CFJ Louisiana Update

Klopas, development staff pay a visit

Back in April I wrote about the coming
together of three of New Orleans largest youth clubs
under the Chicago Fire
Juniors banner.  With Hurricane
Katrina serving as a catalyst, Lafreniere Soccer Club, the Carrollton Soccer
Association and Lakeview Soccer Clubs united together to form the Chicago Fire
Juniors-Louisiana.

With 3,000 kids now part of CJF-Louisiana, the club is the
largest Fire Juniors club out of the nine satellite programs strewn throughout
the United States.

Recently a delegation led by Chicago Fire Technical Director
Frank Klopas and Director of Player Development John Dorn went down to New
Orleans to check in on the progress made ahead of the club’s first season
together.

“Our recent visit to check in on CFJ-Louisiana last month was multi-faceted,”
said Director of Player Development John Dorn. “Having Frank come down with us
was a big part of the visit, as we wanted him there to build the connection in
relationships between their leadership and ours here in Chicago.”

Klopas was positive about his trip to visit CFJ both from
meeting those heading up the club as well as reinforcing the coaching and
scouting techniques the Fire have implemented with other satellite clubs.

“It was a good opportunity for us to see the facilities they
have and to get to know the board members and coaches that are involved as well
as go through the curriculum that we want them to follow.”

While there Fire Player Development Manager Brian Roberts
and Coordinator Mark Spooner led the club’s higher-ups through a strength based
coaching certification class and are planning to return next week to do the
same with 60 of the club’s staff coaches.

“We’re going to define success on the field,” said Roberts.
“The biggest thing for both sides is that we’re getting that true connection to
them and they’re getting more connected with us now that they’ve completed
their merger. They have a few months together under their belt and now we’re
expecting big things from them.”

Klopas echoed the sentiment, seeing the partnership as more
than just developing talent for the future.

“It’s a club with 3,000 kids and now it’s a Chicago Fire
club – so we’re casting a bigger net with the idea that you’re able to discover
kids that may one day play for the first team. If that happens that’s great, if
not we’re still giving every kid an opportunity to play and enjoy soccer – one
day when they get older, whether they fulfill their dreams of playing or just
love the sport, they can give back as coaches and hopefully become an extension
of our fan base outside of Chicago.”

The Fire Technical Director also didn’t rule out the
possibility of the first team making a preseason stop to visit their biggest
CFJ club.

“Louisiana is a warm-weather place with good facilities and
so it’d be an ideal spot for us to spend time in preseason.  In both Mississippi and Louisiana you
have kids out there wearing Fire jerseys everywhere. We had the game in
Mississippi this past year and I think in the future we’d like to have
preseason stops in both places.”

Get updates on the progress of the Chicago Fire
Juniors-Louisiana at
www.chicagofirejuniorslouisiana.com
.

Jeff Crandall is the Team
Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter
@JefeCrandall.