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Learning to Train – U12 Grassroots Development Program Overview

This stage is in line with the Learning to Train stage of LTPD. It is our goal that once the players enter this stage they are fully equipped with a passion and love of the game as well as fundamental techniques required to introduce principles of play.

At U11-U12, FCD will operate with a complete 4-corner holistic approach which focuses on technical/tactical, physical, mental and social/emotional areas of player development. Physical literacy is always a component of a session.  This holistic approach is critical for complete player development and preparing players for our playing philosophy and game model. Our curriculum and focus can be found in the U11-U12 Overview and Curriculum. Emphasizing wins and losses at this stage is discouraged. Often the result of the game can come at the expense of learning.

There is no maximum number of players permitted in the program and the program is completely open, following the open roster principle (based on the number of players that attend fall open sessions the program may be limited to 1 team).  On game day the maximum roster of each team is 16.  Players will participate in a series of festivals with other Ontario Academies which follow the LTPD principles. Evaluation of these players will be continuous with 2 written player evaluations per year.  Age group will operate under a 44-week calendar, with a 3:1 training to game ratio and a 1:16 coach to player ratio.   FCD uses the Player Development Model for sessions regardless of the number of players in the program.  Training sessions are 60-75 minutes in length with the players having a 13 minute arrival activity.


Playing Format 9v9 (w/GK)
Game Day Rosters Max 16
Open Rosters Yes
Substitutions Unlimited (any stoppage)
Game Duration 2 x 35 min
Team Travel Time OASL
Match Official Referee
Throw-ins Pass in/Dribble in
Retreat Line Yes - 1/3 Way
Offsides Yes
Ball Size 4
Field width/length 42-55m/60-75m
Goal Size (no larger) 6x18
Max competition days per season 20
Number of competition days per week 1
Playing time per player per game Fair time in all positions
Playing time per player per festival Max 80 min
Minimum/Maximum rest between games 30 min/120 min
Memorable Events 4 (2 Ontario/2 US+Canada)
League Structure 8 Festivals of 2-3 games
League OASL
Other Competition Friendlies and Festivals
Indoor League Yes
Training to Game Ratio Indoor 2:1/Outdoor 3:1
Coach to Player Ratio 1:16
Training Duration 75 minutes
Training - Arrival Activity 13 minutes
Player Development Model Yes
Indoor Season Length 20 weeks
Indoor Season Nov-Mar - 2 sessions per week
Outdoor Season Length 20 weeks
Outdoor Season Apr-Sept - 3 sessions per week
Physical literacy Component of each session
Trial Approach Open to all (Based on # of players)
Player evaluations 2 per year
Lead Coach qualifications C + L2T + MED + RIS + MHW + GL
Assistant Coach qualifications L2T + MED + RIS + GL
Coach evaluations 1 self, 1 verbal, 2 written

Coaching Methodology

  • Small sided games – let the game be the teacher.
  • Player Centred – allow the players to make decisions.
  • Use key factors to teach the players.
  • Demonstrate what you would like the players to do.
  • Keep information positive, brief and concise.
  • Create a positive learning environment.
  • Set appropriate challenges.
  • Sessions should have a theme.
  • Use a variety of interventions e.g. Q&A, Guided Discovery, Command.
  • Consider a young player’s self esteem. 
  • Avoid lines, lectures and laps.

Player Development Model


Technical Tactical Physical Social/Emotional Psychological/Mental
Dribbling Possession Agility Listening Motivation
Shooting Transition Balance Cooperation Self Confidence
Running with the ball Combination Play Coordination Communication Competitiveness
Ball mastery Playing out of the back Speed Sharing Commitment
Passing Pressing Basic Motor Skills Decision-making Self Control
Receiving Compactness Perception Respect/Discipline Determination
Fakes, fients and turns Switching play Awareness Fair play/Honesty Concentration
1v1 Attacking Attacking principles Acceleration Problem solving
Shielding the ball Reaction Empathy
Crossing Stamina Patience
Finishing Strength
1v1 Defending

Recent FC Durham Academy 2009B News

Dior Wilson signs with University of West Alabama

By Rich Hirst 03/01/2021, 1:00pm EST

MARCH 1, 2021


Congratulations to FC Durham Academy (FCD) Goalkeeper Dior Wilson on signing with University of West Alabama (UWA)!

Dior is joining the highly competitive UWA Tigers Program that is always in the running Gulf South Conference Championship.

Rich Hirst our Girl's High-Performance Manager says "She has been with FCD for 7 season and will be graduating from our program having made an impact on many of our members and staff. Dior is another one of those players that I have been honoured to coach for a long time period.  Her game presence, game command and penalty area ownership is at an extremely high level which is almost impossible to find in a goalkeeper at this transitioning point. Quiet off the field and THE commander on the field. Combining this with her intense competitive mentality, bravery and reaction Dior will be stepping in as a Freshman and challenging for a starting position at UWA. The statement we use to describe an elite work rate in training is - "punching a clock". Dior exudes this statement!  I am thankful to also get to know Dior as a person over this time period. Well rounded, devoted, and sincere are a few words I would use to describe her."

We look forward to following this next step of her journey and all her future successes.

Sierra O'Grady signs with University of West Alabama

By Rich Hirst 02/27/2021, 3:00pm EST

FEBRUARY 27, 2021


Congratulations to FC Durham Academy (FCD) 2021 Graduate Sierra "OG" O'Grady on signing with University of West Alabama (UWA)!

Sierra is joining 2 former FCD Graduates in the highly competitive UWA Tigers Program that is always in the running Gulf South Conference Championship.

Rich Hirst our Girl's High-Performance Manager says "We are elated for OG to be signing with UWA and taking this next step in life. When she graduates from FCD this August, it will mark 7 years at FCD. It was a delight to personally work with her for 6 of those 7 years. She has been a big part of our FCD family and will always be. A driven student and person with a very bright future ahead of her on and off the field.  OG has elite level awareness, perception, vision, playmaking and technical abilities, that along with her relentless mentality/passion will make her a great addition to the central midfield at UWA.  After spending so much time with her and watching her grow as a person, I have learned so much more about her. She is dedicated, focused, caring and generates high standards for herself. Traits that will help in university soccer, her career and in life."

We look forward to following this next step of her journey and all her future successes.

Charlotte Currer signs with Saint Mary's University

By Rich Hirst 02/23/2021, 1:30pm EST

FEBRUARY 23, 2021


Congratulations to FC Durham Academy (FCD) 2021 Graduate Charlotte Currer on signing with Saint Mary's University (SMU)!

SMU is located in Nova Scotia and competes in the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) of U Sports.

Rich Hirst our Girl's High Performance Manager says "We are very excited for Charlotte as she has been at FCD since U12 and feel this is an excellent fit for her from an academic and athletics aspect. She has a high level game understanding, excellent vision and is extremely sharp technically. Not many players in her age group this good with their head! These attributes and skills, along with her work ethic, will help Charlotte take this next step to university soccer at SMU. I personally was fortunate enough to coach her for 6 of these years, which gave me the opportunity to also watch her grow as a person."

We look forward to following her success at SMU both on and off the field.

Congrats to Charlotte!