By Ottawa Sports Pages, For Ottawa TFC Soccer Club
Garneau high school and Ottawa TFC Soccer Club have partnered to raise the bar higher yet, collaborating to deliver the region’s first Sports-Études soccer program affiliated with a national youth licenced club.
Set to debut this fall, the new program will allow participants to receive coaching expertise and a curriculum required of the highest-level clubs in the country, and they’ll be placed directly on Canada and Ontario Soccer’s pathway for talented young soccer players looking to go as far as they can with the sport.
“It really allows us to make a big impact on players,” states Pat Boyle, the Sports-Études soccer program coordinator for Ottawa TFC. “It’s going to be a pretty cool opportunity to really help kids through the whole pathway from middle school to high school and on to the next level, whether it be university or professional.”
Following a regular school class schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sports-Études participants will spend their afternoons focused on soccer. They’ll work on technical soccer skills, physical training, mobility, athleticism and cross-training, tactical learning, mental health and mental performance training, goal-setting, positive team spirit and character/leadership skills, and they’ll be able to fuel up at optimal nutrition times.
Altogether, the program allows athletes to get more repetitions and training and to deepen their knowledge of the sport with a focus on finer details. Blending it all into the school day means student-athletes can pursue other interests in the evenings or better prepare themselves for the next day of school and sports.
“Now that we have that dedicated time in their daily routine, we can touch on more different aspects with the young athletes,” Boyle indicates. “Kids learn best during the day. It’s been proven in a lot of the European academies and clubs – that’s how they do it, they integrate it with their school.”
With Sports-Études running from Grade 7 through 12, the program also provides the chance for students to experience a daily high-performance environment from a younger age.
“It’s something that we typically do with some of our higher pathway athletes for the most part, but to be able to do it with the school makes it pretty exciting,” Boyle adds. “This is an opportunity to up the ante and to push the envelope to the next level.”
With high-performance partnerships already activated in other sports, Garneau’s sports program is on the rise – quite literally, in fact. Garneau’s sports dome is currently under construction, with plans to open for next school year, when Sports-Études soccer will also kick off.
Himself a Garneau high school and CÉCCE French Catholic school board graduate, Boyle is thrilled to be leading the new initiative.
“Working with young people is really something that’s near and dear to my heart,” underlines Boyle, who helped coach Ottawa TFC to an Ontario Player Development League U17 Girls’ championship in 2021 as well as the region’s first national championship at the top youth level the year before.
“I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the group at Ottawa TFC to get a really, really cool program developed and delivered.”
While the Garneau program’s technical instruction will be led by Ottawa TFC, players can participate in Sports-Études soccer regardless of club affiliation, and they will be able to access game, tournament and league competition opportunities through the program.
The Sports-Études program will kick off with two levels: for Academy-level players who are already in the Ontario Provincial Development League pathway, and another open to regional and competitive players who aspire to get to that level.
The first of two evaluations took place the week before March Break, with another planned around the end of the month. Over 30 players attended the first set of trials.
“The quality was quite good all over the field, so that was encouraging, and the kids were really keen, and the parents were really keen, so there was a lot of enthusiasm,” recounts Boyle, adding that studying at Garneau can be very attractive to students who want to be fully bilingual.
The Garneau-Ottawa TFC partnership is the first of its kind in Ottawa, and Boyle believes the groundbreaking collaboration could inspire others between clubs and schools in the future.
“We’re really excited about this program,” he signals. “It’s an opportunity for our club to really get engaged with the community. I think it’s excellent news for soccer in Ottawa.”
Learn more about the Garneau/Ottawa TFC Sports-Études program here.