In the eight years since its first-ever International ID Camp in 2005, Sigma FC has grown from humble beginnings into an eight-team organization with more than 130 players with multiple national team players and countless players at the post-secondary level.

Standing tall requires a strong footing, and that foundation is the annual Sigma International ID Camp.

The academy has thrived in large part because it pays close attention to details and maintains a highly organized structure. In this way, the annual camp serves as an annual benchmark used to measure the club's success. The academy coaches want to make each successive Sigma International ID Camp better than the one before.

To that end, Sigma has assembled a collection of coaches for the two-week camp that is unrivalled in Canada. The 2012 edition of the camp will take place once again at Mississauga's Hershey Centre soccer fields. It will feature leaders in player development from five European clubs and from six of U.S. College's top programs. Such is the reputation the camp has garnered, it is not uncommon to see coaches from non-participating programs turn up to line the sidelines to watch sessions, unofficial visitors keen to see the talent on display.

"We understood in the beginning where we wanted to go, the camps have provided the platform for our constant growth," said Sigma FC Technical Director Bobby Smyrniotis. "Now we are here in year number eight, and it keeps getting better and better."

According to Smyrniotis, the presence of repeat coaches this year is proof that Sigma is laying a strong foundation with clubs in Europe who focus on developing players. In addition, the increase in the number of U.S. College coaches adds a strong recruiting component to the camp that is a huge benefit to the players.

This year's camp features David Moss of Glasgow Celtic (Scotland), Henk Mariman of Club Brugge (Belgium), Arno Buitenweg of Real Mallorca (Spain), Pascal Jansen of Sparta Rotterdam (Holland) and Florian Wolff of FC Cologne (Germany). One more coach will be added to the line-up up in the coming weeks.

From the U.S. College ranks, the coaches will include Carlo Acquista of Adelphi, Mike Jacobs of University of Evansville, Craig Waibel of the University of Michigan, Marco Koolman of Holy Cross, Mike Miller of Syracuse University and Steve Simmons of Oregon State University.

All the NCAA coaches know the Sigma program and the calibre of players on display at SIGMA and the ID camps. Beyond that many of the schools above have directly recruited from the SIGMA environment, whether it be watching trainings and matches throughout the year, or attending the December Sigma FC Showcase event.

Several Sigma FC players have parlayed time with the European coaches in past camps into training oppportunities overseas. In the past year, Sigma players travelled to Spain, Belgium, Holland and Germany for training periods.

Henk Mariman, a leader in youth development will be back for another year with SIGMA. Mariman is generally considered to be one of Europe's foremost innovators when it comes to training methods and club organization and its influence in developing players. "We are very pleased to have Henk back after a one year absence due to first-team duties at Club Brugge in Belgium" said Smyrniotis.

Smyrniotis says that it isn't just the players that benefit from the coaches.

"Every year, we get to this point, about one month away, it is an exciting time for the coaches," he explained. 'We get a lot of friends in from the U.S. and Europe, but more importantly, it is a chance to develop as coaches."

In the lead up to the camp, Smyrniotis challenges his players to refine their focus and approach to training so that they are at their best. This serves two purposes. In one way, it prepares the players to show their best. But it also serves to set the proper mindset and attitude so that new players that come to the camp for the first time learn what playing for Sigma is all about.

And that is particularly important when building a soccer club. "About 80 per cent of our current players first came to us through the camp," said Smyrniotis.

"It's a great week to see how professional we are, and how we do things," added Smyrniotis. "Everything we do at the camp flows into our programs the rest of the year."

Week one of the ID Camp takes place June 25-29 at Mississauga's Hershey soccer fields and it designed for Sigma FC players and select additional players aged 13 and older. The second week takes place from July 2-6 and is meant for players between the ages of 7-14. Select players will be invited back for a further week of camp under the direction of the SIGMA FC technical team.

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