Since 2017, The ECNL has hosted an annual ECNL Coaching Symposium, an educational event that features top coaching and leadership experts from around the world. Those in attendance receive a collaborative environment to share best practices, resources and tools to continue to innovate and push the game of soccer forward together.

Below is a list of past speakers that have graced the stage at the ECNL Coaching Symposium and have shared their expertise with soccer minds from around the country, along with testimonials from those who have attended the ECNL Coaching Symposium in years past.

Past Speakers

Ian Barker: Ian Barker is the Director of Coaching Education for United Soccer Coaches. Barker serves on the national instructional staff for United Soccer Coaches, U.S. Soccer and US Youth Soccer, with formal coaching qualifications from United Soccer Coaches, US Soccer, US Youth Soccer, the English FA and the German DFB. As a coach and coach educator, Barker has traveled extensively in Europe, south and central America, and Africa teaching courses for coaches of all levels.


Todd Beane: Todd Beane is the founder of TOVO Training and TOVO Academy Barcelona. He also worked with legendary coach Johan Cruyff to create the Cruyff Institute for Sport Studies. Beane has conducted coaching education and development workshops for some of the biggest clubs and organizations in the soccer world, including Barcelona, Ajax, the KNVB and more.



Ceri Bowley: Ceri Bowley is the Head of Coaching Support at City Football Group, which has an unrivaled global presence, with clubs and affiliated teams in Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Australia. Prior to his role at CFG, Ceri worked in academia as a Course Leader and Senior Lecturer of undergraduate and graduate soccer degrees, at the English FA as Coach Mentor and Educator, and a number of youth Academies in England and Wales as a coach, performance coach (psychology) and consultant. Ceri is a UEFA A Licensed Coach and a PhD in Coaching Science and Sport Psychology.


Becky Burleigh: Becky Burleigh is an accomplished soccer coach with more than 30 years of experience. Burleigh was at the helm of the University of Florida’s women’s soccer program for 26 years, coaching more than 600 games for the Gators. She led the team to an NCAA National Championship in 1998, two NCAA College Cup appearances, 14 SEC conference titles and 22 NCAA postseason berths. Burleigh also has coaching experience in the NWSL with the Orlando Pride and in the NAIA with Berry College, where she won two NAIA National Championships.


Tom Byer: Tom Byer is the Head Technical Advisor for the Chinese School Football Program Office and Official CSF Grassroots Ambassador.




Fergus Connolly: Fergus Connolly is one of the world’s leading experts in team sport and human performance who has worked in professional football, soccer, rugby and with special forces in multiple countries, and the author of the highly acclaimed books “Game Changer – The Art of Sport Science” and “59 Lessons – Working with the World’s Greatest Coaches, Athletes and Special Forces.



Dr. Cristina Fink: Dr. Cristina Fink is the ECNL Mental Performance Advisor, and a licensed Performance Psychologist who has worked with Olympic Medalists, World Champions, and various professional and national teams. As a former two-time Olympic High Jumper (Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992) who held the Mexican High Jump Record with a 6’4’’ jump that stood for 22 years, Fink brings her personal experience to her professional expertise when educating coaches on how to more impactfully work with athletes.


Gari Fullaondo: Gari Fullaondo is the former Director of Methodology at the storied Basque club Athletic Bilbao and now serves as a technical and methodological advisor for La Liga and serves on the Royal Spanish Football Federation’s Committee of Football Coaches.




Codey Gandy: Codey Gandy is a former U.S. Marine, and current leadership instructor, speaker, and strategic advisor for Echelon Front, the globally renowned leadership consultancy founded by retired U.S. Navy Seals Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, also co-authors of the #1 NY Times bestseller “Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs Lead and Win.” Codey spent over 5 years as a ground combat leader for various units in the Marine Corps. He brings unique experience in demonstrating leadership in dynamic environments, building winning teams, and developing relationships across all levels of an organization.


James Kerr: James Kerr is a bestselling writer, speaker and coach who helps leaders create high-performance cultures for elite teams and organizations. He is the author of the global best-seller “Legacy” which provides a unique insight into the most successful sporting team, the All Blacks, and has worked with some of the world’s most exceptional organizations- from Tier One Special Forces to Formula One teams, Premiership Football managers to Olympic athletes, and Google to Spotify to Boeing.


Brett Ledbetter: Brett Ledbetter is an accomplished author and expert on coaching, writing a catalog of books including What Drives Winning, What’s Really Important, What Drives Winning Teams, and What Drives Winning Environments. Ledbetter has also given TED Talks to share his expertise on coaching, winning and competing. He shares his knowledge with the top coaches, athletic directors and athletic programs around the country, making him one of the most sought-after consultants in the game.


Doug Lemov: Doug Lemov is the ECNL Coaching Methodology Advisor and impactful educator of teachers and coaches. He is the international best-selling author of the international best-seller Teach Like a Champion and of the highly acclaimed The Coach’s Guide to Teaching. Lemov has been an instructor with the US Soccer Federation in their Pro License and other courses, and has consulted with coaches and sporting organizations around the world, including in MLB, the NBA, MLS, and more.


Kris Van Der Haegen: Kris Van Der Haegen is the Director of Coach Education of the Royal Belgian Football Association, a member of the JIRA Panel advising UEFA and UEFA’s member associations on coaching education, and the assistant coach for the Belgian Women’s National Team.




Mark Williams: Mark Williams is a world-leading sports scientist with a focus on expertise and skill acquisition in sport and other professional domains. He is currently a Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Utah, having previously worked in the UK and Australia, and has published almost 500 articles in fields including sports science, psychology, neuroscience, medicine and education. His book ‘The Best: How Elite Athletes are Made’ was published in August 2020, and he has previously delivered courses or services for UEFA, IOC, FIFA, The FA, as well as a multitude of professional sports teams in the Premier League, Premiership Rugby, National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and several Olympic sports including GB Hockey and Sailing and the US Ski Team.



“I think the speakers’ outlook on bringing more education towards coaches and focusing more on the thinking part of the game rather than just X’s and O’s has been incredible. That’s a huge part for us. There are a lot of brilliant-minded soccer coaches here and a lot of being able to listen to how we can help develop a mindset of a player as a coach in that environment. Those topics are very important to our club for our future.” – Dan Naidu, Kansas City Scott Gallagher Director of Coaching

“One of the biggest things I took away from this is culture. It’s about culture versus environment, and how do you ultimately end up with the long game for that sustained culture? To me personally, that’s very important and that’s what I’m going to go back to my club with and really try to emphasize.” – Brent Leiba, Virginia Union FC Head Coach

“We’re always learning as coaches. So we always want to make sure that we push ourselves and study and just be curious about what’s going on out there in the fringes. The atmosphere is very vibrant. You get to see a lot of familiar faces, people that I’ve known from outside the clubs, so just getting a chance to meet them again, meet new faces and to be here in a great facility, it’s awesome.” – Pete Palomino, San Antonio City SC Regional League Director

“I knew the speakers the ECNL had lined up were going to be good, but I didn’t expect them to be that good. They blew me away. All of them have been fantastic presenters. I’m enjoying it. Getting together with your peers and sharing information is huge too because we’re all coaches and we’re trying to strive to be the best. The ECNL’s Coaching Symposium is a great platform for us coaches to continue education in a nice, relaxed way that really fosters learning.” – Lorne Donaldson, Real Colorado National Director of Coaching

“The speakers have been very good, keeping you involved, bouncing ideas off of each other. It’s fantastic that ECNL puts this on for the directors because the ideas shared here filter down and makes an impact in the game of soccer for youth as a whole.” – Joey Hoffman, Eagles SC ECNL Boys Director

“It was a fantastic weekend. World-class speakers and we just can’t stop talking about how much out-of-the-box thinking we’re able to do as a result of these new, innovative ideas that were presented. Now we need to apply them to our environment so we can continue growing and learning.” – Erin Sharpe, Pleasanton Rage Director of Coaching