Local soccer club selected to join Borussia Dortmund International Academy
photo by: Contributed graphic
When the news broke, Oumar Seck received countless texts from former players.
Jambars FC, a soccer club located in Lawrence, announced in May that it would be one of seven inaugural members of the BVB International Academy in the United States. The partnership is a direct extension of the Borussia Dortmund professional football club in Dortmund, Germany.
The club in Lawrence, which is the only one in the Midwest, will now operate as BVB International Academy – Great Plains. Tryouts will take place this weekend, and competition will begin in August.
“(My former players) were jealous in a good way, because this what they wanted,” said Seck, who is the CEO/Technical Director of the Great Plains academy. “This is what they know I have been fighting for.”
Seck and Joe Comparato created Jambars FC more than three years ago with the goal of enhancing the local soccer community. As a result, they really emphasized ways to introduce soccer to kids at the elementary level.
Comparato, who also coaches middle school soccer at Bishop Seabury, started researching ways to elevate the sport within the youngest age groups. During that process, Comparato was introduced to Peter Brody, who is now the CEO of BVB International Academy America.
Brody brought up the possibility of a partnership about 10 months ago, though the club wasn’t revealed until early in the spring. Jambars FC — which has many players from Free State, Lawrence High and Bishop Seabury — then went through the vetting process, and was ultimately selected in mid-April.
“In all these conversations, we felt like we were looking in a mirror,” said Comparato, who is the President/General Manager. “That is how similar the structures and philosophies were. We have absolutely seen a change in those players and families (since creating Jambars FC). We are just hoping to continue it and make it bigger.”
BVB International Academy – Great Plains will be an option for soccer players in the age groups between U8-U19. Lawrence is the headquarters for a region that includes Kansas and Nebraska along with parts of Iowa and Missouri. Players will train at the new Calcio Village, which is set to open this fall. The academy could have up to 500 players, Comparato said.
The goal is for the club to be the biggest at the youngest age groups (U8-U12) to give the most opportunities for those just getting into the sport. Past that, each age group will feature one competitive premier team and one academy team. The latter will have the opportunity to play in regional and national tournaments and showcases.
Matt McCune was recently selected as one of the coaches, and he will be involved with one of the younger teams. McCune is the head coach for both the Baldwin boys soccer and Lawrence High girls soccer programs. He said this was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“This club is going to be about the players,” McCune said. “Yes, it is a business and it is a brand. But they are all about the players, and that is pretty special.”
With the partnership, players will get more opportunities at all levels. Teams will wear full Borussia Dortmund Champions League replica jersey and full BVB/Puma kits. Seck will have monthly calls with other BVB International Academies across the United States as well as BVB in Germany.
The top academy coaches from Borussia Dortmund will be coming to Lawrence for a camp in July. At any point, the coaches could invite a player directly to their academy. It is the latest example of Borussia Dortmund’s increased interest in American players. Christian Pulisic is a midfielder for Borussia Dortmund and the United States national team.
“I want whatever club I belong with to be a place where hope is no longer just hope,” Seck said. “If a player has a dream to play on the United States national team someday, we want to provide every possibility for that player to achieve their dreams. We will do everything we can to make that happen.”
Tryouts for all teams will take place Saturday and Sunday at Champions Field on the University of Kansas campus at the corner of 19th Street and Ousdahl Road. Interested players are encouraged to register online at bvbinternationalacademy-greatplains.com, but walk-ups are welcome.
“We are excited for our area and our players,” Comparato said. “I have been involved with youth soccer in this community for 15 years, and I have always felt that we have had such an amazing group that has been overshadowed. I’m happy to try and create that type of opportunity for our community.”