The summer of 2009 will mark the 5th anniversary of SIGMA's showcase event- the SIGMA AJAX camps. Over the past four years, over 1,000 participants from the age of eight to eighteen have been fortunate enough to experience the event and become familiar with the coaches and training methods of the world's leader in youth soccer development, AFC Ajax of Amsterdam. More recently leading youth development personalities from other top clubs and countries, with a similarly strong focus on exceptional youth development have been added to the already strong coaching team. The increased focus on the US college game with the addition of quality coaches from various top schools has proven quite popular as well with the older aged participants and will be a continued focus going forward for the camps.
"It's incredible that we have reached the 5th year of this great event. Each subsequent year has consistently improved truly making this a top event of its kind for Canada. The camps in the past have offered European trials to 6 players, recruitment of others to college programs and surely memories for a lifetime to all participants. This is a great accomplishment and speaks volumes of the relentless efforts of our organization" says Constantine Smyrniotis, Managing Director of SIGMA. "We have consistently provided the elite youth of the GTA the opportunity to train and be evaluated by our top quality technical team and their colleagues from some of the world's top youth academies and top college programs". The 2009 edition of the SIGMA AJAX camp will have an increased international appeal in celebration of the 5th anniversary. Henk Mariman (Technical Director) of Club Brugge, a leader in the area of youth development will return for a second year after a successful introduction in 2008.
According to SIGMA Technical Director Bobby Smyrniotis, "Our goal is to provide the participants an experience that will assist them in furthering their development in the sport. Our SIGMA coaching staff is top quality and that is evident from the results achieved in our ETC Program and SIGMA FC squads which trains 140 players. Our colleagues from AJAX and Club Brugge provide the European flair to the training camp while our visiting coaches from NCAA Div. I programs provide the recruiting possibilities for our older players. The camp has evolved immensely over the years. We have added the component of NCAA (university) recruiting to the mix as this should be the target of the majority of players in our region. This will definitely be major focus going forward and is in line with all our successful efforts throughout the year to attract top coaches/programs to see our players. As for the professional side of football, the exposure in the camps combined with the training at SIGMA and our affiliation with SEG (www.seginternational.com) provides all of our players the immediate resource to play at the top. It is in the players' hands to take advantage of these opportunities at SIGMA. In the end our Managing Director is a member of one of Europe's leading sport management agencies in representing players and coaches. The infrastructure is in place to provide players unique opportunities. It is events like these, along with SIGMA FC that provide the exposure to the players to reach all the different levels of the sport"
The SIGMA/AJAX camps will take place over a two week period at the Hershey Center with participants aged 13 (1996) & older training from June 29 – July 3 and Participants 12 (1997) years of age and under training from July 6-10. The camp will feature coaches from the famed youth department of AFC AJAX of Amsterdam, Club Brugge of Belgium along with 2-3 NCAA Div I University coaches.
The focus of the camps is threefold; development training under the top youth academy models in the world, direct recruiting from NCAA Universities and scouting for inclusion into the SIGMA FC / ETC yearly programs which are home to many of the regions top talents. According to SIGMA Technical Coordinator David Zonneveld the camps are beneficial to all participants, "The camps provide a great experience for all players to work closely under the direction of some great coaches from overseas and our very own SIGMA technical team. Our efforts in scouting over the years have allowed us to ensure the level of participants is strong to best match the technical program at hand. This provides new players attending an opportunity to understand the expectations upon them if invited to join the FC and ETC program at SIGMA. Our mandate is simply to provide the participants a great period of training and a soccer experience usually only afforded to the youth players of clubs such as AFC Ajax". Over the years and as a result of the annual camps SIGMA has had the opportunity to travel with 6 of their teams on invitational tournaments and tours of Europe and this tradition will continue as SIGMA looks to find new talent to join the SIGMA FC teams and ETC Program come the fall of 2009!
For more information please click here to go to the SIGMA / AJAX Camp Page