Annie Kingman, a member of our 94G team, wrote to us some years ago about her progress and development as a player at PSV Union, and her passion for soccer. Annie’s story was so impressive that it was selected to be posted on the NorCal Premier League blog "The Far Post Report" as well. It is an inspirational account of how a young player took her love for the sport, along with teaching and a good learning environment, and infused her own hard work and a lot of dedication, to rise through the ranks and become one of the most promising young talents in US youth soccer today.
(Note: Since this article was written, Annie has gone on to become one of the premier players not only in Northern California but in the entire United States. In February 2012, she was invited to the US U15 Girls National Team training camp with 21 other players from around the country. Morevoer, Annie was recently selected to play for 20 x NCAA Champions North Carolina Women's Soccer in 2014 with head coach Anson Dorrance. Annie now has 4,600+ juggles we hasten to add!)
Here is a story about a player who loves soccer; and who is using that love to bring her “skills and game” to new levels of excellence. It is not statistically possible that all young players can become National ranked players, but almost all young players who love soccer can – over time – become excellent players and benefit physically and socially from their involvement with such a challenging and demanding sport.
Here is the Annie Kingman story in her own words. Please send us other stories about young players who love our wonderful sport! Thank you Annie for bringing such a great attitude to our wonderful sport - and thank you for sharing your experiences!
From PSV Union DOC Gary Ireland:
Annie Kingman has been selected as the top female soccer player for players born 1995 & 1996 in the NorCal Premier Player Development Program (PDP) during Fall of 2009. From there she was recommended to the Western Regional US Club Camp id2 Program in Texas this past November where she was also identified as being the top player in her age group.
Two years ago Annie came to PSV Union as an ambitious but not remarkable player from the obscurity of a Class 3 team environment. One year ago you wouldn't have recognized the player you see today. In fact the selectors missed her at one State Tryout. We knew that over time she would improve because we were with her almost every day over the past 2 years and could see her hunger and desire to improve. Each day she seemed to return to the field an improved player. Her success story is not one of natural talent, or physical prowess but one of passion, dedication and love of the game. She simply loves to play and loves to learn! Here is Annie's story.
Director of Coaching
PSV Union FC
"THE ANNIE KINGMAN STORY"
My name is Annie Kingman. I play for PSV Union FC. My main coaches are Carine and Gary Ireland. I am also coached by other coaches in the club: Simon Ireland, Victor Ireland, Christopher Sullivan, Justin Brock and Aman Kebreab.
I am 13 years old, and born in 1996. Currently, I play a year ‘up’ on a 1994 age team. Sometimes I guest-play up on the 1993 age team, as I play with and against them regularly in training. I also play with and against the older and younger boys’ teams often.
There isn’t a day that passes where I am not playing. Right now I practice six days a week with my team, which includes small group training and specialized technical training, and whatever time I have left I am playing on my own. At practice, I work on a wide variety on things. My coaches have introduced me to countless skills: ways to strike a ball, juggling, passing techniques, ways to play, controlling a ball, crossing, finishing etc. When we don’t have enough time at practice to spend on a certain skill, I continue working on it at home on my patio, in my backyard, or at my school. I get to practice by being driven by my mom to the train station, taking the train, and from there I take my skateboard to the field.
Our club has many differentiating qualities. One is the way we play. We play a passing game, but we also encourage each other to go one on one and take players on. Many of the teams we play against kick the ball way down field and have their track stars run on to it. We like to build up and combine to get forward.
Another quality that makes us different is that we play up and down in age groups and with other genders. This makes you adjust the way you play. We play with and against the older, younger, and boys teams. This also helps me because the boys tend to be faster and more physical. I’ve played with the 1996, 1993, and 1994 teams, and I play regularly against the 1994 boys, occasionally the 1996 boys, and I’ve helped coach and played with the UFA kids ages 6-9. This is also helpful, because when you teach them, you learn things to improve in your own game. We train all on the same field which creates a family environment where you could pick out a player any age across the field and know their name, have coached them, played with them, or played against them.
We also play everyday with our coaches. They are all amazing players themselves and have endless skill and knowledge for the game. When we play with them, we learn to position ourselves to get the ball and to combine with them. When we play against them, we learn to defend them properly, or the consequence would be losing. My coaches offer me so many challenges every day. They give me new skills to work on, juggling tricks, and so much more.
Finally, our club is different because we don’t focus on tournaments. Many teams go to tournaments to be recognized, improve their “rankings”, or as some teams believe, to get better. My opinion is that tournaments don’t help you improve. How I improve is by staying after practice for an hour to shoot, play, or cross and finish with my coaches. Not by playing three to five games in one weekend. This can be too much stress on the body, while you could play one training game and learn so much more.
In my club juggling is a necessary skill to have. It can improve your touch, balance, and your strike of a ball. Usually, a practice will include juggling at some point. I was 10 years old when I got 1,000 juggles. My current juggling record is 3,075, and achieved this number at age 13. I continue to work on freestyle juggling with certain restrictions as well as tricks. The reason I don’t go after higher numbers like 5,000 or more is because once you get over 1,000 or 2,000 it makes more sense to try and improve areas in which you aren’t as good. Soccer tennis also helps juggling, as juggling improves your ability to play soccer tennis. Soccer tennis is one of my favorite things. We usually play it when it is raining and we are on the courts. I like playing on the tennis courts because the ball moves faster and it challenges your first touch.
I am inspired by a number of people. A few players I like are Fernando Torres, Zidane, Messi, Glen Johnson, Pirlo, and Robinho. My favorite player is Steven Gerrard. His passing is amazing. The way he executes a perfect pass makes me want to go and do the same. His team, Liverpool, is also my favorite because of the way they play. They have so much heart and can pull off things thought impossible. Other people who inspire me are my coaches. I love watching them play, and their skill is endless and its makes me want to do what they do.
This summer I was fortunate enough to take part in a trip to England with the club. Here we got to play several games against local teams and against each other in the public parks. We stretched every morning on the courts and worked on foot skills. We also played multiple small-sided games. The trip even included some professional games which were absolutely amazing. It was so cool to see the teams I watch on T.V., including Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Manchester United, Arsenal, Paris St. Germain and Glasgow Rangers. When I saw Gerrard at Anfield I could hardly breathe. I was absolutely stunned. We learned about the history of the game and the teams we hear about everyday. We saw just about everything there was to see including stadiums, guest speakers, Liverpool training academy, and all the sights in England. This trip was the best experience I’ve ever had.
Another great experience I have had was meeting Marta in Los Angeles on my birthday. This was made possible by my coach, Carine. It was really cool to be on the field with her, and it made me want to be playing too.
My coaches recommended me to the PDP id2 program. I played a weekend in Santa Rosa, and I was recommended from there to go to Texas. I had a ton of fun at both of these events. I learned a lot and got the chance to play with many different kinds of players. I started to improve my ability to work with different kinds of players and incorporate them into my own game. I was not recommended to the program through a tournament. I was recommended through practice and some games.
My family is also very soccer oriented. My dad played with a half academic, half soccer scholarship at Bucknell University, as well as in a semi pro league. He continues to play to this day, and he was the one who got me playing soccer at age 3. My 11 year old sister, Georgia, also plays. Every weekend w e find a time to go down to my school to play, cross and finish, shoot, juggle, and pass. My grade point average is a 4.0.
Since I was little, I had dreams of playing professionally and for the US National Team. These goals haven’t altered and I still have the highest ambitions to be the best player I can be.
PSV Union FC
December 7, 2009
Annie and PSV Union 94G with Liverpool FC Ladies U14 Academy Team during PSV Union's UK Tour in Summer 2009
Annie Kingman in action, November 2011
Q: How has PSV Union contributed to your development?
“Without PSV Union, I would never have improved as I have. The coaches at our club are all high-level players themselves, and they have inspired me to be the best that I can be. The coaches inspire me to always put 110% into every training and game. The club presents new ideas and I learn about the game every day. PSV's philosophy fosters player development like no other club.” Annie Kingman
Q: Is PSV Union different from other clubs? If so, how?
“PSV Union is very different than other clubs. First, we don’t focus on tournaments or games. At PSV, there is an emphasis on training and not on games. When we go to a tournament or game, we focus on playing attractive soccer and learning the game. While it is nice to win, we are not concerned with the score. Second, we are encouraged to play both 'up' on older teams and along with younger players in their games. Furthermore, we play with and against our boy's team on a regular basis. The older girls and boy’s competition helps us improve our speed of play and makes us elevate our technical skill. Playing with the younger team does the same for them while improving our own confidence and building team spirit. PSV is more united than any other club I have heard of. We all play at the same field, and know almost everyone on every team. It truly feels like PSV is one big family.”Annie Kingman
Q: How would you describe your clubs philosophy on player development.
“Our club's philosophy is centered around training and touching the ball. Our coaches encourage us to touch the ball every day. In any given game, we are limited in the number of touches. This is why we focus on practice rather than games or tournament play. In addition, we are given 'soccer homework'. Our coaches provide us with learning material such as YouTube videos and articles. We are encouraged to watch professional games and to learn how the game is played at the higher levels.” Annie Kingman
Q: How did you improve? What is the reason for your success?
“I improved by touching the ball everyday. The coaches at PSV are excellent teachers, but they can only help us so much in a practice session. I take what I learn at training and I practice it on my own. Also, my coaches taught me how to always put my best effort into everything. Opportunity to improve is everywhere, and I improved by trying my best everyday.” Annie Kingman
Q:How often and What do You Practice?
“I practice 5 days a week with my team, and usually have one game on the weekend. I practice on my own on the days I don’t have regular club training. During the summer, we often have double-day training. At practice we usually start with skill training and juggling. Afterwards, we will play small-sided games or inter-club games.” Annie Kingman
Q: What are your favorite things abou tthe club?
“I have many favorite things about the club. Some of my favorite parts of PSV are the family feeling between all the players and teams, the trainings, the coaches, and my teammates. The club inspires me to be my best every day.” Annie Kingman
Q. What kind of Player do you Need to be to Join Union. What attributed would you need to possess to be a player PSV Union coaches would be interested in coaching?
“To be a part of PSV Union, you have to be a certain kind of player. You have to always be hungry to learn. Attitude is a HUGE part of being a soccer player, and without a good attitude it is very hard to improve. You have to have respect for your coaches, your teammates and yourself. Finally, you have to have the drive to be your best. Focus, determination, and dedication are three qualities a player must have to be successful at PSV Union.” Annie Kingman
Annie and 5-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA after a WPS game for LA Sol, April 2009