CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Georgia Olympic Development Program (ODP) immersed themselves in soccer excellence and trained at the Grande Sports World this past week.
The Olympic Development Program is run through US Youth Soccer, and the purpose is to identify a pool of players in each age group from which a National Team will be selected for international competition; to provide high-level training to benefit and enhance the development of players at all levels; and, through the use of carefully selected and licensed coaches, develop a mechanism for the exchange of ideas and curriculum to improve all levels of coaching.
Every state has ODP program, and five states have two teams (California, Ohio, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania).
Georgia’s ODP team arrived late on Friday night, and took to the pitch first thing Saturday morning in preparation for a match against Arizona youth club SC del Sol. Georgia ODP played three more matches, squaring off against a mixed Real Salt Lake U-16 squad on Monday, Arizona’s ODP 97 team on Tuesday, and wrapped up their stay against the Real Salt Lake U-16 Academy team on Wednesday.
Real Salt Lake Academy coaches led Georgia ODP players through a handful of training sessions during their stay.
Jim Robbins, coach of Georgia’s ODP team, spoke highly about the experience at the Grande Sports World saying, “I think it has been fantastic. It’s probably something that most of these guys have never done before. To come out to an environment like this with these facilities, they are awesome. And to play the level of teams we have played has been fantastic. It’s been an eye opener for a lot of our players.”
Robbins elaborated on how it had been beneficial for his team and how the development at the Grande Sports World has helped.
“It’s a combination of both. Some of the kids have never been out of the state of Georgia. You take them over here and they are not with their parents. They are not living at home, and they’re staying in the hotel by themselves. They have to learn to get to bed by themselves at a decent hour. Get up at the right time. Manage their down-time. That has been a learning experience for a lot of these kids. From a soccer side, the level of play has been very high in terms of competition. That is something that they may not see in the state of Georgia. We think our best game was against the Real Salt Lake U-16 Academy team. We’re coming in with a mixed group of kids, and to play that group of players was an eye opener, but a fantastic experience just to see the kids that are in the Development Academy. Training and trying to prepare to make the first team for Real Salt Lake. Our guys will get a good glimpse of the work that needs to be put in to be that type of player.
During Georgia’s stay in Casa Grande, the team visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which preserves a group of Ancient Pueblo Peoples Hohokam structures of the Pueblo III and Pueblo IV Eras.
Enjoy the photos below from Georgia ODP and to learn more about them visit their site georgiasoccer.org
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