From left: Gabriel Berg, George Green, Rohan Sriram, Sachin Samuel, Jordan Ollerenshaw, Akom ‘Got’ Khongphatcharask
Two years after plans were first set in motion for the football academy collaboration between British International School, Phuket (BISP) and Brazilian champions Cruzeiro Esporte Club, seven student-athletes will travel to Brazil to flaunt their skills in front of the country’s top youth coaches.
“It’s a big opportunity to showcase what we’ve got over there to the biggest clubs in Brazil. It doesn’t come everyday,” says 16-year-old Jordan Ollerenshaw, who will travel with six other footballers to Cruzeiro’s Youth Academy headquarters in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for one month at the end of June.
The trip is a milestone for the Phuket-based BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy, as it will mark the first time they have sent representatives to train amongst and compete with Brazil’s best young footballers.
Over four weeks, the BISP students will attend daily training sessions, compete in friendly matches, attend a Cruzeiro match, and rub elbows with some of the sport’s best up-and-coming players – not to mention have the chance of acquiring a youth contract with the club if they make a great impression.
“It would be a dream come true if some of them sign a contract,” says BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy Head Coach Jonathas Candido. “Is it a realistic dream after just two years of the academy? I say yes, but ultimately it depends on the Cruzeiro youth coaches if they give them the opportunity.”
The Cruzeiro youth setup in Belo Horizonte has produced some of the top Brazilian footballers of the last generation, including national players Ronaldo, Fred and Alex. The idea of making an annual or bi-annual trip to Brazil has been part of the plan for the BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy from the outset.
“This is a unique opportunity for the students, because the level is really good and the team selects players from all around Brazil. We just started the BISP programme recently, but we have good talent here. My expectations is that our kids will play at the same level as it exists in Cruzeiro,” says Candido.
The seven students are George Yusuff (age 17) and George Green (16) from England, Jordan Ollerenshaw (16) from Malaysia, Gabriel Berg (16) from Brazil, Sachin Samuel (15) from Malaysia, and Rohan Sriram (15) from Australia, and Akom ‘Got’ Khongphatcharask (17) from Thailand.
“The football in Brazil is pretty quick, but we’re going to do well. Coach Jonathas has helped prepare us with a lot of quality training which helps us improve every time we play,” says Berg, a midfielder.
Before the launch of the BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy, there was very little football at the school, with practice sessions usually limited to just a few times per week, according to the students. Now, with almost a full year of training together under their belts competing under the BISP Cruzeiro banner, the student footballers say they are more excited than nervous as the date of departure approaches.
As it turns out, the seven are going to the Cruzeiro HQ at a great time, since the Kazakh Under 15 national team have recently signed on to train at the Belo Horizonte centre for the next three years, meaning the BISP boys will be exposed to not only the Brazilian style, but also a strong European side.
Regardless of what happens, Coach Candido wants his players to take the experience in their stride and come back from Brazil with a better understanding of what it takes to become a top-flight footballer.
“This trip is going to add a lot to their development, both personally and on the pitch. I hope they come back here different players, because it’s not about the trip – it’s about the level of football. I expect them to come back here more mature. This experience is going to be massive for them,” says Candido.
Following the success of the BISP Cruzeiro Football Academy, the Cruzeiro Soccer School launches at BISP in August 2015. It will provide an extra footballing opportunity to children aged 2-14 years old, and is open to boys and girls of all experience levels and abilities, and BISP and non-BISP students alike. For more information, click here.