There is a lot of talk about the lack of team sports for young people since last March and especially since October. Imagine spending more than 10 months without playing a real competitive game.
This is what the young people who grow up in the CF Montreal Academy are going through, which has not played any league game since March.
“We were blocked in large part by the border because our adversaries are almost all Americans”, explained the director of the Academy Patrick Leduc.
“We played a few friendlies this fall until we fell into the red zone. “
A whole gymnastics
As this is a sport-study program, young people can continue to play their sport to a certain extent, but everything is still quite complex.
“We have players in several schools and several classes, it represents quite a gymnastics”, summarizes Leduc, specifying that occasional outbreaks add a layer.
“You can’t play a match when you only have half a squad. “
And the training sessions, which take place at the Marie-Victorin Sports Complex, are by no means conventional.
“We cannot play matches and these are training with distancing,” explains Leduc.
“As far as health measures are concerned, it looks a lot like what we did with the pros without the tests because it is very expensive.
“Let’s say there is a limit to kicking a ball without being able to play a real game.
“We work on technique and physical form. The players are happy to be on the pitch, but there is mental fatigue and the players are eager to start playing again. “
Let’s talk about this mental fatigue. It affects everyone and young people are far from safe.
“We talk about it, we met people. They talk about it openly, you can tell they find it difficult. They are deprived of many of the normal things in a young person’s life. They were deprived of finals last year. If there was no frustration, it would be abnormal. But I don’t see any inappropriate behavior. “
Patrick Leduc maintains that the young members of the Academy are however doing all they can to hang on to the positive.
“When it’s been three times that your group has been arrested because there is a case, it’s difficult. But I feel a resilience.
“Young people want to do everything to make it work, they follow the instructions, but they also understand when there is a stoppage. Their discipline is to be cited as an example. “
Everywhere the same
“The matches are the yardstick, but we’re pretty much all in the same situation. “
“I was talking to my colleague from Toronto and they are completely at a standstill and it’s happening virtually,” explains Patrick Leduc.
However, he does not hide the fact that all academies do not evolve in the same context, which generates a certain frustration.
“On the other hand, I see that in the south of the United States they play games and I think that shouldn’t be the case. But I admit that there is a part of me that feels a certain jealousy. ”
Disciplined young people
Missing nearly a year of competition, can that slow down the development of young soccer players? Not that much, according to Patrick Leduc.
He prefers to be more circumspect in his approach to the situation.
“We did some tests on Tuesday morning to see where they are physically and at first glance, they don’t seem to have lost ground.
“The players were disciplined and continued to train in periods of confinement. There are some players who reach their form by playing, for sure those are penalized a bit at the moment. “
Among the pros
For less than two years, seven young people from the Academy have made the jump with the professional team of CF Montreal.
Despite the very long break imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Patrick Leduc does not believe that their progress towards the professional ranks will be slowed down.
“I choose not to see him like that. From a statistical point of view, there are times when there are more players who are promoted and other times when there are fewer.
“It can go according to the needs of the professional team. It is true that there can be a backlash, but I see players who are very talented at all age levels and at the end of the day it’s always up to them to show what they are capable of. to do. “
As it is far from certain that young people will be able to participate in the activities of the all new MLS Next, the league created for the academies last fall, we are actively looking for solutions.
“We are working on both fronts,” says Patrick Leduc. We know that the situation can evolve positively, negatively or that it can stagnate. We had discussions with Soccer Quebec in a scenario where we would play against a local opposition.
“It’s not easy to think of playing in a local competition without knowing if we will resume our activities in our American league without being able to finish what we started. “
That said, the CF Montreal Academy teams should not have any difficulty finding opponents when the good weather returns.
“There is no shortage of people who want to face us,” assures Leduc.