Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Taipei European School fosters soccer culture in Taipei with Victory League

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Royal Dragons, left, and MFA Juniors line up to shake hands ahead of their Victory League U10 Championship match at the Taipei European School on Nov. 5.

Photo courtesy of Royal Blues

Walking into the Taipei European School (TES) on Nov. 5, then heading to its soccer pitches, there was a beehive of activity with groups of kids and adults running about, kicking balls and milling around.

Although the atmosphere was pleasant on a cool autumn day, the place was filled with excitement and enthusiasm, with hints of intensity and competitiveness among the grown-ups as they shouted encouragement to their children.

It was a match day for the TES Victory League on the school’s two outdoor soccer pitches, with teams playing in under-8, under-10 and under-12 age groups.

The two main forces for the league’s success are TES director of educational services Kerry Nockolds and Michael Chandler of Master Football Academy (MFA).

They are supported by people who want to see children enjoy competitive soccer matches and help the game take root in Taiwan.

“TES believes that kids should have an all-round education. So besides academia, they have extracurricular activities to enjoy music, dance, sports, arts or learn new hobbies,” Nockolds told the Taipei Times.

TES provides a venue for students to have after-school soccer practice on its all-weather outdoor pitches and holds league matches on the weekends, with MFA helping to coach the children.

“From there, we decided to set up a proper league environment to play competitive matches, for the kids to experience the fun of playing in a team and see how they measure up against other teams,” Nockolds said. “Working with MFA gave an opportunity for those students interested in playing football to compete with kids of the same age in the Taipei area.”

He said the league is inclusive, with the Heartbreakers FC all-girl team playing alongside the boys.

The season runs from October to April and the league is set up with two divisions for each of the three age groups — a Premier League and a Championship, following England’s elite soccer structure, Chandler said.

“We teach kids the basic skills like dribbling, passing and shooting. It’s important to let them have fun and at this level they don’t yet need to learn about tactics or specialized techniques,” Chandler said.

He said the season culminates in April with a Football Festival, with championship matches for the titles, as well as the Golden Boot, Golden Glove and League Most Valuable Players awards.

On Nov. 5, the Royal Dragons played MFA Juniors in the U10 Championship, with the Royal Dragons, top of the standings, claiming a 5-0 victory.

The Royal Dragons played with more hustle and were usually quicker to the ball, with coach Robert Iwanicki, also head coach of Taiwan Premier League side the Royal Blues, pacing the sideline, giving instructions and making substitutions at regular intervals so that all the members of the squad were rotated and got some playing time.

The running of the league obviously requires dedicated efforts and collaboration from many people to make the whole thing come together, Chandler said.

He said the league had received support and help from the players’ parents, TES officials, junior soccer club administrators, local referees and also corporate donators of support, time and resources, including Volkswagen, Taian Insurance, Babi Corp and Eleven Sports.

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