The FC Dallas Academy wasn’t around when players like Clint Dempsey and Jose Torres were coming up through the ranks of youth soccer in East Texas en route to successful professional careers, but that was all soon to change.
On Monday March 17th 2014, a contingent of representatives from FC Dallas made the short trip east to announce the sixth FC Dallas affiliate in Tyler, Texas.
“The event was great,” said Chris Clarke, FC Dallas Director of Juniors Player Development. The community really rallied together to try and introduce people to the idea that FC Dallas is coming to Tyler and the east Texas region, and to get them excited about the partnership with the professional club. There were probably around 160 kids that came out for the clinic which was supported by TJCC players.
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Just 100 miles east of Dallas, the new affiliate in Tyler will become the closest one to Frisco, allowing for a partnership that will be extremely tangible and beneficial for both sides.
“We get approached all the time by people who want to be affiliates and for many of them it’s not a good fit,” said Chris Hayden, Vice President of FC Dallas Youth. “But in discussions with this group, we felt like it was the right area with the right people at the right time for us to get together with them.”
For FC Dallas, there are many benefits including the obvious one of identifying players at a young age that could potentially come to Dallas as the next step in their development path. For Tyler soccer, uniting around the affiliation with FC Dallas should bring together a soccer community that has been somewhat fractured at times.
“They’re close enough where if they have those elite players that have reached the pinnacle of their local environment, they can come in and train at any moment,” said FC Dallas Youth Affiliate Director Ben Waldrum. “We can identify those players early for our [girls] ECNL program and boy’s academy, so it made a whole lot of sense when we started talking to them.”
WATCH KETK: FC Dallas now affiliated with east Texas
“I think what you’re going to see happen with that is there’s a few different clubs in the area, but by the response in East Texas those guys are all starting to come together under one umbrella and so that’s the positive. They’ll grow tremendously right away.”
The next step now is to get the east Texas talent organized, identified and on the right path so the next Clint Dempsey or Jose Torres dreams of playing at Toyota Stadium rather than the Bernabeu or Estadio Azteca.
“The challenge is to put a player on the right path, surround them with the right people and then put them on a development path which will help them whether it’s pro, college or high school,” said Clarke. “Just the affiliation with a pro club and to wear a pro club shirt is huge.”