The first annual Dynamo Juniors weekend took place last weekend at the Houston Amateur Sports Park. Almost 40 Dynamo Juniors teams from five different locations, ranging in age from U-9 to U-18, converged on Houston to meet their fellow members of the Dynamo organization.
Teams of boys and girls from McAllen, Austin, and El Paso in Texas and from Lafayette, La., and Gulf Breeze, Fla., played a total of 72 friendly games over the weekend and also attended the Dynamo-Sounders match on Saturday night at Robertson Stadium. In fact, they virtually overflowed the field providing a rally tunnel for the starting lineups.
The round-robin tournament, though not an official competition between the teams, was inspired by the Dynamo Academy's recent trip to the Eurovoetbal tournament in the Netherlands, which used 20-minute halves for most games. The shorter games made for exciting and quick action-packed games throughout the weekend, with most teams playing four games in two days.
With the Dynamo Juniors program about one year old, the weekend was a celebration of all things Dynamo and all things orange. In addition to going on the Robertson Stadium field Saturday night, players also got to meet first team midfielder Josue Soto, himself a Dynamo Academy graduate, during the weekend. Soto signed autographs, took pictures, and gave advice to the young Dynamo fans and aspiring Dynamo hopefuls.
“I think it’s a great event for the first time, and I can see it only getting bigger and better each year,” said Gary Hamilton, the director of Dynamo Juniors McAllen. “It’s fabulous to see all the new Dynamo Juniors from around the county, and this only helps expand the player pool for the Dynamo in the future.”
Dynamo Juniors offers soccer players outside of the Houston region the chance to be part of the Houston Dynamo organization. The ever-expanding program already has established programs in El Paso, Texas; McAllen, Texas; Lafayette, La.; Gulfport, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; and Gulf Breeze, Fla. The goal of Dynamo Juniors is to help grow soccer in those regions and give more players the opportunity to achieve their dream of playing professional soccer. Select players will be asked to join the Dynamo Academy full time and will train under the direct supervision of Houston Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson. Four Houston-area products have already made their way to the Dynamo first team via the Dynamo Academy, and now players from four more states will have similar opportunities.
“What we are aiming to do is expand our player pool in terms of identification of players, but also have an impact in the growth and development of the sport,” Clarkson said. “This will impact all levels, from grassroots, all the way through elite players.”