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Ocean City FC players, coaches work with Italian giants Inter Milan in Philadelphia

During their U.S. tour, Inter stopped in Philly for a training camp

Due to the relationship that has been developed over the years between Inter Club Fachetti and Ocean City FC, the Nor’easters were invited to take part in Inter Milan’s week-long training camp at the Novacare Center in Philadelphia.

Ocean City FC head coach and general manager Neil Holloway shakes hands with the new Inter Milan manager Rafa Benitez.
It was soccer madness this summer in the United States with not only the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but several high-profile preseason exhibition matches that were played from coast to coast. Teams like Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan all came to the U.S. to prepare for the upcoming 2010/11 club season in their respective countries.

Ocean City FC was able to be involved with one of those mega-clubs, as they continue to develop a relationship with Italian giant Inter Milan. The defending European and Italian champions came to the U.S. for three full exhibition games in Los Angeles, Dallas and Baltimore and some smaller training matches against other clubs.

The first game on the trip was against Manchester City of the English Premier League at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. In preparation for that match, the club, led by new manager Rafa Benitez, traveled to Philadelphia for a training camp. The camp was organized by Inter Club Fachetti, a New Jersey-based supporters club that acted as a liaison for the team.

Due to the relationship that has been developed over the years between Inter Club Fachetti and Ocean City FC, the Nor’easters were invited to take part in the week-long training camp at the Novacare Center. It’s a natural relationship between Fachetti club president and Ocean City FC president John Granese, a lifelong Inter Milan fan, who was in Madrid this past spring to watch his favorite club win the UEFA Champions League title.

This relationship kicked off back in 2008 when Inter Club Fachetti coordinated an exhibition match in New Jersey between Inter’s Under-17 team and Ocean City’s Under-17s. The match finished in a 1-1 draw.

Ocean City FC director of PDL operations, Stephen Thurlby poses for a photo with Inter Milan and Brazilian National Team star Maicon.
The coaching staff for Ocean City FC assisted the Inter Milan coaches during morning and evening training sessions as they with the team’s camp. It involved a variety of tasks ranging from helping to organize the drills and sprints to just helping out wherever needed.

The sessions were relatively brief, with a 90 minute practice in the morning and another 90 minutes in the evening. There was very little specific fitness training, as almost everything was done with the ball.

One of the highlights of the week was allowing the ocean City coaches a chance to rub elbows and learn from Inter’s world class coaching staff, led by Benitez. The club’s latest manager has an impressive resume that includes winning a UEFA Cup and two La Liga titles with Spanish giants Valencia and winning the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool of the English Premier League.

“Throughout the week we managed to talk to new Inter Milan boss Rafa Benitez and some of the other coaches regarding our coaching and playing backgrounds,” said Ocean City FC head coach Neil Holloway. “The fitness coach explained some of the practices he was doing and what he was expecting from the world class athletes under his direction.”

“It was a fantastic opportunity to assist the best coaches in the world and have some personal one-on-one experiences with some of my playing heroes,” said PDL team captain John Fletcher.

Ocean City FC goalkeeper Tunde Ogunbiyi with Cameroon National Team legend Samuel Eto’o (left) and Nigerian National Team star Victor Obinna.
“It was a great experience having the opportunity to watch and observe the current European Champions in practice,” said Super Y-League coach Dan Ash. “It was also good to take away some new ideas that we can all use when we coach our own players.”

Super Y-League coach Scott Powell had a unique experience and will definitely take away some special memories.

“I will never forget the day Samuel Eto’o scored a penalty kick against me and also when Rafa Benitez asked me for a photo,” said Powell.

Some of the Nor’easters PDL players got an opportunity to be involved as well. Midfielder Giancarlo Granese assisted with some practices and got a chance to interact with world class players. Tunde Ogunbiyi was not only given a chance to meet the Inter Milan goalkeepers, led by Julio Cesar, the number one keeper for the Brazilian national team, but he was given a one-on-one training session with the team’s goalkeeper coach, Xavi Valero.

“All of the Inter coaching staff and players were very friendly and were happy to accommodate us and share their insight with us,” said Holloway. “It was a coach’s dream to be able to observe and learn from the best in the business first-hand.”

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