CHICAGO, IL - The Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced a strategic partnership with Grand Rapids-based Rangers Soccer Club to form the Michigan Fire Juniors. The Michigan Fire Juniors become the eighth member of the Chicago Fire Juniors family and fourth club outside of the Chicagoland area. Since 2008, the Fire’s youth development program has grown from 400 to over 6,000 across seven states.
“Establishing a presence in Michigan is another important step for us,” said Chicago Fire Vice President of Soccer Operations Guillermo Petrei. “Our partnership expands the Fire brand and reach for talent in our region, while providing skilled players in West Michigan and an opportunity for further development and aspirations for our first team.”
The Chicago Fire Juniors program was formed to train area youth in a professionally run environment and has since expanded to include branches in Chicago, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and now a re-established presence in Michigan. Through the CFJ program, players from eight-years-old up to 18-years-old receive professionally developed curriculum to help build skill and knowledge of the game. The Juniors program has seen direct results, including the first team signings of Chicago Fire Juniors product Victor Pineda in 2010 and Mississippi Fire Juniors product Kellen Gulley in 2011.
“Our club has a reputation for developing players in West Michigan,” said Michigan Fire Juniors President Greg Besteman. “Our new relationship with the Fire will take this program to another level and will give our coaches the tools to teach and our players the technical skill needed to advance in the game.”