Toronto FC Academy are sending a group of players to France for a training and exhibition program over the coming week.
The side departs tomorrow (Friday, September 16) and returns next Wednesday, September 21.
The stint will take place at the esteemed and spectacular Clairefontaine national training facility on the outskirts of Paris – ‘spectacular’ hardly does the place justice.
Clairefontaine is the central hub of twelve elite training academies located around the country that oversee the development of the best players in France. Clairefontaine itself focuses on those from the Île-de-France region, as well as the nation's coaches.
The list of graduates is impressive: Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas, Olivier Giround, and Blaise Matuidi, to name but a few.
“It's not every day that you get to visit the French Football Federation headquarters in Clairefontaine,” said the U15 coach, Anthony Capotosto. “They have a rich history and they use Clairefontaine as a means of developing their youth national teams, as well as their coaches. For us to be there is a great honour, a great privilege, and we're very excited about this opportunity.”
The side will mostly be comprised of players from the club's U15 academy side – born in 2001, who normally play a year up in the OYSL (Ontario Youth Soccer League) U16 division.
At least sixteen players will be making the trip – two goalkeepers and fourteen outfield – five of whom are 2002s.
The players are understandably elated about the opportunity.
“They've been talking about it. They've mentioned it at training sessions. There's a lot of excitement within the group,” said Capotosto. “For some of them it's their first time travelling to France, so it's going to be a great experience.”
TFC will train daily leading up to a friendly encounter against a representative Clairefontaine side, composed of players from the U16 French national team program – their 2002 group.
“[The] exhibition game [is] an opportunity for us to be exposed to some international competition.” said Capotosto. “But also, because we're doing a coaching assessment, our players are going to get to work with fifteen other coaches from across Major League Soccer. The sessions being prepared are for the final evaluations for each candidate, so we can expect some quality sessions while we're there as well.”
No doubt a unique and exciting challenge for the young men making the voyage.
The trip is part of the MLS-FFF partnership that was announced back in 2013. Capotosto is a member of the second cohort of MLS coaches to undergo the gruelling Elite Formation Coaching Licence (EFCL).
“I've never experienced a course that was this demanding and rewarding,” said Capotosto of the program. “My coaching education has been limited to North America – Canada and the US; to have this European experience was very beneficial for me personally.”
“Some of the candidates have referred to it as a Master's Degree in Coaching. It would be equivalent to the work that you would do in a Graduate Program.”
Exciting times no doubt for youth development in Toronto, Canada, and North America.
Travel Roster (16 Players):
- G - Anthony Cerminara
- G - Rimi Olatunji
- D - Alexander Krakowiak-Castro
- D - Jaytin Pabla
- D - Tysen Phillips
- D - Daniel Raimondo
- M - Julian Altobelli
- M - Lucas Areco
- M - Matthaus Garcia
- M - Rohan Goulbourne
- M - Elijah Le
- M - Jacob Lozano
- M - Joe Mac
- M - Jayden Nelson
- F - Ryan Robinson
- F - Jacen Russell-Rowe