The International Center of European Football (The ICEF) is the leading professional football player development institution in Europe. Players reach their maximum potential on and off the field, through intensive football training sessions, dedicated recovery sessions, and fitness sessions. In this article we follow a week in the life of an ICEF player, throughout their various activities.
The ICEF Training
The week starts off with players taking the field for a training session focused on aspects of the game that they need to improve on individually and as a team, based on the competitive performances from the week prior. During these training sessions players work on individual techniques and skills such as juggling, passing, and shooting to establish the necessary level needed to succeed at the highest level, as well as team tactics such as offense to defense transitioning and team pressing. The ICEF training programs use the best practices of the world-renowned UEFA and FFF methodologies, preparing players to be successful and confident in all game situations, ensuring their long-term development.
Typically, the training sessions also have a fitness component to them to make sure players are at the top of their game physically, focusing on either speed and agility to improve players’ sprint speed, acceleration, or endurance so players are prepared to play a full 90-minute game and more.
Training with the Pro Team
On certain days, highly talented players like Pedro, pictured here, participate in training sessions with Thonon Evian Grand Genève, (TEGG FC), the ICEF’s pro club and the region’s biggest professional football club. Training with professional players allows the ICEF players to be fully immersed in the European style of play and gives them a taste of professional European football.
The opportunity for youth players to experience training sessions with a professional team is unique to the ICEF. By training with Grand Genève FC, the ICEF players are given invaluable advice and coaching points from the professional players and the coaching staff to take their game to the next level. In these sessions, the ICEF players are held to the same standards as the professional players so they experience and understand what is expected from them at the next level.
Fitness and Performance Center (Strength and Conditioning)
The ICEF’s fitness center has been put in place to help the ICEF players develop their strength and conditioning off the field. Complete with a full gym with weightlifting machines, dumbbells, spinning cycles, and a spa with hydrotherapy and a massage room, the fitness and performance center at the ICEF provides everything a player would need to improve their strength and conditioning.
The ICEF player performance preparation and use of the fitness center is overseen by Stephane Caterina, the ICEF’s Head of Performance. At the start of the season, Stephane sets up certain individual physical evaluations to measure the performance of each player. The results of these evaluations are used as a base from which to measure progress throughout the season. Using the data from these first evaluations, Stephane defines a collective training program for all the ICEF players and includes individual athletic planning so each player can work on what they most need to improve on.
Due to the intensity of the training sessions on and off the field at the ICEF, recovery sessions are a crucial part of the players’ schedules. All players take part in two to three recovery sessions per week. The recovery sessions ensure that the players receive the necessary treatment for proper recovery. These sessions include ice baths and sauna sessions, yoga, meditation, or a combination of them, which each have their own set of benefits.
Ice baths and sauna sessions help with minimizing muscle fatigue throughout the week, to prevent injuries and to ensure players’ bodies feel fresh for the competitive matches on the weekend.
The yoga and meditation sessions have both physical and mental benefits to aid players in their development. The physical benefits from yoga are increased player flexibility, to prevent muscle injuries, and deep recovery from muscle fatigue and trauma. The mental benefits from meditation are stress management, mental preparation, and the formation of a right mindset.
Throughout the week, the ICEF residents have dedicated time to focus on their schoolwork. The ICEF has partnered with leading educational institutions to provide world-class academic preparation in English at every level, from middle and high school to higher education. They are accompanied by experienced and licensed educators. Thanks to a low student-teacher ratio, students receive individualized attention and have flexible schedules, ensuring players reach their academic objectives.
Extra-curricular activities & Excursions
To complement the training sessions at the ICEF, the coaches and staff consistently plan training and/or leisure excursions to take advantage of the incredibly unique location and surrounding areas. Excursions can include raquetting (snowshoe hiking) in the Evian Mountain, bootcamps at the beach, outings at Lake Geneva, sailing and many more. The main objective for these excursions is to facilitate team bonding to increase performance on the field and create unforgettable memories for our student-athletes.
The center also has its own lounge area equipped with a theatre style television for movies and football games, foosball (table soccer) and other activities so the student-athletes can have a great boarding life experience at the Center as well.