Thursday, March 08, 2001

London youth players head overseas

By Alf De Blasis
LONDON, ON 8 March 2001

Four players from the London (Ontario) Soccer Academy have received offers of Professional Trials from Grimsby Town of the English First Division. Neils Dekker, Bobby Stipancic, Alan Hirmiz and Tom Kaczmarek, all of London, leave for England March 11 to participate in a ten-day training session with Grimsby.
"The boys will be lodging with other players and training on a daily basis,” commented Cam Vassallo, the Academy director. "There is also the possibility that the players will be involved in a reserve team game".

The events which led to the trials can be traced back almost a year. "I initially contacted Grimsby last May about a possible joint venture between our academy and their Club," Vassallo said. "I immediately was contacted by Ian Knight, head of Grimsby's youth academy, who welcomed the partnership".

The correspondence continued via Internet, with Knight visiting the London, Ontario school last December. During Knight’s visit, more than forty of London’s elite players, varying in age from 9 to 18, were showcased.

Knight was impressed with the caliber of players and, upon returning to England, he was given the green light to invite four students over for a trial. The possibilities for the players can range from a full scholarship to a pro contract.

"We are extremely hopeful that at least one of the boys will be successful during the trial," Vassallo said.

The Academy trains periodically during the winter months and Mario D’Oria, one of the instructors, commented on the boys’ preparation for the visit.

“When I learned that Knight was given the go ahead from club management to set up the trials for these players, it was a great feeling of joy for me,” D’Oria said. “Finally, we have been given the opportunity to showcase some of the best individual players the school has produced.

“This is what our school is about - to prepare and showcase the talent and, once it matures, see them join professional clubs worldwide. This, in my opinion, is an experience that these players will not easily forget whether they make it or not.”


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