It's a mix of old and new for the 2011 edition of the Sigma International ID camp, but with a distinct Portuguese flavour this year.

In addition to coaches from camp regulars Club Brugge and Real Mallorca, Sigma FC is pleased to add coaches from Portuguese powerhouses Sporting Lisbon and SL Benfica, along with Scottish heavyweight Celtic FC and German Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin for the seventh edition of the annual SIGMA International ID Camp that will be held in Mississauga at the Hershey soccer fields.

It's shaping up to be one of the most diverse and exciting editions of the annual camp, said Sigma FC technical director Bobby Smyrniotis, who will once again supplement the camp with a strong contingent of U.S. NCAA Division I coaches.

"We are excited that we are getting coaches in from Portugal, who are very good at developing the individual aspects of the player," said Smyrniotis. "When you look at Sporting, you think of Christian Ronaldo."

The addition of coaches from teams such as Sporting, Benfica, Celtic and Hertha Berlin will only enhance the technical training the players will receive at the camp. Ultimately, the goal of the camp is to provide aspiring young players the best environment to grow as players.

Sigma managing director Constantine Smyrniotis considers this year's camp to be second to none in terms of the quality of instruction.

For Week 2 of the camp, set aside for players born between 1997-2004 and running from July 4-8, he said the young players will get their first taste of true world-class coaching.

Despite the addition of new faces, the Sigma ID camp will still have some of the coaches who have made the camp part an annual part of their schedule.

"We always try to make sure that we have something steady from the past," explained Smyrniotis. "Coach Arno (Buitenweg, from Spain's Real Mallorca), is in the third year at the camp, and he is very familiar with the players, the environment and expectations of the event."


Arno Buitenweg - Real Mallorca

Jef Vanthournout - Club Brugge


Many of the coaches who have come to the Sigma camp have moved on to larger roles within their professional clubs. This underscores the point Smyrniotis makes when he talks about how valuable the camps can be for the players.

Last year, two coaches from Dutch powerhouse AZ Alkmaar, Dennis Haar and Nick van Aart, were both promoted to the first-team of AZ Alkmaar. Sparta Rotterdam's Pascal Jansan has been promoted to the first team as a coach. And camp co-director Henk Mariman has been promoted to technical director of the whole operation at Club Brugge.

"It seems that we are launching pad for those guys," laughed Smyrniotis.

This is indeed true for the players as well. In 2010, four Sigma players were identified through the camp for training opportunities in Europe with Real Mallorca and Club Brugge.

These opportunities were a natural consequence of the work done at the camp, noted Smyrniotis.

Another very important area that has grown over the years at the Sigma ID camp, is the inclusion of coaches from the NCAA in the United States. This year is no different.


Henk Mariman - Club Brugge

Carlo Acquista - Adelphi University


Four coaches -- Carlo Aquista from Adelphi University, Mike Jacobs from the University of Evansville, Dan Popik from Furman University and Marco Koolman from Boston College -- will be working with the older players.

"These coaches are rated very highly in the ranks of college coaching, and they represent very good programs in the U.S. They definitely can be part of future opportunities for participants of the camp that are deemed worthy," said Smyrniotis.

It's not just about recruiting either, said Smyrniotis.


Dennis Haar - AZ Alkmaar

SIGMA Players in Action 2010 Camp


"For the coaches, it is enjoyable experience in itself, beyond the recruiting, being around good players, networking and better understanding the local game for a week. We have close working relationships throughout the year, and this is just a chance to do it all in person while working with local talents," said Smyrniotis. "And yes, they are always looking for that next player."

Preparing for the camp, Smyrniotis cautions players to be focused and determined at the camps because it is a unique opportunity.

"A lot of players think that they have to go somewhere for a tryout, to a college campus visit or a college soccer camp to be seen by coaches, but here is a chance to be seen on their own backyard," he said. "At the end of the day, the players are being monitored, the players who show something extra and catch the eye of one of our colleagues from abroad or south of the border, will definitely get some kind of opportunity."


Aerial view of 2010 Camp

2000 born players at 2010 Camp


Space is limited for players not part of Sigma. Coach Smyrniotis estimated there was room for about five players per age group for the first week of camp. In the second, for the younger ages, there is room for about 10 players per age group.

"And really, for Week One, players must have the level to blend in with the talent level at the camp. We try to be selective with it. At the youngest ages, we give the players an opportunity to learn and have fun, but after that you are really only looking for quality players," he explained.

The two-week camp kicks off on June 27-July 1 for players born between 1993-1996. The second week runs July 4-8 for players born 1997-2004.

For more information and registration click here.