WPSS elite school players report back on Japan experience

WPSS elite school players Hugo Kidd (17 years) and Jack Duncan (16 years) have returned home after a 3 week training experience in Japan. Kidd and Duncan joined the youth academy groups at J League clubs Kashiwa Reysol and Yokohama Marinos and spoke to WPSS on their return.
WPSS: What was your impression of the J League academy environments?
Duncan: The level in training is outstanding. The player quality is the best that I have been involved with in my life. Their all round technique is very good and the players just never make mistakes.
Kidd: The players understanding of each other and the game is very good. Everything is so fast, all the players have the ability to think quick and play quick. Even in training all the players have a hunger to win and perform with a winning mentality.
WPSS: What difference did you notice between how the J League academy players train?
Duncan: The trainings are delivered with a lot of detail and a lot is asked of the players mentally. I was impressed how the players took all the details on board and always worked to apply these to their performance.
Kidd: The players are so focused during training. Always switched on and never switch off.
WPSS: How did you adapt to training without speaking or understanding the Japanese language?
Duncan: Watched very carefully and learnt from what I saw, it was a great challenge given the trainings contained so much detail. The coaches were also very accomodating by creating demonstrations to help us out.
Kidd: I found that football is a universal language. I was able to watch closely and do my best to copy and perform what I saw. I found this really helped my levels of concentration and understanding as I had to pay such close attention to everything that was going on.
WPSS: How did you find yourself in this environment?
Duncan: Technically the players were on a different level. The quality of ball speed and thought is a lot faster than I have been exposed to in anything I have been involved in. I am so grateful of the opportunity I was given to experience this.
Kidd: Each day I felt that I was improving in the environment. The quality of player is so high that every day you are challenged to be your best – you can’t have an ‘off’ day! On reflection I feel I
still need to work on my first touch. The first touch of the J League academy players is exceptional.
WPSS: How did you find your physical ability?
Duncan: I think the main area I need to make improvements in is my speed. Especially off the mark. They J League academy players are very quick.
Kidd: I found that I need to improve my agility levels when I look at what the players were capable of. Strength wise I think I am at the level required in those top environments.
WPSS: What are you going to take back into New Zealand with you from this experience?
Duncan: I need to work on improving my mentality so I am always switched on in training. Trainings are like a matches for the boys in the J League academies and it is my goal to replicate this for myself when I am back training in New Zealand.
Kidd: The players in the J League academies have the attitude to always do more. Individually they are always doing extra work in order to get ahead or on top. I want to improve this habit in myself to always do extra to push myself.

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