This year has truly been a test for the sports world. The sudden stoppage was unprecedented in its own right, but the transition back would be a test of everyone’s ability to adapt--and Inter Miami’s youth players were no exception.
The Inter Miami CF Academy presented by Baptist Health executed a plan that helped over 120 local youth players make a safe return to play for its second season in 2020. Today, three months into the season, the Academy is competing against elite youth teams from around the nation in the hopes of achieving individual and group goals that help them progress through the Club’s youth development system.
“The U.S. Soccer Development Academy ceased operations this year so MLS came in and put a platform in for elite players in this country, so we currently have four teams with MLS NEXT as well as our U-12s playing locally,” said Darren Powell, Inter Miami CF Director of Player Development. “We are pretty much back to as normal a schedule as possible and we are grateful for that. The most important thing is maintaining high standards and keeping the intensity high among the group, while making sure that the players are very safe at our facilities.”
Similar to Inter Miami in MLS and Fort Lauderdale CF in USL League One, the return to play plan was executed in phases to maintain steady progression within the group. Phase 1 was initiated at the beginning of August, focusing on individual training and low-risk alternatives to the traditional group methods.
By the end of the first week of August, they progressed to Phase 2 and began small group training. Players were allowed to come into Inter Miami CF Training Center, which they share with the MLS and USL League One teams. The teams were, however, assigned to different rooms and time slots in order to adhere to the different regulations set forth by their respective leagues. This master-scheduling system allowed players to get back into a rhythm with their teammates, while still gaining the benefits of training under the same roof as the Club’s senior roster.
In just one month’s time, the Academy moved into Phase 3 with the re-introduction of full team training with a few adjustments, including mandatory masks except when participating in active drills and scrimmages, and daily temperature checks at the entrance to the training facility.
The Inter Miami Academy officially began playing its regular season schedule by mid-September and has since played over 50 matches collectively across six different teams in five different age groups this season. Each group has impressed with their commitment and progress, demonstrating team chemistry and solid performances on the field. In one of the most impressive wins of the season, Inter Miami’s U-15 team took on fellow MLS Academy Charlotte FC and beat them 8-1.
“Our players get to come in and understand the way we want to play at Inter Miami. The positions that they play are very similar across the age groups, but the exercises and the way the coaches explain things are age appropriate,” added Powell when asked about the unique opportunities Academy players have with the Club. “We want to make sure they play at the correct intensity, showing correct actions, correct behaviors. The coaching staff are encouraging players to do that every day at training and hopefully that reflects on the game on the weekends.”
You can follow our Academy’s journey online by following our Twitter account @InterMiamiAcad or via Instagram @InterMiamiCF_Academy.