Talking points with Gabriel Dumitru: "Miracles don't just happen, you have to work"

A few talking points from last weekend, with Gabriel Dumitru. It's a must read, dear friends. About strenght, lifestyle, hard work and opportunities...

It's Wednesday evening, almost 8 PM and the night is falling. I hear the whistle! The Eagles training session at the Oak Leisure Centre in Northern London is over and the players cheerfully head towards the dressing-room. Under the floodlights, the coaches gather the balls and training apparel. They join the kids, walking steadily behind the little Eagles from the Academy.

However, there's one person that doesn't leave the pitch just yet. Gabriel Dumitru is the only one that stays behind and slowly walks the lenght of the ground. Focused? Worried? I follow him to catch up for a quick chat. "Hey, Mister. Is everything allright?". He turns around and a natural smiles instantly rises on his face. "Yes, Alex, thank you. I was just thinking...". We know him so well by now. Always thinking. About the next game, about the opposition. Always thinking about new methods to help his players improve. Always thinking.

We lost a few games during last weekend, when only the U9 and U11-12 groups managed nice wins. The competiton in the London Premier Youth League is stiff and we're always trying to match (and exceed) the level of our opponents. But it's not an easy task. So Gabriel Dumitru starts pinpointing the biggest challenge for our Eagles teams.

"We can't hide behind the finger. Technically speaking, we are truly gifted and we can see the quality of our plays improving, week by week. But when it comes to one on one plays, almost always we're at a disadvantage. Look at the Crystal Palace players! Their U13 players look like they're 18! That's because they have great selection opportunities and they can sign any player they want. These big teams..they won't always outplay you, but when they throw the ball behind your defenders, you're always going to be in trouble. They're great physically and we need to improve massively on that. However, there's not a lot you can do with an 8, 9 or 10 year old. These youngsters are going to improve in time, but they can't hit the gym just yet. So it's hard to balance the physical play, because strenght and physique are natural traits, which you're born with or not. Crystal Palace is a big name, they can afford to select the strongest of the strong, unlike other Academies. We have to fight that".

What can we do about it, then?, I ask.

"Well, it's something the parents need to seriously consider. Everything that goes into the preparation of a player also has to do with lifestyle. The players lifestyle, but the family lifestyle as well. A young football player needs to be well rested and have a great nutrition. He needs to be supported on all plans. Get him to exercise as often as possible and he can make it to the top. But if you're only relying on a few hours of training, that won't be enough".

Ok, but how can parents know if their child can become a pro or not?

"The Eagles Football Academy is playing at the highest level now. Every week, our players are watched by scouters from all the Premier League giants. They see talent, they sign it! Our Academy will never stop a young player from going at the next level. If Chelsea or Arsenal want you, you're free to go. That's what parents need to understand. It takes more than talent to catch attention. The players need the best food and the best mental preparation. And they need to be serious in training. Only then a Premier League club will be interested!"

We walk back together to the dressing room. It's been 10 minutes since we started talking and we can see the players and parents heading for the cars, driving back home. Another day is finished. Is the work finished, though? No chance. "Every day you need to become better, to have a better attitude about football. If something went wrong in practice, be eager to correct it. You had 5 shots on target in training? Make it 6 next time! That's all there is to it. Become better, mentally, physically and technically. The rewards will come later. But you can't just walk around on the pitch, waiting for miracles to happen. They won't".

Spot on, gaffer.

I'm walking home, thinking on the way about the development of our Academy.

Gabi Dumitru is heading for his office, to implement this development, preparing new drills and assessing every player from the individual reports compiled by his coaches.

That's what it's all about. The love for football and the hard work. Day in and day out. It doesn't work otherwise. It will never do.

Ce face diferența între succes și eșec. Gabi Dumitru: "Nu aștepta miracole!"