FRISCO- The gates are open, you see them running from the locker room and crossing to the field. Groups of four or one by one they quickly begin to do drills as the morning warmth is visible to the eye. The clock hits 7:15am and by then everyone is on the field. FC Dallas Academy ranging from U-15’s through U-19’s has strengthened the uniqueness of the FC Dallas Academy through diversity.
“Diversification is a strength of ours, off the field socially and appreciating different cultures, different food, different music and different styles. So on the field it projects to also being diversified and the players adapt to each other," said Academy Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez.
FC Dallas Academy has been one of the most successful ones, goalkeeper Eduardo "Pollo" Cortes who signed this past year became the 20th homegrown to sign with the professional team and let us not forget that last year Jesus Ferreira with 15 years of age became the16th Homegrown to sign. A structure that stays the same, the love and passion for the sport of soccer carries on through out the years of playing in the academy.
For Chris Richards who joined the U-19’s FC Dallas Academy this past year and comes from Alabama integrating himself to the FC Dallas Academy has been an adjustment process but what truly sold him was the FC Dallas motto and the stats that prove how successful they have become over the past years. “I Believe” and “Busca la Forma” also known as find a way is the building foundation to the FC Dallas Academy.
“It’s very diverse, there’s people from all over South America and Africa as well. Me being from Alabama I don't know anybody here, so its been difficult but its been really good to get to know everyone,” said Richards. “We are all trying to get the National Championship and hopefully a contract on the way so we are all just bought in and we are brothers”.
Finding talent may seem easy for a team who has 20 homegrown players who have made it to the first team, a team that makes diversity seem so easy to grasp but the reality is another one. Let’s take an important factor into consideration meaning that in North Texas 45% of the Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW) population is made up by Hispanics making them a huge influence on the game. This might seem as a challenge when you want to have a diverse team overall but, for the FC Dallas Academy it has responded and done a great job in integrating a diverse group.
“I think the game of soccer is like that. It’s constant adapting and integrating and I think a lot of the clubs in the country and a lot of the cities in this country have these melting pots these different backgrounds, different cultures and different languages and we are one of them and we certainly embrace it” commented Gonzalez.
The ability to build a team regardless of the age group represents the FC Dallas academy a well representation of what the first team looks like. In the 2016-17 FC Dallas first team there was 10 different nationalities meanwhile in the FC Dallas Academy not considering age groups there have been 17 different nationalities.
The adjustment process of communicating can be a challenge for the younger age groups but the universal language of soccer allows the players to break that barrier and even learn new languages, characteristics and cultures.
“I’m learning a new language, it helps me on the field and off the field I appreciate different cultures, it's easier for me to speak spanish” said U-19 defender Brecc Evans.
At times different languages might be a challenge, every practice is explained in bilingual due to the majority of players speaking either english or spanish. Now integrating U-19 forward, Emmanuel Paga who comes from Ghana and his primary language is French players find ways to comunicate on and off the field.
“In the field I just point or say hey, after practice we all kinda talk about it,” said Evans.
One thing is for sure the FC Dallas Academy is still discovering talented players, all that is needed is a chance to be seen and an opportunity to prove themselves. There is definitely a role to be played in the assessment and evaluation of talent for NADM Soccer Club Vice President Nana Nyanteki bringing Emmanuel Paga and Seidu Muntari from Ghana and Togo, Africa is a stepping stone to making the FC Dallas Academy more diverse.
"They bring African, they bring strength is in their genes so soccer is a part of them" said Nyanteki.
"They just bring so much energy to the team, even when we are tired seeing them brings our energy back up and encourages us to keep moving," said Padilla.
There have been a total of 7 players from African descent in the FC Dallas Academy a team who has no barriers when it comes to diversity and has 17 different nationalities, proving that soccer is the universal language.