Area youth soccer players will soon have a pipeline to professional-level coaching, clinics and resources through a new partnership of Chattanooga Football Club and North Georgia Soccer Academy.
The two organizations announced the partnership which Chattanooga FC managing director Jeremy Alumbagh hopes will help grow the game of soccer in the North Georgia area.
“We feel an obligation as the professional club in the area to help grow the game as much as possible,” Alumbagh said.
Chattanooga FC began play in 2009 and competes in the National Premier Soccer League, a league comprised of 94 teams from across the United States. The North Georgia Soccer Academy, which was formerly known as Correcaminos (Roadrunners) Futbol Academy, was founded by Kerem Daser, the former director of soccer at Dalton State College.
While getting the Dalton State soccer programs off the ground when the school added them prior to the 2015 season, Daser began holding soccer clinics through the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department, which eventually led him to help establish the academy in 2016, where he is now president and director of coaching.
The academy offers youth club teams across several different age groups as well as sessions with individual trainers. It’s headquartered in Dalton, but welcomes young soccer players from across the northern part of the state.
Under Daser's guidance, eight club teams have won state championships in Georgia Soccer, the state's branch of the United States Soccer Federation.
“I’m just excited to get this thing going, because obviously we’re a big soccer city,” Daser said.
That strong soccer base in Dalton, Alumbagh said, is what the soccer club aims to help nurture.
“Dalton is a place where soccer is important,” Alumbagh said. “There’s a lot of good players and a lot of passion, and for us, it’s about trying to continue that along.”
The partnership will help establish more regular communication between the coaches of the Chattanooga team and the academy. Chattanooga coaches will routinely hold clinics on various topics for players and coaches in the North Georgia Soccer Academy, and youth players will be given a chance to train with the professional athletes at the Chattanooga club without fear of affecting college eligibility.
“There are a lot of players in that area that have aspirations of moving on to playing in college, but we also want to help open up opportunities for kids to become coaches or referees,” Daser said. “We just want to help grow the game, and we know we have some opportunity to do that.”
Daser said that he hopes the partnership will also stir some interest in professional soccer within the academy’s ranks.
“It’s good to be able to drive 30 minutes and see all that excitement,” Daser said. “We’re going to try to promote their team and get our kids to go out and see some games.”