MEMBER CLUB SPOTLIGHT | MATCH FIT ACADEMY
RICHMOND, VA (January 29, 2018) – The Boys Elite Clubs National League was founded to provide a top level, club-based development, training, and competition platform for youth male soccer players. Match Fit Academy is one of the founding member clubs of the Boys ECNL and is an “All-In” ECNL member club with the top girls and boys teams in the club participating in the corresponding leagues.
Match Fit Academy was co-founded in 2000 by Malcolm Murphy and John Calcaterra with four boys teams in the inaugural season. From day one, the club has been focused on developing young people, who through the game of soccer, will help further the game in New Jersey and the United States. This will be accomplished by educating teams and passing along knowledge and life lessons, so players can learn from those that have come before them.
Match Fit Academy believes the Boys ECNL will provide a National level pathway for players, setting the standard in league play and showcases, coupled with player and coach development.
This past week we sat down with Match Fit Academy Executive Director, Chris Leahey to talk about Match Fit Academy’s methods on improving players on and off the field, in addition to college placement.
Q: What sets Match Fit Academy apart from other youth clubs in your area?
A: Our club has always had incredibly dedicated and passionate staff and coaches, which we feel is the core of our success. We have numerous alumni who have and are currently working in the club, aside long-term coaches that have played a big part in the improvements made over the past few decades. We provide a true academy training atmosphere geared toward developing individual mentality while creating a team and club culture. We instill club wide expectations, standards and values; building a learning environment where players learn from each other. Club members are often scheduled to train together with different age groups and levels to develop a sense of club loyalty and familiarity. While we play on a national platform, we are one of the smaller clubs in the country by size, however, we are able to foster a club atmosphere where players and staff all know each other and represent the badge on their shirt with the same pride and passion.
Q: What are the club’s core values?
A: Our club is dedicated to fostering the development of young people, not just soccer players. Acquiring life skills is paramount to youth development in sport, as youth players mature into young adults. We strive to instill integrity, professionalism, discipline, respect, commitment and a sense of community in all of our teams and players.
Q: What is the ultimate goal for your players?
A: The ultimate goal for our players from the early ages onward is to focus on development toward achieving what we call “the next level”, collegiate soccer. Players in our club are made to understand they must have a core competency and application in the four pillars of the game: technical, tactical, physical and psychological. All players at Match Fit Academy strive on the pitch, and in the classroom, to achieve the collegiate level. In our eighteen years, we have had over twenty players progress in this sport to make it their full-time profession.
Q: What is Match Fit Academy doing to help their players get scouted? Does Match Fit Academy help the player seek out college programs, or does the selection process rest solely on the player?
A: College placement is a main focus at our club, so we provide support for our players and families in this often stressful process. We have a college coordinator on staff with countless connections to college programs. We aim to connect players to college programs that suit their soccer ability and academic goals through our networking channels via regional and national showcases. We conduct an annual College Seminar for both players and parents to educate both on all areas of the recruiting process. This includes the roles of the players, the roles of the parents and the role of the club. Additionally, we hold an annual Junior Class internal showcase in the spring, where we invite 20-25 college coaches to evaluate and scout in a more intimate and controlled setting.
Q: Would you consider Match Fit Academy to be successful in college placement and the recruiting process? If so, why?
A: The reality is most of the players who graduate from our club attain college placement. We feel the true barometer for the club, and more importantly, the players, are to retain their placement and have successful college careers. We instill in the players the concepts of commitment, discipline, resilience and sacrifice which we feel are needed at the next level to secure your place, retain it and be able to contribute to the program. The college game is extremely competitive and players need to be educated on the intensity of competition on the field against opponents, as well as amongst teammates. We introduce methods and educate our players on healthy competition, earning your place and the overall atmosphere to best prepare players for the reality of the next level.
Q: What can colleges expect when a player from Match Fit decides to attend their school?
A: Overall colleges can expect a Match Fit Academy player to be disciplined, competent on the ball and a strong mentality for the game and all of the challenges it entails. They will have the distinct ability to remain disciplined on and off the pitch, committed to the task and the understanding of the sacrifices needed to achieve and win at that level. The players who graduate from our club will always subscribe to the team concepts and what is needed of them to ensure the team has success at the highest possible level offered.
The Boys ECNL wants to thank Chris Leahey for taking time to sit down and talk about their process and success in helping place players into college. We wish all of Match Fit Academy Class of 2018 and the rest of the Boys ECNL Class of 2018 all the best of luck in their future endeavors.
Click Here to view a full list of the Match Fit Academy Boys Alumni List.
About Boys Elite Clubs National League: Boys Elite Clubs National League (Boys ECNL) was founded to provide a top level, club-based development, training, and competition platform for youth male soccer players in the United States. The mission of the Boys ECNL is to improve the landscape for players in the United States through innovative, player-centered programming that raises standards of quality and improves the player experience in all aspects of the game.
The Boys ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer.