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Eagles learning to fly from across the pond
The Eagles’ head coach Bobby Davison is delighted with the upturn in results since his arrival and the way his American players have adapted to English conditions.
The Eccleshill boss is in full control of the first team at Plumpton Park but the vast majority of players are provided by the Richmond International Academic and Soccer Academy (RIASA), which is run by the Eagles’ director of football Mark Ellis and is where City striker Nahki Wells was unearthed from.
The bulk of the RIASA students are from the USA and have a background in college soccer which focuses on technique and skill.
The rough and tumble of English football can appear a harsh environment by contrast.
Davison said: “I only get to work with the boys on match days and one day during the week.
“The other training sessions are taken by other coaches and I don’t know what they are working on in those sessions.
“They work during the week on 3G and 4G playing surfaces as well, so when they come to our pitch, or most of the others in this league for that matter, it’s a different kettle of fish.
“In America they play a lot on artificial surfaces and that is what most of these boys have grown up with. The grass pitches, especially at this time of year, are very bobbly and it is hard for the players to adapt their game.
“To be fair to them they do it well and the results have been coming and I’m enjoying my time here. It is a challenge developing young players but it’s one I have always enjoyed.”
Anyone who has questioned the determination and spirit of the overseas players has not seen the Eagles play recently. Last Saturday they overcame Bradford rivals Albion Sports 1-0.
Davison added: “People might have thought that the boys were a bit lightweight or would not be able to cope with the physical side of the game over here. Just come and look at these lads play if you still think that.
“They have spirit and stomach for a fight against some very big and intimidating teams in this league.
“They might not get the protection from the officials that they get playing five-a-side in America but they don’t shirk from a challenge.”
Eccleshill’s impressive run of form, which has seen them climb away from the relegation zone, is proof of that.