Developmental programs are complex entities that require the allowance of guided discovery and emphasis on the “whole” player. The ODFC Rising Talent Program (RTP) is such a program as it addresses the early development phase of most of our Cesena USA players.
The RTP is broken down into two segments the Junior RTP (ages 5-6 years old) and our RTP (ages 7-9). The RTP has never deviated from a curriculum rich in coordination/balance and ball mastery. This innovative program teaches kids vital components of the game that have nothing to do with “how fast” or “how tall” they are and EVERYTHING to do with staying fit and learning about themselves. Overcoming hurdles (literally and figuratively), learning to balance yourself through the agility ladders and side stepping around cones all play a critical part in the development of coordination, balance and fitness. All of these components are needed as players develop and build up their inventory of skills with a soccer ball at their feet. Coaches and trainers understand that it’s all about increasing the challenges one step at a time in a methodical, thought provoking way.
The RTP also brings to the forefront another important but subtle component as it provides children the opportunity to “learn how to learn”. Just like academic learning, players need to adjust their perspective on learning and realize that the challenges that come with new concepts are fun. Andy Vera, Cesena USA Program Director expressed his thoughts this way, “most players enjoy playing a game (any game) if it’s challenging and enjoyable…RTP and the Cesena Program utilizes these components to teach.”
All these components introduced at the youngest age groups have proven to be essential in the Cesena Program. ODFC Director of Travel Program Operations, JJ Kern said this, “all our kids that go from RTP to Cesena USA see many of the same coaches, training techniques and even teammates…the seamless transition from one program to another is one of our greatest secrets.”
For those that have had the privilege of observing the RTP in action, have truly witnessed developmental programming at its best.