The 5th Anniversary of the SIGMA Camps came to a close in late July and on all accounts was the best year ever. The annual event, like no other in the country in terms of the quality of technical team, participants and program once again provided talents local, from the US and international the opportunity to not only train with professional European educators of the beautiful game, but educators from many of Europe's top clubs.

On a stroll to the Hershey Center in Mississauga (location of the camp) one would see coaches and Technical Directors from pro clubs such as AFC Ajax, Arsenal FC, Tottenham Hotspurs, Club Brugge and Real Mallorca of the Primera Division. Each week of the camp focussed on specific age groups providing the 115 players per week a focused approach to training. Among the technical team is Bobby Smyrniotis- SIGMA FC Technical Director and initiator of SIGMA FC camp 5 years ago. "It is fantastic to see how well this camp has grown from our first year in 2005. We have worked hard at making this the best it can be both on and off the field. When we started with the camps we wanted this to be a place for many of the regions top players to come and learn, and I believe we have accomplished this. The feedback from our European colleagues has been great and we look forward to further increasing our relationships with all of the clubs for the benefit of the local talent".

While taking a closer look on the pitch one would notice a few more foreign coaches on the field. These ones were not representing the glitz and glamour of European football but US Universities. Beyond the European staff, the camp had three Division One coaches representing the University of Pittsburgh, Siena and Adelphi Universities. Their role at the camp was to provide all high school aged players an inside look into the university game and scholarship system. Beyond that many of the players impressed enough to get their names on the radar of these schools! According to Bobby Smyrniotis this is the route for the majority of skilled players, "playing professionally is for the very rare few. We have been blessed at SIGMA over the years with providing our players pro opportunities to test their abilities but we are also realistic in the path where more players can and should succeed. By having three Division I University coaches in attendance we are providing our players with direct exposure from a scouting and training perspective. Many players travel to University camps in the US to gain such an experience. At SIGMA we are providing that same atmosphere on the players' doorstep! Our network in the US is growing rapidly as we have had our first graduating class with 7 scholarships to the US and successful showings at showcase events. People south of the border are taking notice of our professional organization and the quality of players present".

On the field the participants training in their own age groups cycled through various stations of training on one of two full sized field turf pitches used for the camp. Here the focus was on coordination training with Renaldo Landberg of AFC Ajax, Position Play with Ryan Gordon, Technical Training with SIGMA specialist Phil Opassinis and guest coach Garrincha Figuerido (formerly of Benfica). Players on the other field went through technical tactical sessions under the guidance of Club Brugge Technical Director, Henk Mariman, Director of Player Development for Tottenham; Chris Ramsey, Youth coach and Director of Soccer Schools for Real Mallorca; Arno Buitenweg and KNVB technical educator Joop Lensen.

The players on the field are focused and work hard throughout the day doing their utmost best to prove to the local and foreign contingent of coaches that they are eager to learn and develop. Two daily training sessions along with a daily information session keep the players busy on and off the pitch and their enthusiasm and work ethic do not go unnoticed. As for the visiting team of coaches they are truly satisfied with all aspects of the camp. According to Renaldo Landberg "this has been the best one (camp) in his 3 years that I have been attending. I can see that the level of player is getting better year by year. I am aware that many of the boy's train with SIGMA throughout the year and this is crucial as we can also monitor development of the players over the years". Arno Buitenweg who took part in his first camp with SIGMA reiterates his pleasure working with all the boys over the 2 week period, "I did not know what to expect prior to my arrival other than having a very good relationship with the directors of SIGMA. During the camp I have learned a great deal about the players here in Canada and their training habits. On my end I did my best to provide them an inside look as to how training takes place daily at a Primera Division Club such as Real Mallorca. There is definitely talent on the field and only time will tell if a few can make the leap to bigger and better".

The English Premiership was also well represented at this year's camp with coaches from Arsenal and Tottenham. "This was definitely a great experience for me", commented Chris Ramsey. "A few of the talents did catch my eye and its good to know they are in great hands with the SIGMA technical team. I would love to return again in the future and maybe even host some of the SIGMA FC teams and players in London soon!".

All in all the 5th Anniversary camp was a tremendous success and SIGMA FC thanks all those that made it so special. All new talents had the opportunity to take part in a very valuable development event like no other and hopefully having taken away with them the valuable lessons taught to them on a daily basis by the coaching team. Post camp, all SIGMA FC players returned to their competition and training schedules including participation at the Score of the Shore Showcase event in the US.

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