Following a very successful introduction to the aspiring soccer youth of the Greater Toronto Area in 2005 and 2006, the world class coaches who make up the top youth academy in the world- AFC AJAX of Amsterdam will once again return this summer to share the renowned training philosophy and methods which best define the successful AFC AJAX model for youth development.
The two week identification camp (July 9-13 & July 23-27) will be lead by Patrick Ladru, Technical Director at the AJAX youth academy. He has over 16 years of experience at AJAX, having overseen the development of many of today's professional soccer stars who graduated from the AJAX academy. Another 5 academy coaches will be making the trip, some returning from the 2005 and 2006 camp while others make the trip for the first time, but all with vast experience as former top level international players and now as part of the youth development coaching staff. They include Wim Kwakman (U15), Simon Tahamata (Technical Trainer), Gerri Muhren (International Scout), Wilco van Buuren (U-12) and Renaldo Landberg (Coordination Trainer).
"This will be my third time visiting Canada for the annual summer camps and I am truly excited as ever" commented Mr. Ladru. "I have definitely learned much from my past experiences about the strengths and challenges facing young Canadian talent. The coaching team and I have had the opportunity to meet many young talents with some even making the trip to Amsterdam to train with us. The most recent Sigma players to arrive at AJAX did so well and we all are very happy for this. Thus I am quite glad to see that our teachings do not just end with the summer camps but continue with the Sigma ETC program and it's squads who travel to Europe to see us yearly. This is very important ensuring the players are in the perfect environment to continue to develop properly. All the coaches including myself look forward to returning to Canada for the camps this summer to not only see past participants but also meet new ones who will join us for first time."
"We are very happy at Sigma that this July will be year 3 of the camps here in Canada" states Bobby Smyrniotis, Camp Co-Director & Technical Director of Sigma. "The camps provide an ideal learning ground for participants, and this is clearly evident from their anticipation to attend again this year. Beyond this our friends from Amsterdam also have the opportunity to better understand the game here in Canada and provide the kids a memorable experience. The whole group at Sigma Sports Solutions, including our valuable Canadian coaching team looks forward to this summer's camp".
Central to the identification aspect of this camp will be the selection and invitation of talented individuals to become a member of Sigma's flagship ETC Program for the upcoming fall-winter ‘07/08. The program is based on training highly motivated and skilled soccer players in a team environment throughout the off-season winter months and often includes travel squads who hold development camps and attend events overseas. Over the first two years of the camps 4 players have had the opportunity to train at the famed "de Toekomst" training facility of AFC Ajax of Amsterdam, with an additional 60 players having the opportunity to travel to Holland for a series of matches with the top youth academies of the country.
Evidence of the success of Ajax's youth development model has a long rich history from the days of Johan Cruijff and Marco Van Basten to the present day with many of AJAX's youth players having graduated to the professional senior squad while others are all over Europe at top clubs, including Rafael Van der Vart (Hamburg) Wesley Sneijder (AJAX) Clarence Seedorf (Milan), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Juventus), Kiki Musampa (Athletico Madrid), Edwin Van der Saar (Manchester United), Edgar Davids (Totenham), Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal) Patrick Kluivert (Newcastle) Hedwiges Maduro (Ajax). This is just a small sample of the international stars that have successfully completed training at the Ajax youth academy under the direction of the academy coaching staff traveling to Toronto. The philosophy and system implemented on an every day basis at the Toekomst training center in Amsterdam is central to the development of all these world class stars.