July of 2008 will mark the fourth consecutive year that the coaching staff of the famed youth academy of AFC Ajax of Amsterdam will be making the trip to instruct in the Toronto area alongside the SIGMA organization. The cooperation between the two organizations has created a summer program and training camp environment like no other in the region. With three members of the Ajax staff including academy directors, technical training and coordination specialists instructing each week, the participants are provided an experience like that of the youth players within the Ajax system.
Patrick Ladru (Technical Director of the all teams 13 years old and under at Ajax) will be back for his fourth year in a row and is eager to see the improvement in the SIGMA players since the evolution of the SIGMA ETC program last fall, "We have had the pleasure of being a part of SIGMA for the past three years and this fourth year will be just as exciting. Over the years we at AJAX have seen SIGMA grow in its talent base immensely. This is evident from the success their 4 teams have had in traveling and competing in Holland over the past two years. It is not easy for teams from many countries even within Europe to compete with the Dutch system at all ages. The SIGMA groups have done an exceptional job when visiting our country and have gained the respect of many organizations. Our years in Canada have also provided the opportunity for a number of players from SIGMA to be provided training opportunities at our club, and we look to continue with this effort this year and beyond. Above all I look forward to evaluating the progress of the SIGMA players from the past and hope to see some new good talent in the camp that could join SIGMA going forward in their ETC program".
From a technical training perspective there are not many better around than Simon Tahamata. The former Ajax and Netherlands international star was widely known for his tremendous technical abilities on the ball as he played down the right and left wings respectively. His ability as a player to take opponents on at will on both flanks using both right and left feet in the same fashion created a nightmare situation for all defenders who faced him. Today Simon Tahamata is the Technical Training Specialist at Ajax. His role is simple; to work with all the teams and players at least once a week on technical matters in order to develop the younger players and keep the older ones sharp in their final stages of development. Simon will be making his 4th consecutive visit to Toronto this July and is looking forward to a few specific aspects, "I have been fortunate enough to instruct at the camp the past 3 years and have seen many of the same faces over this time period improve. I look forward to meeting these players once again in order to evaluate their progress along with learning about new talents that will be participating this year. The experience in the past has been great as the level of the players has been high from the first year. The players in Canada require a little more motivation and quality of training in depth of time and they will be able to increase their opportunities and realize their dream of possibly playing as a professional one day. As every year we will have our eyes wide open for the possible next talent. From our history here, we are sure we will find that player once again this year as in years past. I look forward to seeing all the SIGMA players in a week's time".
The SIGMA/AJAX Training camps will be taking place at the Hershey Center Outdoor fields during the weeks of June 30 to July 4 and July 7 to 11. With some slight changes to past camps, the organizers at SIGMA have added a few different elements along with a new structure to the camp in an effort to provide a better training environment focused on the development of the participants. For the first time the training camp has been divided into a two categories. In the first week of training participants will be born between the years of 1996 to 2000. In the second week of the camp the focus will shift to the older ages with all players born between 1990 to 1995 taking part. This slight adjustment will provide the coaching staff of the camp the opportunity to focus on the elements of training required for these two distinct groups with a greater focus on specific aspects of the game in each week.
With the above in mind the first week's participants will be under the instruction of AFC AJAX Youth Technical Director Patrick Ladru. Mr. Ladru will be responsible for outlining the week program designed to provide a week of training like that of young soccer hopeful in the AJAX youth academy in Amsterdam.
The second week participants will see a few new changes this year with the addition of Henk Mariman, Technical Director of Club Brugge, Coach Fred Thompson of Bowling Green St. University and Coach Rhett Goldsmith of Long Island University. The emphasis during this week will be focused on two vital aspects, intense development training and scouting. According to Technical Director of SIGMA; Bobby Smyrniotis, "Scouting will definitely be at the forefront this year as in the past. The players will not only have the opportunity to display their skills on and off the field with our visiting instructors, but we have also received commitment from a handful of Division I University coaches from the US who will be making the trip to the camp in order to evaluate and recruit the players within the SIGMA program. It is definitely an exciting time for our players and their future enhancement in soccer".
For anyone interested in enquiring about the SIGMA/AJAX Training camps or any SIGMA programs you may reach us at: