Happy New Year Everyone!
For the first edition of the Soccer Fitness Gols Blog in 2016, I have taken a look at the Canadian Academy of Futbol (CAF), a unique player development program with a very unique model for developing and maximizing the potential of aspiring young soccer players in Canada. I hope you enjoy reading and as always, I welcome your comments and feedback!
Participating in youth soccer used to be really simple. When I was a kid in the 1980’s, playing “rep” or competitive soccer involved 1-2 practices and 1 game per week, all of which took place a short distance – sometimes even a short walk – from my house. There were little to no other “options” as a rep player, other than perhaps switching to another club that also trained and competed close by.
Today, in contrast, parents of aspiring young soccer players have so many different options and choices available, making the right choice can seem like a very daunting task. Parents and players are free to choose from among hundreds of amateur non-profit clubs, private academies, independent soccer clubs and leagues, private and public school teams, and all sorts of supplemental training programs. Added to this list of options for Canadian soccer players in recent years has been the Canadian Academy of Futbol (CAF for short). Created in 2012, CAF has quickly grown to become one of the largest soccer development programs in North America. This article will provide some information and clarity about CAF, including feedback from Phil Ionadi, former professional soccer player and current President of the company.
The Canadian Academy of Futbol is not a soccer club, soccer academy, or soccer league. It is a soccer development program, which comprises several different soccer clubs and academies (as of today, over 35 different organizations), and runs soccer competitions, including regular seasons, tournaments, camps, and showcases. CAF has grown in membership every year since its inception, and this growth has provided a platform for changes and additions to the programming and services it provides to its members. Among the most notable of these recent additions and changes are:
- Working in accordance with the OSA Matrix and LTPD guidelines for all age categories
- The creation of the CAF Super Group, which comprises a free competition program for elite level players. This was launched in 2015 with the U14 Boy’s division, including the 2015 U14 Boys Ontario Cup and Canadian National Champions, Epic FC.
- Forming a partnership with Dragon Force Toronto, an international soccer school project created by FC Porto of the Portuguese Primera Liga, and run out of Bradford, Ontario, in the spring of 2015
- Working relationship with the North American International Cup (NAIC) and the Lika 3v3 Cup in partnership with Coervers and Disney.
- Working relationship and partnership with Toronto FC that saw over 2000 CAF members in attendance at CAF Day.
- Announcement of new CAF member Winstars Academy and the upcoming Showcases for 2016.
What is truly unique about CAF and what they have achieved in such a short period of time is the fact that they have created a development program that has been able to attract so many talented players, teams, and coaches. I have had the opportunity to work with several of the different member academies of CAF, as well as having worked personally with a number of their Technical Directors and coaches. Many of the members have very well-educated, professional, experienced and enthusiastic coaches, and CAF has provided these people with a fantastic platform to help nurture and develop their talented players.
Phil Ionadi, former professional player with the Montreal Impact and current President of CAF, had this to say to soccer players and parents who may be interested in learning more about CAF:
“The vision for the CAF development program was to provide quality training for all players as well as a pathway for our elite players who are striving to play professionally or obtain a soccer scholarship. The CAF program brings together great coaches who are former International and Canadian players that are mentors and heroes for these athletes.”
“I have been very fortunate to come through the Canadian system and obtain a soccer scholarship and play with some top class players throughout my career. The support of my coaches who became my mentors, made a difference in moulding me into the player and person I am today, and this is the same vision I have for CAF.”
“Having CAF players being coached by former professional players such as Shawn Faria, Ruben Flores, Danny Amaral, Kevin De Serpa, Josh Bill, Rick Titus and many others, will only help the development of our future stars in the game and in life.”
“The success story for CAF in 2015 was the launch of the CAF Super Group. This was intended to provide elite players a true professional environment where they play in a stadium, with their own team change rooms, walking out of the tunnel to the field, hearing the Canadian National Anthem before kick-off, having their name called by the announcer, and have their games televised. CAF has built this environment in 2015 and look forward to expanding and growth for the 2016 season.”
The 4 Pillars that unite CAF are: “Respect, Passion, Commitment, & Discipline.” These pillars have been a constant throughout the growth of CAF, including adding members, forming partnerships, helping players attain athletic scholarships and professional trials, and seeing its members winning local as well as international leagues and tournaments. In just a few short years, CAF has come a long way towards creating a successful player development program, which is an excellent option for young aspiring soccer players in this country.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.
For more information about CAF, visit: