Interview with Loui Blake

Almost 7 years ago to the day, Loui Blake returned from Mexico City, where’d he been working with Coerver Coaching Mexico on their academy model. Having been so impressed with the training style, and upon meeting the UK director and hearing the work being done in the UK with premier league academies, he rushed at the opportunity to move back to Norwich and begin the programme here. After 3 years, working with over 200 players per week and trips to AC Milan, Stoke city, Birmingham City and a host of other clubs, he moved to London. As of this month, he’s since moved back to Norwich and in the process of launching a new programme, with close friend and business partner Declan Rudd, the former NCFC & current Preston North End Goalkeeper. We caught up with him to ask a few questions!

What was the motivation to launch a new football programme in Norfolk?

In big cities like London, the kids have so many advanced training opportunities, whether that be in professional clubs or independent academies, so overall the standard of competition is higher. I don’t believe players here have access, at scale, to those same options. That’s clearly reflected in the volume of professional players that originate from this area. After speaking to Declan, one of only a handful Norfolk-born players to be playing professionally today, we wanted to come up with a programme that replicates an elite environment and challenges them at the edge of their capabilities, whilst developing them as people and of course, having fun.

Where does the name come from?

The name derives from our commitment to utilising the latest equipment, techniques & software to provide a truly professional and innovative experience. We’ve source some exciting new training equipment, whilst using iPads to give instant video feedback help players see exactly what they’re doing. We’re also excited to be working with TagPay, which allows players to sign in & out via their wristband, whilst storing key health & contact data.

What makes FFE stand out?

We have great player to coach ratios & all head coaches are minimum UEFA B licence holders, the minimum requirement for professional club academy coaches in the premier league. We have our own philosophy and training methodology, focusing on creativity and technical skill, which we believe is highly enjoyable. We also pay key attention to our players mentality, encouraging a positive but competitive attitude.

Who is FFE for?

We want to offer a fully inclusive player performance pathway from 3 to 17 years old, for boys and girls. To begin with, we’ll be working with players in Norfolk via our future academy (3-5 years), academy (6-13 years) and GK academy (6-13 years.)  We’re also working with local teams! Last summer we launched our international programme in London, offering players from around the world the opportunity to play & train in London for 10 days. This is something we will continue to grow, whilst offering training for 13-17 year old players at the start of the new season.

What do you hope to achieve with FFE?

To provide a positive, safe & enjoyable learning environment for players & teams. To offer a professional, alternative training programme that addresses the needs of players in an exciting way. To grow beyond our central Norwich centre (Goals football) into other areas of the county!

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