Youth Academy is Off and Away!
Youth Academy training started this week for Lansing City Futsal. 21 teams will enter into the Winter season to develop their technical and tactical abilities and pursue a league, region, and national championship! We sat down with Youth Academy Director, Jeremy Klepal, to get a picture of what the Youth Academy is like and how it is progressing this year.
This will be City's 2nd winter season for the youth. What difference have you seen from then till now?
Futsal is a different sport than soccer. Even though much of the techniques and tactics can translate it really is unique. That transition from soccer to futsal is tough. The game is faster, the ball moves quicker, and you are under constant pressure when your team has the ball. What we are seeing now is that our players are getting accustomed to those differences and at times excelling at them!
Two Academy teams qualified for Nationals last year. What is the prediction for this year?
We have definitely attracted a good number of high quality players that most importantly are passionate about the game and about getting better. It is tough to predict any sport but especially futsal...but I do think we have some teams that could make it to nationals this year.
Four Youth Academy players were called up to the professional side this year. what significance does this have?
Our goal from day one is to develop elite futsallers for the professional stage. Our secondary goal is to develop elite soccer players through futsal. The professional stage of futsal is still in its infancy in the USA. However, we have seen tremendous growth in demand for it in Lansing. Our last game in the summer had over 700 fans in attendance. Even though that number might seem insignificant, it is among the highest in the country for regular attendance for futsal. My point is that I think professional futsal will continue to grow and be a legitimate option for post high school soccer/futsal players. We are seeing that now with the four players who were called up this year.
What is the training environment like for the youth academy?
High intensity. That is our goal. We want the training environment to be similar to a game environment. We as coaches are constantly pushing ourselves to improve the content of the sessions as well as the intensity of the sessions. We are serious about developing players and push ourselves to do so.
What is next for the youth academy?
Our goal is to continue expanding both in our knowledge of the game and how we train players and in our numbers. The bigger pool of players we have to work with the greater the "in house" competition becomes. That is the sign of a healthy environment. When you have players who are 11, 12, 13 etc who are coming to a training session and competing like its a game. That is gold.