Amherstburg Soccer Club aligns with Vardar Windsor soccer program



By Ron Giofu


Soccer players in Amherstburg have improved their chances of development as players and people thanks to a new partnership.

The Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC), which operates the Amherstburg Fusion travel programs as well as the house league soccer program at Larry Bauer Park and the Libro Centre, have affiliated with Vardar Windsor Premier Soccer Club as of 2018. ASC president Terry Sawchuk was thrilled with the new partnership.

“(Vardar) chose (Amherstburg) as their home base even before this partnership,” Sawchuk explained. “For us, this is huge. We’ve never had these kinds of resources before.”

The announcement was made last Saturday with Vardar Windsor president Lorenzo DiSalvo, technical director Rob Arce and coach Max Samsa.

Sawchuk said the Amherstburg Soccer Club is growing and as of last Saturday morning, had 482 players signed up. The partnership with Vardar has produced two new programs, the first of which is a U4 program that will be played Saturday mornings.

“Rob just felt it was important to work with the kids at a young age, just to make soccer fun,” said Sawchuk.

Sawchuk said he is “extremely excited” by the launch of the all-girls program. He noted that as enrolment in minor soccer expands, statistics show that 45 per cent of new players are girls.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever run it in Amherstburg,” said Sawchuk. “We felt it was a time to offer a program to help develop the girls.”

The Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC) has affiliated with the Vardar Windsor Premier Soccer Club. From left: Vardar Windsor president Lorenzo DiSalvo, Vardar coach Max Samsa, Vardar and ASC technical director Rob Arce and Amherstburg Soccer Club president Terry Sawchuk.

Arce – whose licenses include one from Argentina and others from Futsal-AMF and the U.S. national soccer program – will also become technical director with the Amherstburg Soccer Club and work with coaches as well as players at both the house league and travel levels.

“If we develop the coaches, we’ll develop the players,” said Sawchuk.

The project will start as a five-year initiative and Arce said the Vardar program offers nutritionists, psychologists, training and other features that local players could have access to. He added they want to create a “Fusion DNA” in which Amherstburg players will be known for. The plan is to develop “flex players” that will be “in your face, high pressure, technically sound players when we have the ball,” with Arce saying the goal when they don’t have the ball being to recover it as quickly as possible.

Samsa said they are not reinventing the wheel with the flex-style model “but we are inflating the tire” and developing local players. He said that soccer is a much different sport with a different style than hockey or football, so a player should be prepared to devote many hours to developing the soccer skillset if they wish to improve.

“We want them to buy into a philosophy,” said Arce.

Vardar Windsor also collaborates with Betty Bavagnoli, an Italian coach and former women’s national team member.

Vardar has clubs across the world, including Windsor, and is highly regarded. Over the five years it has been in Windsor, five players from the region have achieved athletic scholarships. DiSalvo said they can’t promise players anything but said they will help develop them and not just on the field, either.

“We’re trying to develop people,” said DiSalvo. “We’re trying to develop the person, not just the player.”

Sawchuk said whereas Amherstburg used to lose players to other areas, they now can keep players in Amherstburg due to the development of the Fusion program. He believes more will come in with the Vardar affiliation, which now allows players to develop further in Amherstburg.

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