There's an Old Dutch saying that Bobby Smyrniotis often uses when describing his approach to first team football at Sigma FC.
"The youth teams may win, the first team must win," he says, describing a phrase that not only states the objective of the senior team of most professional football organizations, but also helps explain the overarching organizational structure of Sigma FC.
Each phase of training within the organization designed to prepare players technically, intellectually and emotionally for the demands and expectation of playing winning football. It's been considered one of the main shortfalls of the North American soccer development that winning gets placed ahead of development at a young age. And it has often been considered that academies – while good at teaching skills – fail to expose kids to enough competition.
Smyrniotis has heard those types of arguments, and his response is to point to his old, reliable phrase.
"With Sigma FC, we say this is the one team in the organization that we want to win," he says. "We always use that old Dutch saying that the youth teams may win, and the first team must win. That is what we are looking at. It is a competitive phase of training and development, so the most important thing is that we go out with the mentality of how we go out and get the three points.
"Now that said, we want to do it our way. We will not compromise the way we play football, we will not compromise our philosophical direction and how we do it."
To that end, Smyrniotis and his staff run an organized, and focused senior men's side with many players on the training field all fighting for spots on the game-day roster. This is an essential part of what Smyrniotis calls his "competitive phase of training."
Most of the 30 players in the Sigma FC player pool come from collegiate soccer environments and all have to fight for time on the field and compete in training for minutes.
Fostering that environment he says is crucial for players looking to take their game up to a new level.
Having a vibrant training environment for players aged 18-22 has meant that some new players have been drawn to Sigma FC. Newcomers this season include recent Simon Fraser University grad Josh Bennett, who recently was on trial with San Jose Earthquake of the MLS.
Sigma FC midfielder Manny Morgado says the training environment allows players such as himself to remain focused and sharp. A former NCAA student-athlete at Pittsburgh, Morgado is planning to go on trial in Portugal this summer and possibly head back to a new school in the fall.
Key to his plans is a good training and competitive environment.
"We have all the players from the Universities coming back, that gives us a lot of experience on the field with players playing at high levels, and now we have the younger players coming up," he said.
Sigma FC lost two players from last year's squad to the MLS in Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman, but according to Morgado, this opened the door for new players to take on bigger roles on the field.
"Kyle and Emery are great players obviously, moving on to Toronto FC. But as they move on that just opens up spaces for younger players, and this is going to keep happening with players moving to higher levels," said Morgado.
Sigma FC plays in the Premier Elite division of the Ontario Soccer League. With some changes within the Canadian Soccer League, many teams in the OSL attracted better players, making this league one of top senior men's amateur leagues in the country.
"It's a very good league, if we are looking back a few years, it was a 14-team league and maybe some competition was not at the level that we all wanted it to be," said Smyrniotis. "Last year, it went down to a 10-team league, I think that was perfect, from our aspect, and what we need for our college players. It gave the players between 12 – 18 games for their season based on their departure back to respective schools, and gave us what we needed – good competition for our guys and 4-5 matches at the tail end of the season for our up and coming U16 and U17 players."
For a complete schedule of matches go to www.ontariosl.com
Following is the Sigma FC 2013 roster:
|Greg Ranjitsingh||GK||Mercer University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Agim Sheriffi||GK||N/A||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Johnathan Grant||RB||Yavapai CC||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Nick Baisden||CD||Monroe CC||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Jordan Hibbert||CD||Adelphi University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Brandon Goode||CD||Quinnipiac University||Spartacus SC|
|Quinn Hasenbacher||CD||IUPU-FW||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Domenic Samuel||CD/M||Southern New Hampshire U||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Nolan Holdridge||LB/W||Cal State – Stanislaus||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Aaron Furtado||LB||York University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Manny Morgado||CM||University of Pittsburgh||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Kristian Lee-Him||CM||University Of Buffalo||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Nathanial Morris||CM||McMaster University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Manvir Brar||CM||Simon Fraser University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Shane Beharry||CM||Robert Morris University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Alex Halis||CM||Syracuse University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Juan Bernal||CM||Adrian College||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Mark Gonzalez||CM||University of Evansville||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Jarrett Hamilton||LW||Oral Roberts University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Lucas Guerriero||LW||Bryant University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Ryan Lynn||ST||University of Dayton||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Lucas Ferritto||ST||Simon Fraser University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Matt Guerriero||ST||Bryant University||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Jordan Stoddart||RW||Herkimer CC||SIGMA FC Academy|
|Josh Bennett||RW||Simon Fraser University||Hamilton|
|Michael Campea||RW||Queens University||SIGMA FC Academy|