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ICEF International Center of European Football - Boarding soccer academy in Europe

In preparation for the new season kicking-off on August 24th, Julien Bernard, Head Coach at the International Center of European Football, answered a few questions about last season, the programs and the overall performance of the residents at the center.

Learn more about ICEF’s Head Coach and General Technical Manager:

Early career

“I was a talented football player, preparing for a professional career. I played 2 years for the biggest professional French football academy, Olympique Lyonnais, and 3 years for Grenoble Foot 38 with famous players such as Olivier Giroud, Henri Bedimo, Michael Poté and Jeremy Berthod. However, I decided to put an end to my professional career as a player because my passion for coaching became stronger than my passion for playing. So at age 19, I started to study to become a UEFA A licensed coach to transmit the values conveyed by football and develop players.

Experience in Developing Players

“I initiated my coaching career at FC Lyon which is to this day, one of the best French clubs for non-professional players, and I have developed high potential players into professional players, among them:

  • Hamza Rafia – U23 Juventus FC and Tunisian national player
  • Marvin Tshibuabua – AS Saint-Etienne and U17 French national player
  • Adam Yousfi –  FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and U20 Tunisian national player
  • Kamal Bafounta – Borussia Dortmund Reserve player
  • Muamer Aljic – Clermont Foot player
  • Ayoub Meftai – Thonon Evian Grand Geneve FC player
  • Sabri Randjioui – LB Châteauroux player

They are my biggest pride and I work relentlessly to keep developing new players in the new generation of football requirements and play.”

Role at the International Center of European Football

“I am the Head Coach and General Technical Manager of the Pro Residency Program. My role is to organize and prepare all the football classes, training sessions and games. I supervise and manage the Technical Team and I am in charge of all technical aspects for the academy. I monitor and analyze players’ progress and performance and conduct follow-ups with them and their families.”

Training Methodology

“I believe in the excellence of the European methodology. Particularly the French methodology as I am a product of Olympique Lyonnais, where I learned the rigor, the dedication, and the work ethic beyond the tactical aspect of the game.
The football methodology that we implement in Europe, and specifically in France today, goes the extra mile. We are building very smart players who are acquiring a level of technicity, understanding and vision of the game higher than ever in the history of football. It is rarely a coincidence when a country wins the World Cup. It is a result of the player development system.”

Experience at the International Center of European Football

“I joined this wonderful venture in 2019, and I have felt only pride and pleasure working with the residents since then. I do believe that this football institution is special in the way that it prepares international players for the football of today, the way it nurtures its resident in a family atmosphere, the way it provides all the very best of the European experience but at the same time the way it challenges every individual to grow into elite and team-spirited players. I sincerely believe that there is a lot of talent throughout the world, however it is almost impossible for them to get selected in a professional football academy and play in the official leagues, the way that our international residents do. Our mission is to give players the opportunity to reach the highest level possible, for all who want to develop and play in Europe.”

About the 2019-2020 Residents

“It is hard to generalize the group, but I can say that in only a few months of intensive training, every single player made huge progress. They mastered the ball and demonstrated their impact on opponents. Each of our players stands out in his own way by his leadership, control of the ball, technique, communication skills, teamwork… I am proud of each and every single of them and of their potential. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic stopped their competitive progress. However, we have been able to work hand in hand from a distance. Thanks to technology and video support, all players have continued to train and progress thanks to constant communication. I have been able to analyze their technical skills improvement and provide individualized feedback and advice to each player. I am looking forward to seeing them again on the field in August!”

What Coach Bernard Looks for in Players

“The International Center of European Football, and by extension I, am looking for players who are passionate. Regardless of their home country, regardless of their qualities and weaknesses, we are here to train them to overcome obstacles and grow into outstanding players. I work only with players who are eager to do what’s best for the team and mature enough to surpass their objectives. Without passion, dedication and humility, skills are not enough. We all know that the majority will not become professional players, but all of them will reach their objectives and prepare for higher opportunities in life.”

Covid-19 Safety Measures

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our biggest concern has been to implement progressive and effective measures for the safety of our residents and staff. Now in phase-3 of reopening, we have elevated our standards and feel confident that the measures in place provide a safe, yet welcoming environment for our residents for next season. On the field, I have been working on limiting the size of training groups to maintain social distancing between players. We are also very privileged to reside in the Greater Geneva area, one of Europe’s lowest-risk areas, in an healthy region close to the Alps.”