The youngest members of Sigma's Elite Training Centre may only be six years old, and they may be years away from reaching their ultimate goal, but their path to success is already being carefully planned.
The Elite Training Centre (ETC Program) is Sigma's flagship training program. The players, who are selected via SIGMA's Summer Training camps, talent days and scouting reach, will spend the bulk of the year training under the eye of Sigma's coaching staff, working on technical aspects of the game therefore becoming the foundation for the next generation of players to play soccer the Sigma way.
The younger players focus on basic technical drills meant to prepare the players for more complex passing and moving drills when they move to the older age group in the ETC program.
From there, the players can follow the path blazed by Sigma's other successful FC teams, and play full time in the Sigma academy.
"This is the starting point for all our teams," said Sigma Technical Director Bobby Smyrniotis. "The ETC program is a good way for us to build the core of our future teams while providing an excellent technical development for young aspiring soccer enthusiasts."
The boys have embarked on a path many players have followed before them. Each stage of development requires many technical advances that will help the players' long-term development, said Smyrniotis.
In short, there is no time to waste.
"Our focus is to provide the highest quality of systematic training with a universal philosophy," said Smyrniotis. "We implement a program of proper development age related development. Our staff is experienced both on a national and international level."
Since forming in 2005, Sigma has successfully guided players, such as U.S. College standouts Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman, and European professional prospect Jerome Baker, to the next level.
Many of these players didn't come to Sigma when they were 11 or 12 years old. Smyrniotis notes that he feels lucky to have the ability to work with the ETC players at such an early age.
"Many of our older players look at the level of play from some of our teams that have come out of our ETC program and wish they could have been in their shoes," he explains.
The program focuses on training highly motivated and skilled soccer players in a pure soccer environment. The youngest groups of 2001-2004 born players train once a week with the ETC, focussing on technical exercises and coordination for the first half of the program before advancing to pressure situations in 1v1 and small sided game formats.
"The coaches use a universal approach that is evident throughout Sigma which is progressive in nature as the training season goes on." explains Smyrniotis.
In the next stage of the program, the 1998-2000 born players train twice a week with one session focused on technical drills and the other focusing heavily on passing and receiving and the all important aspect of "position play".
"These groups would be next on the radar for a Sigma FC team. In these programs we expect the players to be able to function in 1v1, 2v1 and 2v2 situations along with making them quicker in their passing a receiving play, via intriquete exercises and full understanding of position play (4v2 – 5v2, 5v3, etc)" Smyrniotis adds.
In this group, the coaches focus on correcting body positioning and focusing on proper passing and receiving mechanics. Speed of play is then increased in pressure situations. In doing this, the coaches can also work on improving the players' discipline in positioning and responsibility on the field.
The ETC players train out of the Rink City – Ultimate Sportsplex Indoor facility in Mississauga on Sunday afternoons and Monday evening.
For more information on the program, contact Sigma at: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an "Expression of Interest" form at http://www.sigma-sports.net/playerDev/interest.html