Home Global Game Asia Toronto teen Oliver Spring set for third stint with Feyenoord academy

Toronto teen Oliver Spring set for third stint with Feyenoord academy


Oliver Spring is a name that Canadian soccer fans need to have on their radars.

The 15-year-old Toronto native has been invited back to the Netherlands for a third spell with Feyenoord’s academy. The defender will be going back to the Netherlands in May to work with a coaching staff that includes Roy Makaay, who was an absolute goal-scoring machine for both Deportivo La Coruna and Bayern Munich before finishing his pro career with Feyenoord.

Over the weekend, Spring was named the CSL Reserve Division’s defender of the year for his work in the SC Toronto program under coach Carmine Isacco.

“I didn’t see it coming,” said Spring, who is currently a shade under six feet tall. “It was a surprise, it came out of nowhere. But it has given me confidence. A lot of the players in the Reserve Division are much older than me, so it was good to be recognized.”

But, as nice as it was to be recognized by the CSL, Spring’s career was turned when he caught the eyes of Leonardo Mouwen, a skills coach and recruiter who works with Manchester City, and Feyenoord youth coach Jan Goosgens. Through those Dutch connections, he earned his shot with one of the big three of Dutch soccer.

Spring first went over to the Netherlands in May of 2011, then returned in October. He also spent part of 2010 training in Israel with Hapoel Haifa’s academy.

When he first got to Feyenoord, Spring had to make some major adjustments.

Oliver Spring, left, at Feyenoord’s academy in October.

“It was an entirely different level than the teams I had played with before; the competition level was very high and I really had to adapt fast. There was a big adjustment in playing the European style; it was a lot different than playing in Canada. You have to play the ball a lot faster, and on the ground. You are not putting the ball into the air at all.”

“There is just so much discipline, there,” said Oliver’s father, Shane. “There is no kicking the ball around when they get on the pitch. The boys understand what a privilege it is to be there.”

The Dutch don’t spend time on developing skills in mid- to late-teens. It’s accepted that they should already come into camp with a skill set and, through playing, will develop.

“The philosophy is to just play,” said Oliver, “whether it’s 6 v 6 or 9 v 9 or 11 v 11.”

It’s a far cry from the practice fields of the GTA, where a young Oliver Spring was mentored by another Toronto teen prospect who was three years his senior. Joseph Di Chiara spent a lot of time with Spring.

“He took Oliver under his wing,” said Shane.

Now, Di Chiara is playing in the Russian Premier League, and earned his first Canadian national-team call during the October World Cup qualifiers, even though he didn’t get a chance to see the field.

Now, Spring has a chance to emulate Di Chiara, to have the chance to be recognized in Canada – by playing in Europe. Will the third time be a charm for Spring? Will Feyenoord ask him to stay?

“If they do, it is an offer I will definitely consider,” he said. “It would be an opportunity that many kids in Canada would never get the chance to take.”

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One Comment

  1. Soccerpro

    November 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    The question is how do we get more kids in front of Leonardo Mouwen and Jan Goosgens…

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