Monday, 4 April 2011

Portsmouth University with Bruce Suraci

Please read below for my interview with Portsmouth University football development officer Bruce Suraci. It was published in the latest Football Focus magazine which can be viewed here for absolutely free! Included in the current issue are Queens Park Rangers, Chester and many more football clubs.

Portsmouth University

Portsmouth University are a club who pride themselves on being completely run by the students, for the students. The philosophy surrounding the club is one of providing a stepping stone for the University's students, to guide them towards being increasingly well-rounded; as players and people, when they they graduate.

Indeed, using the club's impressive facilities, the development of players' talents is something Football Development Officer, Bruce Suraci, is very proud of and admirably, regards developing players' skills higher than simply grinding out favourable results for the competing sides. “We have excellent, state of the art changing rooms and it is generally commented that our facility has an excellent playing surface that is not only very wide and long, but also flat and well cared for. This allows for ‘good football’ being played, where it is more feasible to look to pass the ball on the floor over shorter distances to pull opponents out of positions and look to use clever and inventive bits of play to score goals. This fits in directly with our club philosophy where we put performances and playing excellent football before results.”

Most satisfying for Bruce, is that the club have numerous success stories to prove their hard work is not in vain. “There are a number of excelling players who have pushed onto higher levels. Kieron Lewis, James Potton and Dan Cox were selected from a squad of eighteen that ventured over to Chicago, Illinois in June 2010 to play for Chicago Fire Under 23’s on a Club Scholarship. Kieron and James were also selected for Chicago Fire’s National Squad, competing and winning a National Cup in Kansas.”

While nurturing young talent is a priority, there is no doubt that domestic success with the University's Hampshire Premier Football League (HPFL) men's side (which Bruce also manages) is also extremely important to the club. With the current season nearing it's climax, it means that every point is a prisoner right now and although Bruce clearly believes that player's technical skills are important; gaining a mental toughness to win consistently is another vital attribute. “Without a doubt, we are looking to challenge for the title this season. We currently have a few games in hand on teams above us, and are also due to play all of these teams at home over the coming months. Although we do not pertain to obsess solely over results - given the developmental stage of the players we are working with - we do look to bring in an element of learning to win, where players are given information in order to gain specific outcomes of specific games.”

However, it is not just the men's game that is succeeding at Portsmouth University, so too is the women's. “We have an extremely strong ladies football section of the club. Currently, our Wednesday women’s team compete in the BUCS Premier League in the country and our Sunday women’s team compete in tier three of the national system, a mere three leagues off the Premier League in the country.”

Clearly, this could be a highly successful campaign for Portsmouth University Football Club, but Bruce is adamant there is still a lot of hard work to be done in what is a challenging economic climate. “Due to the recession all facets of life have been affected, and non-league football is no exception. We hope to overcome these adversities and achieve our goals, despite the challenges we face.”

Although times are hard, Bruce predicts a bright future for the football club. “In line with our 2010-2015 Football Development Programme, we aim to work closely with the Soccerette Academy to establish a complete pathway; recruiting players from the age of 4, progressing to Portsmouth College and the University of Portsmouth with the aim to finish the programme as part of the Soccerette Academy’s Annual Chicago Tour. The players who develop the greatest, gaining a Club Scholarship and hopefully being drafted into the MLS at the end of the process – with a degree to fall back on.”

Looking closer to home, Bruce desires even better facilities for the players and improved success in the domestic leagues. “For the men’s HPFL squad we aim to gain promotion to the Wessex League and aim for the Men’s BUCS Wednesdays first team to be competing in the BUCS Premier League. We are also extremely keen to improve our current facilities. Ideally, we would like to ascertain the ground requirements to gain promotion to the Wessex League. To do so, we need to find funding for small stands, floodlights, hard standing and a pitch barrier. This is something we are looking into as part of our 4 year development plan until 2015. ”

written by Will Lyon

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