OFC Goalies Academy

“A good goalkeeper is worth 15 points a season.” – Sir Alex Ferguson

Lots of people (especially in youth soccer) sometimes do not give the goalkeeping position the attention that it requires. There is as much nuance and skill-acquisition in goalkeeping as there is with any other position on the field. At Okanagan FC, we have made it a priority to improve our goalkeeping programs, and have been delighted at the progress our keepers have made under the guidance of Tom McGill (Our specialized goalkeeping instructor). We hope that over the next few phases, Okanagan FC develops a reputation for developing quality young keepers through excellent training and instruction.

“For a goalkeeper, there is no hiding place.” – Brad Friedel

The goalkeeping position in soccer is a unique challenge, and is unlike any other role on the team. A strong goalkeeper will never be able to win a game on their own, but they can certainly save one! Similarly, a weak goalkeeping moment can cost a team 90 minutes of hard work in one single moment if the goalkeeper is unprepared or makes a mistake.

So what are the building blocks of a quality goalkeeper? Of course athleticism is important… power, agility and quickness are crucial components when considering the desired qualities in a keeper. They must also be proficient with their diving and handling ability through a wide variety of situations, ranging from shot-stopping to the ability to intercept crosses and through-passes before they materialize in a shooting opportunity. These key attributes must also be layered on top of excellent balance/footwork, a quality and consistent set position, and a solid understanding of positioning in relation to the goal.

The modern goalkeeper must also possess good ability with the ball at their feet, and be comfortable with starting attacks from the defense, this puts a demand on goalkeepers that they be comfortable with receiving the ball from their defenders, as well as being able to distribute competently through a range of short/long passes, aerial kicks and throws/rolls.

Of course, this doesn’t even touch on a keeper’s ability to effectively organize and communicate with their defenders…

“As a goalkeeper, you need to be good at organizing the people in front of you and motivating them. You need to be able to see what’s going on and react to the threats.” – Peter Shilton

At Okanagan FC, our specialized goalkeeper coach is very familiar with the challenges of training competitive young goalkeepers, and looks to guide our players throughout the learning process by delivering a variety of focused, engaging and challenging sessions. OFC Goalkeeper training will be an enjoyable and satisfying fit for any aspiring goalkeepers.

The Academy Environment

Okanagan FC and Soccaskool academy are a fantastic place to start on your development path. Our coaches have many years of experience working with players along the early stages of this process, with many of our graduates now competing in the BCSPL, playing on the BC Provincial Team, or even having earned a spot in the full time development program of Vancouver Whitecaps. We base our programs around technical development in a fun, engaging, high-energy environment.

The desire to play quality, simple soccer comes hand in hand with a development process that starts at a young age. As a “mini” it is most important that a player be able to perform individual actions with the ball, such as a wide range of ways to stop the ball and change direction. These players also should be able to begin understanding the foundations of 1v1 play, and how to advance the ball beyond an opponent. As the development process advances, the players need to be guided in their discovery of team-play, and taught how to work together in conjunction with their teammates to deal with slightly more complex soccer situations like 2v1, 3v2, 3v3 and even up to their 4v4 training game format.

“Playing football is very simple, playing simple football is the hardest thing there is.”     Johan Cruyff

At Okanagan FC, we believe that to get the optimum experience from the game of soccer, that everything should begin and end with the ball… but in a game where two teams are constantly locked in a battle for control over one ball, there are complications to this.

“The most specific points of attention with the youngest players are the basic technical skills involved in playing 4v4 in training… passing, receiving and dribbling – to advance the ball or beat an opponent….these sessions serve as the basis wherein ingredients such as time, space, direction, speed, opponents, enjoyment and challenge play a role. The good cook (coach) knows how to play with these ingredients.”     Rinus Michels (UEFA Coach of the Century)

We are proud of our Academy Program, and of the players we have worked with and helped to develop over the years.

www.soccaskool.com for information and registration (currently registering for November and December indoor classes). Information and registration for January and February classes coming soon.

Tough Weekend as the PCSL Playoff Race Warms Up

Tigers 3-2 Okanagan FC

The Okanagan FC PCSL team started a tough back-to-back weekend with an away match to FC Tigers, who are now top of the division with 23 points.

OFC’s leading scorer, Randy Hubber, almost got the visitors off to the perfect start… only to be denied by a string of solid saves by the Tigers’ goalkeeper. OFC were off to a bright start, but weren’t able to take their chances.

Tigers grew into the game midway through the first half, and moved the ball well. Showing the quality that now has them on top of the table. OFC’s defence held strong, but was eventually broken in spectacular fashion, when Tigers’ central midfielder blasted a shot into the top corner from 30 yards.

Despite their strong second half record this season, OFC quickly found themselves 3-0 down with two lapses of concentration soon after the break. Tigers’ forwards were clinical with their finishing, leaving OFC keeper Carson Murray little chance with any of the goals.

Character is shown in these moments though, as Okanagan FC piled on late pressure in the last 15 minutes. The team relentlessly attacked until the final whistle, never giving up on the result. They were rewarded with a goal from Shaun Pilcher, and then a second in the 89th minute from Christian Artavia. Both goals coming as a result of quality crosses from the left wing.

In the final moments, OFC pressed hard for the equalizer, hitting the bar and carving out a clear breakaway opportunity … but the Tigers’ keeper held strong and the final result was a 3-2 defeat for OFC on the road.

Okanagan FC 1-3 Khalsa Sporting Club

Sunday saw OFC host Khalsa Sporting Club, the PCSL’s current League and Playoff Champion. The teams had met just one week earlier, with OFC winning 2-0 on the road.

The hosts started quickly, feeding from the energy of the home crowd (400) at the Apple Bowl. A couple of early attempts could definitely have been converted, one header from winger Christian Artavia missed by inches.

Against the run of play, Khalsa scored a fantastic free kick from 30 yards out. The ball whipped over the wall and kissed the post on its way in… 1-0.

OFC responded positively to this goal however, and substitute Alex Thompson had soon won the hosts a penalty with some excellent work down the right wing. Despite scoring one the previous weekend, the Khalsa goalkeeper made a good save to his bottom right to deny Alex the equalizer.

The equalizer would come though, from a Markus Roth free kick just before half time. From right on the edge of the box, The German midfielder curled the ball around the wall and beat the goalkeeper to his bottom left, a tremendous strike!

Khalsa were much more threatening in the second half, and their striker capitalized twice with fantastic finishes into the top left corner of the Okanagan net. With a 2 goal deficit and 15 minutes to play, it wasn’t looking good for OFC.

Once again, Okanagan never gave up on the match… Brandon McCallum and Fabrice Fanfani both hit the woodwork in the second half, the finishing touch was all that was missing for the home team.

Overall though, two very competitive and hard-fought games against quality opponents for Okanagan FC… and a fantastic crowd in the stadium who had a great time, watching some quality local soccer – the club now sit 2 points behind local rivals Kamloops Wolfpack in the race for playoffs. The two teams meet each other, in what will be a crucial match this Saturday July 13 at the Apple Bowl. The team have 2 home back-to-back weekends left, all games against the current top 4, come out and support!

Okanagan FC vs Kamloops Wolfpack – Saturday, July 13th – 4:00 – Apple Bowl

Okanagan FC vs Victoria Highlanders – Sunday July 14th – 12:00 – Apple Bowl

Okanagan FC vs Surrey United – Saturday July 20th – 4:00 – Apple Bowl

Okanagan FC vs FC Tigers – Sunday July 21st – 1:00 – Apple Bowl

 

Huge Wins on the Road for Okanagan FC

When the PCSL fixture list was released at the start of the year, this looked like a very difficult mid season road trip for the new Okanagan FC PCSL team….back to back away matches with powerhouse club, and top of the league Surrey Utd, followed by current PCSL league champions Khalsa Sporting Club.

Surrey United  0-1  Okanagan FC

OFC were struggling with injuries going into this game, but that was not at all noticeable as the match kicked off and OFC immediately went on the offensive, controlling possession of the ball for long periods and coming close to scoring on several occasions. The opening half hour followed the same pattern, and Surrey were definitely taken aback by the quality of the OFC team. Tempers became frayed as the home side failed to get a grip on the game and, towards the end of the first half, the match developed into a more scrappy affair. OFC lost their rhythm a bit and, having failed to take advantage of their good start, found themselves suddenly under pressure as Surrey looked to make use of one of a number of free kicks conceded around the edge of the box. OFC were thankful to hear the HT whistle and were able to regroup during the interval.

The second half was very even, and continued to be a bad tempered match…there was nothing to choose between the two teams, and it became apparent that a single goal would be enough to settle the game. The breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Alex Thompson got the wrong side of his defender and drove past him, drawing a clumsy challenge from the Surrey player….the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and it was Thompson himself who stepped confidently up and drilled home the penalty.

Surrey tried in vain to get the equalizer…the OFC back four stayed solid and centre backs Sam McDonald and Shaun Pilcher were in no mood to let go of a precious lead in a very important match. Full time came and OFC celebrated what looked like an unlikely 3 points.

Khalsa Sporting Club  0-2  Okanagan FC

On Sunday, OFC travelled to New Westminster to take on Khalsa in another difficult game. Khalsa started the match very brightly and OFC were on the back foot for most of the first half. Once again though, the Okanagan back line stood firm, with goalkeeper Harry Butler behind them in great form. Like the previous day, the visitors were glad to hear the half time whistle and be able to regroup and make some changes.

The second half was completely different, with OFC looking much better organized and more dangerous in attack. The game turned into a real back and forth match between two good teams playing nice soccer. The better goalscoring chances were falling to OFC, however, and they were looking the more likely team to break the deadlock.

christian

Pacey winger Christian Artavia was causing the home defence a lot of issues, and it was him who opened the scoring in the 77th minute, beating the keeper from close range. Khalsa immediately went on all out offensive, looking to tie the game up. Three minutes into stoppage time, the hosts threw everybody including the keeper into the OFC box for a corner. Goalkeeper Harry Butler topped off a fine performance by catching the ball under severe pressure and launching it down the other end to set striker Randy Hubber up for a breakaway goal, which he netted in style. Final score 2-0 to the visitors.

A fantastic weekend for OFC….extending their unbeaten run to 5 matches as we move into the second half of the season, and moving into the playoff places

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OFC Frustrated by Mid Isle in PCSL

Okanagan FC  0-0  Mid Isle Mariners

OFC were frustrated by a stubborn Mid Isle Mariners visiting team in PCSL action at The Apple Bowl on Saturday. Played on a scorching hot, typical Kelowna afternoon, the game quickly developed a pattern of OFC pressure met by stubborn Mid Isle defence.

OFCvsMariners (52 of 78)

Once again, the crowd turnout was decent and around 400 people came out to support their new PCSL team. OFC started brightly and went in search of the opening goal straight from kickoff. Several chances went begging and the home team were wasteful in front of the Mid Isle net….striker Alex Thompson missed the best chance of the half, firing wide after good work from Brandon McCallum down the right. OFC twice missed the target from dangerous free kick positions, and the game began to get frustrating for the home team. It seemed like only a matter of time until the opening goal came for OFC, but it was Mid Isle who should have had a penalty towards the end of the first half when their striker was brought down in the box on a breakaway…not given by the referee and a let off for the home team.

The second half followed the same pattern and Mid Isle parked a lot of players behind the ball and looked to settle for a draw. The heat took its toll on both sets of players and OFC struggled to maintain their intensity, most of their best second half opportunities coming from set pieces. Ultimately, the hosts had to settle for a disappointing draw and two home points dropped.

OFCvsMariners (77 of 78)

OFC’s Spencer Young was consoled by Oggie at the end of the game, and it’s onwards to a tricky road trip up next with games back to back at Surrey United and Khalsa Sporting Club.