When coaching young athletes, it is imperative to instill skills and habits that will set them up for success both on and off the field as they mature. The Minnesota United Development Academy’s efforts in that regard are evident in a player like U13 midfielder Ian Shaul, who is not only blossoming into a standout player, but is also gleaning leadership skills that he can apply anywhere.
MNUFC U13 Development Academy Head Coach Andy Seidel described Shaul as a field general with the calming presence of first team midfielder Ibson and the passing ability of midfielder Rasmus Schuller. Shaul’s ability to read, influence and dictate the game is well beyond his 12 years. He simplifies the game and helps the Loons keep good shape and the ball, which opens up other players to create.
“The way Ian thinks is special for a kid his age,” Seidel said. “The way he is able to process information, how calm he is with the ball and his ability to see the field and move is something not a lot of kids his age have.
“I think the guys see that he is a calming presence and aspire to be like him.”
Shaul is a player that his teammates look up to because of the example he sets on the field and in training, but he has not traditionally been a vocal presence and Seidel wants him to take that next step in his development. He is encouraging the North Saint Paul native to find his voice and become a leader that elevates those around him not only during the run of play, but also day-to-day.
“We have been trying to get him to lead the group not only with what he does on the field, because that is what he always does,” Seidel said,” but also with his voice and trying to bring others with him and make people around him better.”
It is a challenge that Shaul has embraced wholeheartedly.
“I like being the head and the motivation for the guys,” he said.
In just his first year in the Development Academy, Shaul has already shown the ability to raise others’ game and he credits his experience with MNUFC for giving him the means to do so. Shaul said it is a dream come true to pull on the Minnesota Black and Blue each week and believes there is nowhere else in the metro area young players can get an experience like the one the Loons offer.
“It is the only thing I ever really wanted as a kid,” Shaul said. “It is a professional environment. (At my old club) we did not have as many trainings and it was not as professional and everything here is basically a first team for kids.”