FC Edmonton Academy Continues To Push Players To The Next Level

The Eddies continue to develop players that earn college scholarships or professional deals
James Nielsen (@_JamesNielsen} | Aug 21, 2015

When FC Edmonton Academy’s 2015 Edmonton District Soccer Association (EDSA) season concludes, it will also mark the official end to the tenures of longtime academy players Shamit Shome and Thomas Shores, as the pair of players head into the next stage of their soccer careers at the collegiate level.

Shores and Shome are far from the only success stories that the FC Edmonton Academy has produced since starting in 2012, but they are the most recent. The duo have risen in the past year to represent Canada at the international level, something that looks destined to continue for the two despite their upcoming commitments to CIS and NCAA universities. FC Edmonton Academy has a staggering 100-percent success rate of its full-time academy players either recieving a scholarship or offer to play professionally following their involvement with the program.

“Thomas would have been 13 or 14 [when he first made an appearance with the National Training Center],” Canadian U-20 and U-18 men's national head coach Rob Gale recalled. “He was a very slight lad, but you immediately recognized him as a good footballer. He liked to get on the ball and make things happen. He was comfortable in possession. We thought, ‘Oh, we have a player on our hands.’“

Shome’s involvement with Canada Soccer is a more recent development, yet is a relationship that has quickly gained momentum. The now 18-year-old gained attention in his last year as a U-16 when Gale saw the young midfielder’s play during provincials. Shome saw his national team debut at a camp in France last October, coming in at a halftime and impressing Gale and the coaching staff immediately. Shores also impressed in his debut, seeing minutes last April in Slovakia against the same nation.

“Great credit to them both,” Gale said. “They are great footballers and good technicians. It allowed them to settle into a possession-based game and really show no nerves despite the level of play.”

The pair’s success at the international level is no accident. Gale and FC Edmonton Academy Technical Director Jeff Paulus have worked together for years and along with the National Training Centre Prairies, have communicated together on the province’s upcoming talent – much of which is stemming from FC Edmonton’s Academy program.

“Jeff Paulus is a good colleague of mine,” Gale added. “We lean on him heavily for the Prairie and Alberta market. It’s been fantastic between him and [FC Edmonton head coach] Colin Miller. They are always looking out for the interest of the young players, you can see it with the ones who are progressing into the first team. It’s a model example of how academies should be running and getting those players progressing. They are always promoting and trying to get those players they think deserve the opportunity a chance at the international level.”

The Eddies’ first team has seen a major influx of academy talent during the 2015 NASL season, with several players such as Hanson Boakai, Mallan Roberts, Sadi Jalali and brothers Allan and Bruno Zebie seeing valuable minutes on the pitch. If the academy program needed further proof of doing things the right way, they can look back to their upcoming group of players, which saw both Noah Cunningham and Zach Rochat recently returning from the Exact 50 Elite Soccer camp, in which the pair stood out amongst academy players from several Major League Soccer (MLS) academies.

“I would like to reiterate what a great job the club is doing,” Gale concluded. “All of us at the national team level have a terrific working relationship with the club and I think it’s great that Hanson, Allan, Sadi are getting first team opportunities and we hope it continues. From everyone from Cole to Noah to Sham and Thomas who have come in with us, we look forward to seeing them progress with the club and into the senior men’s national setup, because that’s what it’s all about.”

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