STATESBORO, Ga. – On Saturday, South Georgia Tormenta FC hosted 25 top Academy talents for the club’s inaugural Training Center Program ahead of the 2021 USL Academy league regular season. The program provided players with a chance to experience life as a pro on and off the field in a professionalized environment.
The group kicked off the day with official headshots before warming up for their first training session led by Tormenta FC’s USL Academy coaches, Nick Jaramillo and Jordan Melia. The session focused on technical abilities and small-sided games and was overseen by USL League One Head Coach Ian Cameron and first-team goalkeeper Pablo Jara.
“The facilities are ten times better than anything I’ve ever played on,” 15-year-old defender Ismail Nieves said following the training session at The Clubhouse Fields. “To be able to come out here at least once a month and get solid touches on the ball, the experience is unreal.
“I feel like the USL Academy provides an amazing opportunity for the pro pathway, and as we continue to grow as players, this is a good environment to do so.”
Off the field, the talents met with several faces from the club, including Sports Scientist Greg Ryan, who collected data to improve player performance in the future. Cameron spoke to the aspiring pros on getting to the next level, and the TFC communications staff held a social media crash course to teach the players about establishing and growing their personal brands.
“It’s an honor to be on these fields,” 17-year-old midfielder Nicko Morales said. “No one has the privilege to play on these fields, so it’s a great chance to show what we have.
“I feel like the intensity was always getting higher throughout the sessions, and no one has their place secured on the field, so every single training session we come out, we have to compete. It doesn’t matter what day it is, we have to compete day in and day out, and I think that’s what makes it competitive. The players that we have - it makes it challenging. That’s what makes it fun.”
After eating lunch with Co-Owners Darin and Netra Van Tassell, the players discussed strategy in their team meetings before taking the field for an afternoon 11-v-11 scrimmage. Split into two teams, TFC Blue and TFC White battled to a 2-2 draw with several impressive goals, including a bicycle kick from 16-year old Josh Elam and a brilliant run and finish from 15-year old Tyler Bisseck.
“What we do here at Tormenta is create challenging environments,” Jaramillo said. “So these training pools are just another opportunity to take some of these kids, who are maybe at the highest level in their age group, and give them another platform to help in their professional development and put them around other top-quality players in our Academy.”
Tormenta FC plans to hold additional Training Center Program events leading up to the 2021 USL Academy League season, with the next event scheduled for December. The club will announce additional details of its USL Academy team, including the official roster, exhibitions and more, in the coming months.
Tormenta FC was named a founding member of the USL Academy League’s Southeast Division in October. The inaugural season of Academy League play is due to kick off in spring 2021 and will provide clubs in all three of the USL's senior divisions (USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two) with an elite youth development and competition platform.
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Photo courtesy of Aaron Cranford // Terrell "TJ" Headman collects the ball during training at the inaugural TFC Training Center Program