Former professional footballer, Guadeloupe Stéphane Auvray gave an interview to Karaïbes Sports during which he looked back on his career and his memories in the Gwada Boys. The retired soccer player took the opportunity to tell us about his soccer academy, European Soccer Institute, he created in 2013 in the United States.

His Bio

Stéphane Auvray was born in Guadeloupe and grew up in Saint-Martin. He spent 7 years in Caen, playing soccer from U13 until playing for the pro group. He then spent a few years in CFA and National, then L2 in Vannes for 5 years, before going to Nîmes. He then joined MLS in Kansas City and New York, finishing up his career in Asia. He married a Trinidadian with whom he has 2 children.

His Successes

He has been a CFA Champion and National Champion. He also represented Guadeloupe during the 3 Gold Cups, including 2 as captain during which Guadeloupe reached the semifinal in 2007 and the quarter-finals in 2009. He also played the League Cup final in 2009.

His Best Memory

According to him, "The 2007 Gold Cup. An extraordinary group, an extraordinary adventure, with the whole community of the people behind us! There are also many great memories of my friend who left us, Ludo Quistin."

His Life after the Gwada Boys

Smiling, Stéphane tells us: "After playing with Thierry and Rafa Marquez in New York, I rediscovered football as one has never learned it. I fell in love with this Spanish football/Argentinian soccer, collective, technical, intelligent portion of the game, not relying on solely athletic qualities of a player, but knowing how to use them wisely."

"I then founded my academy (European Soccer Institute) in 2013 with the aim of training future pro players. The specificity of my academy is that we train the players in relation to their qualities in order to make the most of it. Each player has its specificities and we see that as an advantage. I'm not trying to get the players in a mold before the adult age."

Today, Stéphane cumulates 2 functions: Director of the ESI Academy, and coach of the senior team of St. Martin.

Establishment of the Academy in the United States

Stéphane chose to implant his academy on American soil mainly for family reasons: "my family had stayed there
when I played in Asia. The school system is very good, and the quality of life in Kansas City is ideal for raising children."

The American mentality has also been a major reason: "Americans have the mentality of work. It's easy to work with young Americans aiming to reach the highest level because the majority of them are aware of the work to be done to obtain a result. Because of their environment, there is naturally a positive dynamic that allows us to always try to do better."

And to add, he said: "Thank God, the difficulties were not too many."

First of all, in the USA it only takes 5 minutes to create this type of soccer entity, then a little patience to find the right place to move to an indoor football field. Subsequently, he was also able to get a small piece of land outside for a field. The most difficult for him was especially to explain to parents that the aim of the academy was not to win matches but to train players capable of playing at a high level.

"I've had the chance to have families who, having understood my way of working, were rewarded afterward. I am often told that my best players are recognizable by their technical mastery and their game intelligence."

Every year Stéphane relocates to the Pole Espoir Academy in Guadeloupe. Stéphane considers it important from a point of view:

  • Cultural: "This allows my young players and young Guadeloupeans to exchange and discover a different culture and language. It's very important for open-mindedness."
  • Sports: "This allows my young players to confront players in the process of integrating French training centers, and for some, future pros. There are specific demands from the FFF (French football Federation) in a structure like the Pole Espoir, and it's interesting for my young people to have to adapt and not to stay in their comfort zone. There is also a greater intensity in Guadeloupe, forcing my players to play faster and to be stronger in challenges. "

Regarding the organization of this event, the academy and the parents take care of everything. "We are 100% independent. This is a cost when you add the trip, accommodation, and transportation on-site, but in the end it is worth it. The players come back to the USA with sports and human achievements too."

Moved, he adds "I take this opportunity to thank the staff of Pole Espoir to receive us every year." He admitted to us that he had tried to bring young Guadeloupean players from the CSM and Evofoot to the United States, "but unfortunately the clubs did not have the necessary budget. It will eventually get there," he concludes.

Private Football Academies in France and the United States

According to Stéphane, the concept is underdeveloped because it is not in French culture. Americans see the concept as an investment in the future of their children. They pay by estimating that they will get more in a specialized structure, composed of highly qualified coaches. The level of expertise is very high, players with high potential will progress quickly and well. The years of football school and pre-training are essential in the training of the player. If the work is not done correctly, it is more complicated for the player afterward who will fall behind on the technical and motor skills levels. Regarding the good level of play, Stéphane thinks that "the two main factors are the quality of the fields and the fact of giving priority to the content and not the score in youth teams."

Will There Soon be a Satellite European Soccer Institute in Guadeloupe?

"It's been two years now that I have been working on this," he answers. "I presented a complete overview to some people with whom I was put in contact in Guadeloupe, but no return. On the other hand, on the side of Saint-Martin, the football authorities were very reactive, and we are actively working on the implementation of the project. Anyway, my dad always told me 'if you want to do something, do it and do not expect anything from anyone!'

He concludes the interview by saying: "This project is important to me and with the help of God I hope to set up these academies in Saint-Martin and Guadeloupe because I see all the usefulness."