Everton has welcomed a delegation of coaches from Columbus United, who have signed up to become valued, five-year members of the Everton International Academy Affiliate Programme (EIAAP).
Simon Davis, Columbus United's Executive Director and Director of Youth Soccer, is joined on a technical visit to Merseyside by club coaches Alex Bechtol, Brock Schnitzer and Ashraf Kittaneh, as the North American Club - one of the oldest and most successful soccer clubs in Ohio - reaffirm their commitment with an 18-month extension to the EIAAP programme they first joined back in 2020.
Columbus United, which was established in 1988 as a men’s amateur team and branched out to form youth teams for boys and girls in 2015, was the first international affiliate partner in the United States.
The club has amateur sides that continue to excel and close to 400 youngsters and 30 teams now being coached in their growing academy.
And Davis feels the latest visit to Merseyside can be a great benefit to helping Columbus continue to grow.
He said: “It’s great to be here and this visit, for us, is all about sharing ideas and leaning on our ‘big brother’ by gleaning new ideas for our coaches to take back.
“Seeing the Academy here at Finch Farm at first-hand will definitely help our coaches develop, especially Brock and Ashraf, who are on their first visit.
“The insight into how we can change our methods is invaluable and the hope is that we can then take best practices back and share that with our other coaches, to improve our players.”
Main picture: Everton International staff Paddy Byrne and Sean Robertson with, from second left to right, Columbus United's Simon Davis, Alex Bechtol, Brock Schnitzer, Ashraf Kittaneh.
The delegation, accompanied by Everton’s International Technical Manager, Paddy Byrne, arrived in the city on Wednesday and have since enjoyed a stadium tour at Goodison Park, watched Academy training sessions at Finch Farm and taken up an invite to watch Chesterfield’s first team train.
They will round off their technical visit by watching the Blues’ Premier League clash with Tottenham on Saturday.
Gustavo Spanholi, Senior Manager for Commercial Growth Projects at Everton, added “We are delighted to welcome Simon and the coaching staff from Columbus United.
"As one of our oldest affiliate partners, we have a healthy, long-standing relationship that we feel has helped Columbus grow their presence in Ohio.
"Thanks to this extended partnership, we look forward to working alongside Simon and his team to help grow the next generation of footballers in North America."
Everton’s International Academy Affiliate Club programme, which is available to grassroots teams, professional sides, youth academies, girls’ and women’s teams, as well as colleges and universities, was launched in 2020.
The programme currently has affiliates in the US, Canada, South America, Africa, Australia and Ireland.
For more information, please visit: https://www.evertonfc.com/international/international-academy/affiliate-programme