SIGMA FC Teams at their Base - Hotel Van der Valk - Akersloot

It was a chance to immerse two of SIGMA FC's younger teams fully into the culture of soccer.

The recently concluded European Camp held by SIGMA FC's C1 and D1 squads was successful on all counts, there were some strong results against some tough competition and there were moments that can best be described as "learning opportunities."

Bobby Smyrniotis would not have it any other way. He says that often Canadian teams go to Europe and get games against weaker sides and the ensuing results prop up a misunderstanding that Canadian teams are on par, or better, than their European counterparts.

This is simply not true, as the world rankings and countless examples attest. However, if you test yourself against quality opponents, Smyrniotis says, you can see learn first-hand, what is needed to do on the training ground when you get home.

SIGMAFC TD - Bobby Smyrniotis and C1 Coach John Zervos

SIGMA C1 Team @ Kras Stadion, FC Volendam

"In the end, it was 12 days of training and competing. The boys got to experience a great deal, and see different approaches to the game," said Smyrniotis, SIGMA's technical director.

"They watched AZ (Alkmaar) and Ajax first teams train, they immersed themselves in the culture the game."

SIGMA faced some of the top organizations in Holland, Belgium and Germany. Teams included FC Volendam, Dutch powerhouse PSV Einhoven, German club FC Koln (Cologne), Sparta Rotterdam, ADO-20, AZ Alkmaar and Belgium's Club Brugge, to name a few

Smyrniotis was especially pleased when he saw signs of growth and maturity from the teams. He pointed that the D1 team, a group made up of boys born in 1999, had a very mature reaction to some initial setbacks on the trip.

"The younger guys, one of the great things they did, as a sign of their maturity, they gathered in the rooms on their own initiative, and spoke about what they can do better, how they can implement the coaches plans better," he explained.

According to Smyrniotis, he saw a big improvement from the boys in their final two games against AZ Alkmaar and Brugge.

SIGMA D1 @ PSV Eindhoven

SIGMA D1 @ Sparta Rotterdam

"They played some of their best soccer against two of their toughest opponents. I appreciate seeing those aspects, those signs of growth," said Smyrniotis. "They are on the right path."

The players on both teams agreed that the experience helped broaden their awareness of what they can do to become better players.

Following SIGMA C1's match against PSV Eindhoven, Noah Mehta said that win, lose or draw, the focus was on playing better soccer.

"[PSV] played amazing soccer, they are one of the best teams [in Holland]. Even though they were tough competition, I believe we put up a fight and showed how Sigma plays soccer," he said.

SIGMA D1 faced a tough opponent in Germany's FC Koln and according to coach Phil Opassinis, it was an eye opener for some.

"It was a difficult match against FC Koln 99 team, they have good speed, good strength," he said. "One thing I have noticed in Europe, is the speed that everything is done, it is very quick and technical. The European teams make you work very hard off the ball, so overall it is a good experience, and our boys learned a lot more here than we can simulate in training."

SIGMA C1 Team @ Sparta Rotterdam

SIGMA C1 Team Starting XI @ ADO '20

Added D1 team co-captain Mohammed Omar: "I think the competition is tough. We came into the game knowing that it would be a tough competition. We are still learning a lot, and we will bring this back to Canada. We played amazing, we won a lot of possession, and had some attacking chances."

The SIGMA C1 and D1 teams have opened up their SAAC outdoor seasons and will be taking the lessons learned overseas and putting them to good use this season.

SIGMA Teams @ Club Brugge vs. Lierse SK

SIGMA Teams @ AZ Alkmaar vs. NAC Breda