It was a great last few months of 2019 for Fox Soccer Academy (FSA) Program Director, Michael Holzer, to say the least...
...Michael joined the FSA organization in the latter half of the summer months and has quickly made an impact, both on and off the field for us and the local soccer landscape. Not only did he win the MAAC Conference Championship with his Iona Gaels men's college team, he led our very own FSA PRO Foxes to a Division Championship in their 1st ever season as a semi-professional squad! Two championships in a matter of weeks is not too shabby, but it was a recent trip and the road ahead that looks even more promising...
...As Program Director of FSA, Michael is leading the charge toward the continued development of our professional training sessions, events, and more as we have begun the process of creating our own travel club teams, FSA PREMIER. With Winter Supplemental Trainings and the Little Foxes program upon us, Michael's focus is not only helping local players improve their skills, but he's also starting a true soccer academy from the ground up as our goal with FSA PREMIER is to be the top club organization in the Hudson Valley and tri-state area.
Calling Hudson Sports Complex home, FSA is thrilled for what the future holds and to expedite some of the growth process, Michael made his way out of New York and across the pond to the UK for a trip of a lifetime. To close out the year and begin 2020 with his best foot forward, Michael met with FSA colleagues and Leicester City FC executives! Check out our interview with Michael on what this journey to England meant for him and the program overall:
How was your time with Christian along with your UK FSA colleagues? What were you able to discuss and work on?
I actually extended my stay because I loved it so much! Having time to sit down and speak with Christian face-to-face was crucial. Discussing plans for 2020 with him as well as Mark Smith, Program Director in the UK, was vital so we could not only create a foundation for this upcoming year, but for years to come. Meeting several Coaches and FSA PRO players was amazing as we had great chats about how they grew as an organization which I will look to implement in the United States. Overall, everyone is just so passionate about the game and the professionalism is top-notch which is the exact culture I want to build at Hudson Sports Complex with FSA.
In general, what were you most impressed with regarding LCFC and the professionalism of the club as a whole?
I was impressed by everyone I interacted with and had the chance to meet. The behind-the-scenes employees were great and of course the sporting side of the organization was fantastic. The coaching staff was just so professional on such a consistent basis. The team training which is totally private (not public like in Germany), the whole staff eating together, the rhythm of training sessions...it was nothing short of an amazing experience.
Which LCFC players did you have the opportunity to meet? Any fun facts that you learned about them that you can share?
I was fortunate to have the chance to meet all the Leicester City FC players and coaching staff!
I met Jamie Vardy at lunch and he speaks a little bit of German which I didn’t expect. That was certainly a fun and unforgettable experience.
I had great conversations with Brendan Rodgers over lunch. I also spent time with Chris Davies and Kolo Toure who are the assistant coaches. Kolo Toure is the brother of Yaya Toure and was a famous defender in the Premier League for Arsenal, Man. City, and also played/coached at Celtic. There was also a 11v11 scrimmage at training that I stood and watched right on the pitch next to Brendan Rodgers.
What were some major leadership and soccer related takeaways from your visit that you can implement towards the entire FSA program, especially FSA PREMIER and FSA PRO?
I loved that they used a soccer ball in all of their exercises. Even during their Speed & Agility workouts in the beginning, a little pass or touch is included to keep it more game realistic. This was always one big item for me as a coach...I stand for it and it was nice to see that it’s being used at the highest level. Conditioning is vital, but getting as many touches on the ball for me is something I want to be used for FSA PREMIER and FSA PRO. We want to develop soccer players by making them comfortable on the ball and improve their physical attributes at the same time.
How was your time with Brendan Rodgers and other staff members of LCFC? What would you say that you learned the most from the Manager and his assistants?
I loved how respectful everyone was...they welcomed me, but they simply treated everyone so warmly. Brendan Rodgers communicates very respectfully and clear with all his players and staff.
Every player is expected to arrive at the grounds 1 hour prior to the start of training so they can get in the right mindset which I very much appreciate. They usually meet in the breakfast/lunch room to grab some food and then go out to the field. Chris Davies also showed me the most modern technologies they’re using to prepare and analyze games along with efficient ways of managing breaks and overall fitness.
How were your visits to all the different stadiums, Premier League matches, and your favorite moment overall?
I got to see two very tough matches for Leicester as they went against Manchester City and league leaders, Liverpool. Being at these matches really shows you the passion for this game and the energy is so invigorating. Being able to root on Christian was obviously a very proud moment of mine.
I tried to attend as many matches as possible and it was wonderful to see Christian play against West Ham! All of the stadiums were very impressive, especially the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Going to these games are experiences I will never forget.
Man City vs. Leicester
Tottenham vs. Chelsea
Leicester vs. Liverpool
West Ham vs. Leicester
How much can you take away from this trip and put towards the year ahead with FSA?
The experience was priceless and I want to thank Christian Fuchs for allowing me to spend time with him, my colleagues, and the entire LCFC organization. To end the year in such a way around the Holidays and to have this jumpstart 2020 for me is truly a moment in time that I will forever cherish.
Simply the kindness, words of wisdom, and general professionalism are all aspects I want to carry over to FSA. The style of play and overall work ethic are standards we want to set as well. The game is something I love and building an academy is no easy task, but when a plan is put into place, as Christian and I have done, the sky is the limit for our Fox Family. We want to be great...we want to be premier...and that's what we are working our tails off for.