Fiorentina In Winter

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ACF Fiorentina In Winter
As New Zealanders enjoy their summer holiday, the Top Flight Football Academy strategic partners Soccer Italian Style are in the middle of their winter break.

Soccer Italian Style will return to Auckland in July 2016 providing young footballers with the opportunity to experience an elite Italian academy coaching experience.  This year Soccer Italian Style will also hold a players clinic in Wellington.

For founder Mirko Mazzantini, coach of Serie A club ACF Fiorentina U-14 team, the winter break is the optimum time of year to plan for a crucial six month programme.

Changes To The Junior Structure In Italy
In 2016 the Italian Football Federation will restructure the junior player pathway to create a more competitive environment for the nation’s best players.  The outcome of this change is that more Italian young players are prepared to step from age group football into senior reserves and then into Serie A or Serie B starting XIs.

Gone will be 8 U15 junior leagues spread across the country involving clubs from all levels of the game.  Instead the best clubs will be consolidated into 3 regional leagues.  ACF Fiorentina’s U-15 players will compete in the Northwest Division next season.

This model is similar to what has been developed to great success in Spain.  Having young players operating in a competitive environment, constantly being tested, accelerates development.

Mirko is responsible for ensuring that the U-14 players in his charge are given every chance of being selected into that U-15 group.  The winter break gives him the opportunity to tweak coaching programmes so that as many of the squad as possible have the chance to make the U-15 squad for the 2016-17 season.

Keeping Intensity High
To keep players focused on achieving their goal of making the U-15 squad, Mirko focuses on developing coaching drills that challenge and motivate his players.

“To be at the top as a coach you need to study.  I have a laptop for soccer, my ipad is for soccer, all my life is for soccer.”

This commitment to excellence means that Mirko is constantly developing innovative training drills. The latest examples are used to develop a system of play (4-3-3 for example) through technical exercises, thereby avoiding the waste of precious time doing classical shadow play training.

“All players need to be adept at passing and receiving the ball.  We focus on developing sessions that involve players rotating positions so that they become more versatile.

Players need to be able to understand other player’s positions so that they can respond during a match.

We also focus on players learning to create counter-movements during training.  Players need to move to create a passing options for teammates, as well as ensuring they have space to work in upon receiving the ball.”

The training sessions developed by Mirko replicate game day formations.

Making space through an overlapping run is a classical part of the 4-3-3 formation.  For players to make the right run they need to understand both their position and those of their teammates.

No rest for the players
While the winter break means no matches until January 7, players are still expected to complete technical sessions to improve dribbling, ball coordination and athleticism, notably the ability to change direction quickly.

The players take responsibility to train individually.

“Our players have an excellent mentality to work hard.  This impacts on team morale in a positive way.”

Soccer Italian Style 2016
The innovative approach presented by Mirko’s coaching philosophy was a key factor in Top Flight Football partnering with Soccer Italian Style.

More information on Soccer Italian Style’s visit to New Zealand will be provided in February.  Should you have any questions on either the Auckland or Wellington programmes please contact

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