New Galaxy owners aim to build another pro team, open academy
Soccer academy looking for help to rebuild CSL brand in BrantfordUpdated Wednesday February 4, 2015 by By Mike Peeling, Brant News.
An attempt to revive the Brantford Galaxy's professional team picked up steam at a meeting to drum up support for a new approach.
At least 20 members of the local soccer community listened to Tomo Dancetovic – who has purchased the Galaxy naming rights from the former owners – and former Galaxy volunteers Andrew Pilkington and Jim Turnbull outline a plan to build a Galaxy soccer academy and a professional men's team ages 16 and up.
"This guy's a hero," Pilkington said of Dancetovic's efforts to build a new Brantford Galaxy pro team and soccer academy within the Canadian Academy of Football (CAF), a developmental system created by the Canadian Soccer League (CSL).
Pilkington says they have learned a few lessons since 2012, the last season the Galaxy fielded a pro team in the CSL. Brantford's rights to a CSL franchise would have expired if Dancetovic had not stepped in to take over the name.
"We think this is pretty exciting news for the community," Pilkington said. "Everyone here shares a passion for the game and soccer … and doing what is best for our kids."
The plan is to follow a European approach to building a high-calibre, competitive and professional soccer organization that supports local youth leagues.
"We have lots of quality coaches here in Brantford and Brant County," Dancetovic said. "We can give youth a quality soccer academy here, and put them in a place where they can be seen by scouts."
Dancetovic said the plan is to build a strong developmental program over the next year by holding talent identification camps and then practice over the winter of 2015-16.
"We want to have the teams ready for May 2016," he said. "That will give us time to get them to the level they need to be."
Besides recruiting talent, Dancetovic said the biggest challenge for both the pro team and CAF teams is finding sponsors.
"We don't have buckets full of money," Pilkington said. "We need support from wherever we can get it."
The pro team players would also help nurture the younger talent by working as coaches for the soccer academy.
Turnbull told the attendees they also need help recruiting trainers and coaches.
"The more people involved, the better," he said.
Turnbull said City of Brantford councillors Larry Kings and Dan McCreary have expressed their support of the effort to build a soccer academy and pro team.
Dancetovic, Pilkington and Turnbull want to see outstanding soccer players in the area learn at the academy and try out of for the pro team, regardless of what league they play in. While they will focus on building one strong pro team up for the 2016 season, they hope the academy will lead to more pro teams as players develop to a higher levels of play.
One former under-16 Galaxy coach said he was skeptical because he once led a team that could have graduated to play at an elite level, but only a couple of the players and their families were willing to pay the additional cost to play pro and travel to games. Dancetovic said the quality of the new soccer organization will be what attracts players determined to play at an elite level, as well as the parents who want to support their dreams.
"When they see the quality, they will come," Dancetovic said.
Dancetovic said the new approach of building an academy to nurture local talent is "going to take a while."
"We have to build a quality CSL pro brand," Pilkington said. "It's time to put all the politics aside and start from scratch. The team is called Galaxy because it means to be inclusive. We need your help to do that."