Pictured at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium are (from left) Scott Bowers, Marlon LeBlanc and David Carr.

Pictured at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium are (from left) Scott Bowers, Marlon LeBlanc and David Carr.

Faculty, students and friends of the OHIO Soccer Coaching Program pose for a photo with academy staff at Ciudad Real Madrid, Real Madrid’s training complex.

Faculty, students and friends of the OHIO Soccer Coaching Program pose for a photo with academy staff at Ciudad Real Madrid, Real Madrid’s training complex.

Members of the OHIO Soccer Coaching Program show off their Bobcat pride at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex entrance.

Members of the OHIO Soccer Coaching Program show off their Bobcat pride at the Ciudad Real Madrid training complex entrance.

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Members of OHIO Soccer Coaching Program visit Madrid, Spain


Members of the Ohio University Soccer Coaching Program recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime coaching education visit to Madrid, Spain. A combination of faculty, students and friends of the program enjoyed exclusive club-wide access to Spanish giants Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Getafe and Rayo Vallecano. Participants were able to gain a unique insight into youth development and coaching education in some of the world’s premier soccer clubs with impressive records in developing some of the world’s finest soccer players and coaches.

The Ohio University group was able to watch a variety of academy training sessions ranging from the U9’s through to the senior first teams. As guests of each club, the group also had the opportunity to interact with the professional academy coaching staff and technical directors in seminar sessions hosted at the training bases of the four La Liga teams. In addition, the group’s accommodation was based at the Spanish FA headquarters, home to all national team squads. The OHIO group was able to watch the Spanish Men’s National U17’s as well as the Spanish Women’s Futsal Team in preparation for international tournaments. 

While the coaches had a packed schedule, there was still some time to enjoy the sights in the famous Madrid city center. Plus, the group was fortunate enough to obtain tickets for the Champions League Semi-Final second leg between Real Madrid vs. Manchester City at the legendary Bernabeu Stadium and witnessed the emphatic scenes as Madrid booked its place into the final with a 1-0 victory. The following weekend saw the group’s second visit to the stadium watching a dramatic game against Valencia in which a Cristiano Ronaldo double secured a 3-2 victory for the home side.

“In my over 50 years of involvement in soccer, I have been fortunate to have had experiences that have positively impacted my abilities as a player, coach, administrator and coaching educator that are too numerous to count,” said David Carr, program coordinator for the Ohio University Online MSC Program in Soccer Coaching. “Our recent trip to Madrid, coordinated by Ohio University’s Michael Sup through UK tour company Complete Sports Solutions and so expertly managed by our hosts Borja Gomez and Jose Abarca in Madrid, was pure magic. To have direct access to four La Liga Clubs and National Team training at the Cuidad de Futbol deepened the passions that each member of our contingent already had. While this trip was the first of many that we hope to arrange for faculty, students, alumni and friends of the master’s degree in soccer program, it will be tough to beat, but we will try. “

"The coaching education trip organized by Ohio University surpassed all expectations,” said Marlon LeBlanc, head coach of West Virginia University Men’s Soccer. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, but never have I been able to experience the access we had during this trip. Each and every day was filled from start to finish, with each day outdoing the previous. As coaches, we are always striving to learn more, so that we can be better coaches for our players. Ohio University delivered this opportunity on all levels through access to some of the best clubs in the best footballing country on earth and, just as importantly, through dialogue and collaboration with the team of coaches that I had the privilege of spending nine wonderful days in Madrid with."

For an in-depth personal account of the trip, please visit tour participant Jeremy Hurdle’s blog posting, which offers a unique insight into the group’s experiences while studying some of the best professional soccer organizations in the world.

Plans are already underway for next year’s trip to Europe with a number of destinations available. If you are interested in learning more about the experience or if you may be interested in joining next year’s group, please feel free to reach out to Michael Sup at nscaaonline@ohio.edu.

Michael Sup is the assistant coordinator of the Ohio University MSC Program in Soccer Coaching.