I’m currently in the Portugal for the 2010 NSCAA Algarve Cup Symposium, and I’m posting insights and info as we get to matches and training sessions- I hope you enjoy the updates!
Today was one of the most amazing days I could have asked for in the Algarve. Photo Above – I can’t believe I was on the pitch with Tina Theune-Meyer, April Heinrichs and Pia Sundhage at the same time. Seriously, I get goose bumps now even thinking about it!
I woke up a bit early this morning to get some things organized and call Sweden’s coaching staff about their training schedule. Turns out they had a session at the exact same time as the U.S. WNT, and the vote was unanimous in favor of the Americans. The Swedes do train on Monday though, so we may actually get to see them then.
First up, Montechoro. We had a great Q&A session with April Heinrichs and Dr. Colleen Hacker, who told us about their strengths and weaknesses as coaches – it was insightful! The Norwegian WNT team arrived at 10:30am, so we only caught the opening minutes of their practice before we had to leave for the USA session, which was set to begin at 11am. I did, however, give an FC Gold Pride scarf to Solveig Gulbrandsen, and a Washington Freedom scarf to Lene Mykjaland. 🙂
Afterward, we headed over to Guia, where the U.S. WNT team was training. The players had yesterday off, so today’s session was pretty high-energy. April Heinrichs described it as “Medium to Medium-High” level of effort at any practice for the U.S. team. We thought this was interesting considering it’s the day before a game.
After the session, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach, Pia Sunhage, came over to speak with our group. She was gracious to give us detailed and heartfelt information about their match against Norway earlier in the week. She talked about the training session she conducted today, and what her goals are for the Algarve Cup. In sum, she said this tournament was for developing her team for the Women’s World Cup 2011.
The goalkeepers stayed late to finish their training with coach Paul Rogers. They worked on saving long crosses and short-range finishing. Afterward, two coaches participating in the NSCAA Symposium – Rachel and Jamie Lindvall – stayed late to get their Northwest Nazarine goalkeeper, Tanya Zickefoose’s hand-drawn picture of Hope Solo signed. Hope was gracious, engaged and just all around awesome – she proudly signed the pict.
A group of us then jumped in the van and drove 45 minutes to Lagos, which officially ranks as one of the most beautiful spots on earth!!! You know all those touristy photos you see of the cliffs and bright aqua-colored water. Those are from Lagos. Following the van-driving adventure of a lifetime (video to follow), we also ate lunch at a great little spot downtown.
To wrap up the evening, we came back to the hotel for our evening lecture series. Our group was divided into three “coaching staffs” to present a match analysis. It’s pretty cool to hear many different perspectives on one match. Especially at the end when April offered her perspective. Then, Dr. Hacker gave an awesome presentation called, “Growth through Adversity: Lessons Learned from the Competitive Cauldron.” Finally, UEFA “A” Licensed coach, Jitka Klimkova, shared great information and details about the UEFA licensing program.
For tomorrow, we’ll be watching USA vs. Sweden at 3pm local, then zooming about 20 minutes to a different stadium for Germany vs. China at 5pm. Follow http://www.twitter.com/nscaawomen for all the live and in-game color commentary!