The Houston Dynamo Academy recently brought together players from throughout the Houston area as part of the Catalyst Foundation, which launched a collaborative and developmental partnership between the Academy and Dynamo Dash Youth and Total Football Club (TFC).
“The Catalyst program is vitally important to our collective mission, as it focuses on the Foundation Phase (ages 9-12). Our objective is to build a strong future for hundreds of young players each year, while also improving coach and player development through consistent methodology and programming,” Dynamo Academy Director, Paul Holocher said. “We are very excited to see ourselves not just as coaches of teams, but as a team of player developers. Justin Neese, our Director of Foundation, and the full staff of the Catalyst Foundation program have the goal of putting put player development at the forefront of everything we do, from Coach Education, to our methodology, to player programming. This is a new program, but we feel we have made excellent strides in developing a program that can become a real model for player development and opportunity.”
The U12’s are preparing for the Generation Adidas Cup and around 30 players have been invited in from various Catalyst Foundation campus sites to train together under the lights of Houston Sports Park. On this evening these young players were brought through a technical warm-up and then immediately jumped into 7 v 7 games, which is the format that will be used in the U12 GA Cup, which will take place from Nov. 27th to Dec. 1st in Atlanta.
“It felt really good, seeing lots of good players here,” Catalyst Foundation player Amagai Agbu said, “they pass the ball really good and you can see the potential.”
The GA Cup is possibly the most important competition for young players in the MLS development system. Founded in 2007, the Generation Adidas Cup (GA Cup) has provided a venue for the top young talent in the country to compete against each other, and holds events in the U12, U15, and U17 age. Since 2014, the GA Cup has hosted not only MLS teams, but also many of the most storied international teams and academies in the world.
“The GA Cup is always an exciting event as you get to match up with many top players from the all the other MLS clubs in a first-class event,” Holocher said, “We are looking forward to sharing this opportunity with the young players from within our Catalyst Foundation programs.”
After several training sessions and evaluations around 24 players will be selected and formed into two teams for the event, to represent the Houston Dynamo, the Catalyst Foundation program and the city of Houston.
“We are bringing together an initial pool of about 33 players to train and we will be having several more of these training sessions over the coming weeks to train and evaluate,” Holocher said, “We will play and also train on some important themes within our Game Model. As coaches, it is always very difficult to select just 24 players from within such a great group of players, but the players understand that more opportunities always come. Each player develops differently and the key is simply to continue to work hard and keep developing.”
It seems every player is aware of the work it will take for them to prepare for the GA Cup and perform well. Leo Gitau, a Dynamo Academy U12 player, had a simple reaction to the introduction of the GA Cup, but it was a reaction that spoke for the rest of the players present.
“Time to work hard,” Gitau said.
For more information on the Dynamo Academy or Catalyst Foundation program go to www.houstondynamoacademy.net. The Dynamo Academy are also on Twitter (@DynamoAcademy) and Instagram (@houston_dynamo_academy).