction which also opens up discussions about exercises and the development of players.

At the beginning of the season there was a lot of explaining and correcting which wasn’t always pleasant for a coach if he was corrected on the field. But this is the process that we had to go through to make sure that we went in the right direction. You can now see that all of the teams including the Under-8s and Under-9s have a specific philosophy, one that is begins at a younger age and will continue from year to year both in football matches and in training sessions.

Of course, when you try to change the football philosophy within a club there are always ups and downs, but all in all we did very well with the coaches and with their cooperation in implementing a new philosophy.”

Changes that have been made that have contributed to the department’s progress:

“I believe in clarity. I brought in one philosophy for everybody and I feel that if you have everybody working and thinking in the same direction, especially when you are working on a long term project like the Academy you will succeed. Every year players will not only repeat what they have learned but will then get new information from the coaches that they will have in the second or third season. This is one of the major things that contributes to the progress of players and coaches and the Maccabi Tel Aviv Youth Department as a whole.”

About the department’s philosophy:

“The philosophy is a combination of my basic development in Holland, experiences that I had in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan which also influences my Dutch football background and makes it more to the point for those types of countries where football has been learned in a different way. I like one philosophy where all of the coaches do the same thing in training and playing. The game of football consists of different key moments, whether it’s attacking, defending or switching from one to another or the way you take the set pieces. This is also for all the age groups so everyone is going in the same direction with the same football thoughts at all times.”

Important aspects and values that need to be assimilated in a player in order to advance:

“There are 3 things that are very important. We want a good football player, an educated person outside of football and a creative person. We want to educate a person not just in the field of football and education but to be a well rounded individual. If someone doesn’t give 100% in football then that will influence his education and vice versa. We are teaching the players to always give 100% and to give the maximum of their talent and to always be responsible in football, education and as a person.”

More information on https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2017/07/van-leeuwen-results-will-natura…

Israel needs to give the clubs an option for under-21 team

Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen spoke about his first few months at Maccabi and what he has been working on in the Youth Department. He especially focussed on the importance of the Maccabi Tel Aviv School in the North of Tel Aviv and why it is as crucial as the one located at Kiryat Shalom:

“The Club’s plan is to keep working with both the school in the North of Tel Aviv and in the South at Kiryat Shalom because they are all part of the same family. I don’t see this changing over the next season because as a Club we need a bigger pond to fish from and to find quality talented players. The rumors of the North school closing are unfounded as this is a critical location for all of us at Maccabi. The information and statistics say that there are an equal amount of quality players coming from the North as from the South.”

Improving the Northern School’s facilities:

“It is crucial for us at Maccabi to improve the facilities and to give the best opportunities to the children at the North school. We need both schools in order for us to be able to develop the best players and evaluate the best talent that is available across Tel Aviv as well as the country. This will help us make the correct decisions in bringing the best players to the Under-16 or Under-17 Clubs.”

The all-important connection between the Maccabi School in the North and the one at Kiryat Shalom:

“As I mentioned, we have a difference between the two schools in terms of facilities but in terms of philosophy there is no difference between the schools because both sets of coaches get the same education and as a club the children in the North are as important for us as the children in the South. This is one of the tasks that together with Club management we are trying to improve. We want to have as many hours and the same level of facilities that we have in the South.”

Of course, developing the younger levels at Maccabi Tel Aviv is also a very important task which van Leeuwen believes is critical as to the success of the program:

“For me it’s a full package. We want to create an Under-8 and Under-9 club on a permanent basis as this is as important as creating a higher level for the Under-19 team. The philosophy that is put in means that it begins with the younger ages moving all the way up to the older ages. We try to prepare the youngsters to be technically able to handle the ball and to be able to play together. At these ages you start giving them the general feel of being a footballer and eventually it will end up where they will need to show us who is the best player or who can take a step to the first team.”

The Youth Department’s activities over the past few months have been numerous, but van Leeuwen points out a number of crucial points:

“There have been numerous activities going on in the Youth Department over the past few months, but there are some very important changes that have been made:

The first thing is that we have been focusing on developing the coaches to make sure that they get enough information about the philosophy that I want to have in the Maccabi Academy. This is related to how we want to play matches and how we want the coaches and players to prepare to play matches as well as to become better footballers individually.

Secondly, I wanted to improve the criteria around player development to do the physical training in a different fashion. This way it doesn’t take time away from the football practice because it’s done before the training session and that way the session is a pure football session.

I have added video analysis in a more demanding way from a management point of view in order to have every match and every single training session filmed. This way we can show the players visually what mistakes they made or what they did very well.

In addition, we are working together with the Wingate College for Physical Education And Sports Science on a first of a kind professional course for coaches at Kiryat Shalom where we can share our professional information amongst each other.

This phase has been going on for more than 4 months and we have made progress. I’m satisfied as to the efforts of the coaches and the efforts of the players. Even though we may be playing football, I am making different demands in the way the coaches and the players have to perform which they are trying to cope with.”

The department has been undergoing a revolution and the changes that are taking place have been planned by the Club’s management:

“In the beginning, there were some heads turning and eyes rolling around as to why there were different demands from what they had been used to. But this was the way I wanted to do things and what was also demanded of me by Sport Director Jordi Cruyff as well as the owner to make the appropriate changes to help bring the players and the coaches to the next level. I’m satisfied with the direction we are now going in.”

A very important key to the future relies on the addition of Raymond Atteveld to the staff:

“I can do a lot more now because Raymond Atteveld is working with me. He is spending time with the coaches on the field as well as with the players and he is trying to stimulate the coaches to bring everyone to a higher level. It’s great to have him here. With both of us now working together we can help improve the coaches and bring them to another level.

Raymond was a well known player from Holland and he has a lot of character. I brought him in when he first started coaching and I brought him to FC Kairat where we worked closely together to bring the players and the coaches together. This is exactly what I want to do at Maccabi. When he became free, I invited him to join us at Maccabi and to assist me with this project. It’s very important for him to handle the coaches and various other things as it frees up my time to focus on other issues at hand. We still have certain things to improve both with the players and the coaches as well as in organizational development.”

What are the the next steps:

“We are trying to further increase our knowledge of our players in Israel so the scouting department have some different demands than what they had before. We want to see the players but also those who we want to strengthen from the younger ages, 8-9 years old and up to 17 years old. The Maccabi Academy also had the intention to organize open days for children of local clubs to show their qualities to the coaches and scouts of Maccabi Tel Aviv.

An additional step is to bring the Medical Department of the Academy to another level where there is clear attention for the players on a daily basis. Since the hours on the field has increased that also means we have to make sure that we are doing everything to prevent them from being injured but also if they unfortunately do get hurt then we can treat them the best way ourselves.

Part of the Club also includes the commercial activities of the Football Schools. We want to make some adjustments which will make them even more fun for children to be a part of and experience the Maccabi Football Academy style. Whoever is part of the Football Schools and is performing well, potentially will have the opportunity to be invited to the Academy training sessions.”

Read more: https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2016/11/patrick-van-leeuwen-want-give-p…

We want to give all the players the best opportunities

Performance Director Patrick van Leeuwen spoke about his first few months at Maccabi and what he has been working on in the Youth Department. He especially focussed on the importance of the Maccabi Tel Aviv School in the North of Tel Aviv and why it is as crucial as the one located at Kiryat Shalom:

“The Club’s plan is to keep working with both the school in the North of Tel Aviv and in the South at Kiryat Shalom because they are all part of the same family. I don’t see this changing over the next season because as a Club we need a bigger pond to fish from and to find quality talented players. The rumors of the North school closing are unfounded as this is a critical location for all of us at Maccabi. The information and statistics say that there are an equal amount of quality players coming from the North as from the South.”

Improving the Northern School’s facilities:

“It is crucial for us at Maccabi to improve the facilities and to give the best opportunities to the children at the North school. We need both schools in order for us to be able to develop the best players and evaluate the best talent that is available across Tel Aviv as well as the country. This will help us make the correct decisions in bringing the best players to the Under-16 or Under-17 Clubs.”

The all-important connection between the Maccabi School in the North and the one at Kiryat Shalom:

“As I mentioned, we have a difference between the two schools in terms of facilities but in terms of philosophy there is no difference between the schools because both sets of coaches get the same education and as a club the children in the North are as important for us as the children in the South. This is one of the tasks that together with Club management we are trying to improve. We want to have as many hours and the same level of facilities that we have in the South.”

Of course, developing the younger levels at Maccabi Tel Aviv is also a very important task which van Leeuwen believes is critical as to the success of the program:

“For me it’s a full package. We want to create an Under-8 and Under-9 club on a permanent basis as this is as important as creating a higher level for the Under-19 team. The philosophy that is put in means that it begins with the younger ages moving all the way up to the older ages. We try to prepare the youngsters to be technically able to handle the ball and to be able to play together. At these ages you start giving them the general feel of being a footballer and eventually it will end up where they will need to show us who is the best player or who can take a step to the first team.”

The Youth Department’s activities over the past few months have been numerous, but van Leeuwen points out a number of crucial points:

“There have been numerous activities going on in the Youth Department over the past few months, but there are some very important changes that have been made:

The first thing is that we have been focusing on developing the coaches to make sure that they get enough information about the philosophy that I want to have in the Maccabi Academy. This is related to how we want to play matches and how we want the coaches and players to prepare to play matches as well as to become better footballers individually.

Secondly, I wanted to improve the criteria around player development to do the physical training in a different fashion. This way it doesn’t take time away from the football practice because it’s done before the training session and that way the session is a pure football session.

I have added video analysis in a more demanding way from a management point of view in order to have every match and every single training session filmed. This way we can show the players visually what mistakes they made or what they did very well.

In addition, we are working together with the Wingate College for Physical Education And Sports Science on a first of a kind professional course for coaches at Kiryat Shalom where we can share our professional information amongst each other.

This phase has been going on for more than 4 months and we have made progress. I’m satisfied as to the efforts of the coaches and the efforts of the players. Even though we may be playing football, I am making different demands in the way the coaches and the players have to perform which they are trying to cope with.”

The department has been undergoing a revolution and the changes that are taking place have been planned by the Club’s management:

“In the beginning, there were some heads turning and eyes rolling around as to why there were different demands from what they had been used to. But this was the way I wanted to do things and what was also demanded of me by Sport Director Jordi Cruyff as well as the owner to make the appropriate changes to help bring the players and the coaches to the next level. I’m satisfied with the direction we are now going in.”

A very important key to the future relies on the addition of Raymond Atteveld to the staff:

“I can do a lot more now because Raymond Atteveld is working with me. He is spending time with the coaches on the field as well as with the players and he is trying to stimulate the coaches to bring everyone to a higher level. It’s great to have him here. With both of us now working together we can help improve the coaches and bring them to another level.

Raymond was a well known player from Holland and he has a lot of character. I brought him in when he first started coaching and I brought him to FC Kairat where we worked closely together to bring the players and the coaches together. This is exactly what I want to do at Maccabi. When he became free, I invited him to join us at Maccabi and to assist me with this project. It’s very important for him to handle the coaches and various other things as it frees up my time to focus on other issues at hand. We still have certain things to improve both with the players and the coaches as well as in organizational development.”

What are the the next steps:

“We are trying to further increase our knowledge of our players in Israel so the scouting department have some different demands than what they had before. We want to see the players but also those who we want to strengthen from the younger ages, 8-9 years old and up to 17 years old. The Maccabi Academy also had the intention to organize open days for children of local clubs to show their qualities to the coaches and scouts of Maccabi Tel Aviv.

An additional step is to bring the Medical Department of the Academy to another level where there is clear attention for the players on a daily basis. Since the hours on the field has increased that also means we have to make sure that we are doing everything to prevent them from being injured but also if they unfortunately do get hurt then we can treat them the best way ourselves.

Part of the Club also includes the commercial activities of the Football Schools. We want to make some adjustments which will make them even more fun for children to be a part of and experience the Maccabi Football Academy style. Whoever is part of the Football Schools and is performing well, potentially will have the opportunity to be invited to the Academy training sessions.”

Read more: https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2016/11/patrick-van-leeuwen-want-give-p…

Van Leeuwen attends ECA Conference on Academy Standards

Academies has been an important topic amongst youth football over the past few years and just as new technology has been at the forefront of the ever-evolving world of football with information being shared between clubs the same is true about Academies. Last week, Patrick van Leeuwen, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Performance Director attended a special ECA conference concerning this matter, as the body representing the interests of association football clubs in UEFA have looked to continue to explore this subject matter in much more depth.

Van Leeuwen, along with representatives from Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiakos along with other top clubs in Europe were selected to be part of a team assembled to establish a list of standards that will form the basis for any Club that wants to build or analyze their Academy. “A lot of the conference was spent discussing Academy standards in European countries. We want to ensure that the Academies will be at the highest professional levels and for them not to just say that they have an Academy. We want to really make sure that the coaches and players have the best facilities in order from them to develop to the best of their abilities.”

About what Maccabi Tel Aviv will gain van Leeuwen said: “As part of the cross sharing of information, I hope that we will be able to receive reports that we will be able to use at Maccabi’s Academy and then be able to compare ourselves and our performance standards to the biggest and best clubs in Europe.” The Performance Director continued to discuss the differences between the perception of Academies in Israel to those from abroad: “From what I understand, for the most part in Israel, Academies don’t have the highest demands compared to other clubs in Holland, Germany, Spain and others where there are ratings and various levels of their Academy’s training facilities, performance and investment. Maccabi is currently having some challenges in developing the training facilities, but we are going in the right direction.”

Read more on https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2016/11/van-leeuwen-attends-eca-conference-academy-standards/

One on one with Patrick van Leeuwen

It’s been exactly three weeks since Patrick Van Leeuwen (46) was officially announced as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Performance Director. As he continues to adjust to the new position, the Yellow & Blue were drawn to face one of his former club’s, Kairat Almaty in the second round of Europa League qualifying.

Just prior to the the first leg between the two sides, Van Leeuwen conducted his first interview with the Official Website where he discussed his view on football, the plans he has for Maccabi, his connection with Jordi Cruyff and his initial impressions at Kiryat Shalom.

“WE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD ON THE FOUNDATION OF EVERYTHING THAT HAD BEEN DONE BEFORE TO BRING MACCABI TO THE NEXT LEVEL”

In his new offices at the Kiryat Shalom Training Facility, Patrick Van Leeuwen is getting used to life in Israel and his new role at Maccabi as the Performance Director. While it’s a recognized job in Europe the same can not be said in these parts: “Jordi Cruyff and Martin Bain offered me more than just the academy as they wanted me to be more involved in the scouting as well as the analytical and analysis department on the football side of the club. They wanted me to design a proper facility, a professional training facility for the club. It’s not only being the academy director but also the scouting director. So we combined everything into the Performance Director role because we are also trying to improve the performance of scouts, the performance of players and the performance of coaches and hopefully in the end the performance of football at Maccabi and in Israel in general.”

For Israelis, the Performance Director may be something new, however, Van Leeuwen has proven himself in other clubs after having worked at the Feyenoord youth department along with leading the revolution at the academy level and youth departments at both Shakhtar Donetsk and Kairat Almaty.

But it’s not just the youth department where his role ends: “It’s not only that I like to work with youth departments but I also like to assist clubs in developing football. My previous jobs have been with academies but also with first teams. Not only developing the structure of the academy but working with everyone that is involved. That means developing the coaches and developing the players through the coaches. In the beginning of my career, I did a lot of field work and was a coach myself. I assisted other coaches and then as soon as one becomes a manager of an academy or of a club it becomes more organizational work as well. This is the part I like a lot and what I’ll be doing to assist Maccabi now and help bring the club to the next level. We will continue to build on the foundation of everything that had been done before to bring Maccabi to that next level.”

What is your football philosophy and in developing players?

“My philosophy was formed in Holland, where Holland like Israel, is a small country. But in Holland it was clear to everybody that you have to go in the same direction to be successful in any field of work. My business is football and football in Holland is very structured when you talk about clubs and academies as well as the coaches education. Everything has a certain direction coming from 1974, Total Football, which initiated Holland’s football style.”

As Van Leeuwen explains, the education that was gained at the Dutch Football Federation also influenced his work at Feyenoord along with the Ukraine and Kazakstan and helps him to this day, guiding him in his work: “I think that only with a plan that is supported by everybody and by every coach in the same direction will be successful. If I have 18 coaches and everyone has their own ideas and cultures we won’t be able to go anywheres because we will fight with each other instead of working together. This has always been my intention from the beginning for every club with which I have worked and with every coach that I worked with and were under me or with me and I always try to push them in the same direction. So it’s not only my philosophy but also the club’s philosophy. Then I’m 100% sure that Maccabi will be able to make another step in the development of players and coaches. My intention is to bring in a philosophy that is supported and executed by every coach in the Maccabi structure. It’s about the professional side of the academy, the football schools that are working together with Maccabi Tel Aviv and spreading the philosophy to everybody that is connected with us.”

How do you manage to keep true to your path when you have to deal with many cultures between the countries you have worked in?

“In each and every place you have a different culture, atmosphere or approach. In Holland there is saying, that it’s the “sauce on the dish”. It’s the culture in each place that is very important in what you want to achieve and it’s something I look at very carefully when combining that with my football thoughts.”

It seems you enjoy taking on challenging projects. Do you agree?

“It’s an interesting challenge, if I know that I will be successful. If I know the club has no intention of making changes then it will be very difficult. If my ambition and plans are coming together with the plans and intentions of the club then it can only mean success.”

“AFTER MANY OF YEARS OF TALKING ABOUT COMING TOGETHER, IT FINALLY HAPPENED AND NOW WE CAN BRING MACCABI FURTHER TOGETHER.”

The first encounter between Jordi Cruyff and Van Leeuwen surprisingly took place in the Ukraine when the Yellow & Blue’s Sports Director was playing with Metalurh Donetsk. “He played in the same town as Shakhtar Donetsk as there was a second club in the same city. As two Dutch people we connected and formed a friendship and always looking at trying to combine our football thoughts in one club. He started asking me if I was interested in Tel Aviv and at that time I made a difference choice to continue my career in Eastern Europe. But we were always in touch about the football development in Tel Aviv, what he was doing and what I was doing. We also asked each other advice on players as he was building the first team in Israel and I was building the same in Kazakhstan along with the academy, so there was always a certain amount of interest from Jordi to obtain knowledge and expertise. After many of years of talking about coming together, it finally happened and now we can bring Maccabi further together.”

How will the roles be divided between the two of you?

“Jordi and I agree on a lot things football wise, but there are also things that I approach differently than he does. This is what is interesting for us; he gets some comments about his ideas and I get comments about my ideas. This will also be part of the role in cooperating with Jordi. To share my opinion and thoughts with him and in the end to make sure that we make the best decisions for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

We want the success that Jordi has had with the first team to be in all areas of the club; the youth department and also facility wise. That’s one of the reasons that I agreed to come here.”

“FOR A CLUB THAT IS UNDERGOING FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT, IT’S IMPORTANT TO CONNECT WITH CLUBS IN SPAIN, HOLLAND OR ENGLAND TO SHARE AND OBTAIN KNOWLEDGE.”

One of Van Leeuwen’s biggest projects was establishing the training facilities for the Kazakhstan club. After three years with Kairat Almaty, the Dutchman managed to build a youth academy up until the Under-19 level that included a proper training facility, a hall of residence as well as building facilities for the first team: “You don’t expect these facilities in Kazakhstan and for a team that is still in the development. It can match all of the facilities of English Premier League Clubs and Western Europe. These facilities will give all of the children and professional players a head start in their development.”

While working for other clubs you always placed a certain amount of importance on international relationships with other clubs. Why is this so significant?

“When you look at Feyenoord there was an interest to expand their contacts as there were cooperations in Poland and Hungary as well as Ghana and South Africa. There was also connections with Japan as there was a Japanese player in the first team. In Kairat is was about obtaining knowledge and it was part of the coach’s development to make connections with some top clubs, first teams and at the academy levels. To be able to give that as an experience to the coaches.

How do you see this in reference to Maccabi Tel Aviv?

“In the case of Maccabi, Jewish people are all over the world and I think that it’s the perfect community to make those connections both within Israel and also outside of the country. There are certain clubs in Europe where there is already a connection, but you can make it even stronger with clear agreements and you can assist each other in player and coach development by sending players to tournaments and so forth. It’s important for a club that is still undergoing football development, its important to connect with clubs in Spain, Holland or England to share and obtain knowledge.”

What have been your first steps in your new role with the youth department?

“Since I arrived I’ve obtained information from doing interviews with coaches, scouts and people within the organization to help me see how things were organized, what was in place and from where I can start. I think that I have a good overview of what is possible and in which direction I want to go in. At my first coaches meeting, I explained the football philosophy and how I want the matches to be organized and how I would like them to be coached by the coaches. In general, I want one philosophy for all the teams, and it doesn’t mean that we can’t have the same philosophy for the commercial schools and their coaches as well.

What have been your first impressions?

“My impression is that in every place there are people who are eager to suck up all of the information, people who want to see where things are heading and then there are people who are against it because they think they know it all. This combination of opinions will be everywhere and my job is to convince them that this is the direction where Maccabi wants to be. I’m not here to tell them what I like, but what the club wants it to be.”

Read more: https://www.maccabi-tlv.co.il/en/2016/07/first-look-one-one-patrick-van-…