Photo credit: Indy Eleven/Trevor Ruszkowski
The bar has been set once again.
FC Edmonton product Shamit Shome recently became the first Canadian in Major League Soccer (MLS) history to sign a Generation adidas pro-contract, while also becoming the most recent player from the FC Edmonton Academy to make the jump to North America’s first division of soccer (following Amer Didic in 2016). Shome will enter the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, where he is currently ranked fourth overall among prospective players.
The 19-year-old midfielder is perhaps FC Edmonton’s highest profile success story to date, which speaks volumes considering every single graduate of the Academy program has moved on to either a professional career or a post-collegiate opportunity in Canada, the United States, or abroad.
Academy technical director and First Team assistant coach Jeff Paulus began the Academy – a fully funded program by FC Edmonton owners Tom and Dave Fath – in 2012 with staff coach and academic advisor Paul Kelly, and has begun to see a steady stream of national team call-ups, as well as post-secondary and professional opportunities arise for his young players.
Shome – who arrived at the FC Edmonton Academy from Southwest United soccer club – is the latest and greatest example of what the Academy can provide for the right individual.
“Shamit’s play and his movement off the ball, his ability to keep his team in possession of the ball is a direct indicator of what we preach in the Academy,” Paulus said. “We think that one of the missing elements in youth development is what players are doing off the ball, so we spend a great deal of training on this aspect of the game through our tactical periodization model. Shamit has really become the poster child for our Academy for playing without the ball and we hope to continue to produce players with his incredible soccer IQ in the future.”
While undoubtedly skillful on the ball, Shome’s attitude has been an asset of equal importance during his time at FC Edmonton.
“Shamit is an example of where you can take your game when you combine a certain level of play with a mental focus and attitude in the game,” Paulus said. “When you talk about attitude and commitment, determination, he has all that. But he is also a really intelligent kid, he is self-driven and self-motivated, these are the intangibles for good young players. If you combine the right attitude with a certain skill level and the early technical support of local soccer clubs that we have been getting, then you’ll find the success that Shamit has.”
With an upcoming group of young talent currently developing at the Academy’s U-16 and 18 age levels, Paulus sees Shome’s jump to MLS as just the beginning of what’s to come.
“With our Academy being in a Division II program I think it’s our responsibility to help push players on to a higher level,” Paulus said. “Of course the other benefit to our Academy is our goal of becoming self-sustaining by being able to move these players on. Hopefully Shamit opens the door for future players in our Academy, and what it hopefully does is make us relevant to other programs in MLS who can take a look at what we’re doing at FC Edmonton.”