Photo: Jordan Hamilton (L) and Jay Chapman are two Academy players heading to Orlando
TORONTO – Football doesn’t take holidays and neither did Toronto FC when Academy director Thomas Rongen and director of player development Paul Mariner, flanked by youth coaches and staff, met with over 130 families last Saturday through four sessions.
These were team meetings for the parents of youth players – ranging from U12 to U19 – held at BMO Field, providing them with the Academy plan for the 2012 season.
The highlight of the year will certainly be the opening of the new Academy and Training Facility at Downsview Park, still tentatively scheduled for ribbon cutting in June. This $20 million infrastructure investment will help set Toronto apart from any other team in North America when it comes to youth development.
RELATED: 2012 Season Seats on sale
Video: Toronto FC Academy team meetings.
Bricks and mortar aside, what will truly make Toronto the benchmark of player production is the overall effort put forth by Mariner, Rongen and those working to support their vision.
“You have to dream big, because eventually we want our (Academy) teams to play on that field for Toronto FC, for the first team,” Rongen said in his sessions with the BMO Field pitch to the left of his gathered audience.
The club promotes a realistic model, explicitly outlining that although not every player will be first team material, opportunities exist for elite footballers to continue pursuing the game at a collegiate level because education is a central theme of player development.
“We want to produce players that have good character both on and off the field, that are role models, that kids in your neighbourhood, your school want to be like,” Rongen explained.
The Academy director revealed to the parents that seven of the nine Academy players that were with the first team at the outset of training camp this year are headed to Orlando to continue preseason under the tutelage of head coach Aron Winter.
That sent a tidy message that young players who show total commitment to the club, making TFC proud on and off the pitch, will be rewarded handsomely.
Discuss this with Asif on Twitter