Freedom to Dream, as the Club motto states, is what fuels every Inter Miami CF Academy player when they put on their gear and head out to practice, or step onto the pitch ready to tear it up in a match, dreaming of one day doing so donning the First Team’s kit. That was the case for Key Biscayne native Benjamin Cremaschi and Little Havana-raised David Ruiz not long ago, who are the most recent of six Academy products to earn First Team contracts, and have been making strides with Inter Miami in MLS over the past weeks. Cremaschi has registered five appearances, including his first MLS start, and an assist, while Ruiz has made three appearances to date in the 2023 MLS regular season.
Following the positive impact they’ve had on the team in their start to life in MLS, Cremaschi - who featured for Academy Key Partner Clubs Key Biscayne Soccer Club and Weston FC in his youth career prior to joining Inter Miami - and Ruiz - who played for Miami United Stars academy for seven years before joining the Inter Miami Academy - reflected upon how the development pathway in place at the Club helped them to be ready to seize their opportunity with the First Team.
“Coming through the Academy and passing through Inter Miami II is a huge advantage because you know the system, you learn the system and you’re around a professional environment that at the end of the day teaches you a lot of things that maybe wouldn’t be available playing somewhere else,” said Cremaschi. “Because of the Academy and the Second Team, I had the possibility of making the jump to the First Team and doing it well.”
“The way they help us in every aspect of what a professional player’s life is like is very important and helps you grow and do things right at every stage. From when you arrive at the Academy, they help you improve tactically, fútbol is faster, and everything is to get you ready for the next level. Those are things that helped me when I made the jump to the Second Team and now the First Team,” expressed Ruiz.
Current Inter Miami assistant coach and Director of Player Development Darren Powell, who managed both midfielders with Inter Miami II in the 2022 season, highlighted how the Club’s development pathway helped them transition and adapt properly to each level of competition.
“Both players [Benja and David] are good products of the Club’s integrated system from the Academy to Inter Miami II and the First Team. The development of both players as midfielders was really good, in terms of the competitiveness and understanding of what it was going to take to be a professional. They embraced the work that was needed and were able to adapt to the speed of play and game understanding that constantly increases because from each level to another the quickness of play and of thought have to get better,” explained Powell. “The goal in our development pathway is to make the transitional steps between levels as small and seamless as possible, and both players have been ready when each opportunity has arisen.”
Javi Morales, who managed both Cremaschi and Ruiz with the Academy’s U-17 side and currently works alongside them daily as one the First Team assistant coaches, then dove into how exposure to high-levels of competition has benefited the duo's development.
“I believe the Club’s development platform has helped them a lot. Both David and Benja came into the Academy at a good stage in their careers when they started to compete with the U-15 and U-17 sides, competing in playoffs, in the Generation adidas Cup against international teams, and additionally, both have been called up by national teams. All those experiences they have throughout their career means that when they reach the first team environment, they’ve already gone through situations of having pressure, having to win, of having to compete. I have no doubts that both David and Benja are ready to compete and take advantage of this opportunity with the First Team thanks to the experiences they’ve had in different stages with Inter Miami,” he detailed.
“To all this, we must add that they are South Florida boys, so when they put on the Inter Miami jersey, the team from the city where they were born and grew up in, they defend these colors like no other,” added Morales.
Lastly, both Cremaschi and Ruiz spoke about their positive transition into the First Team environment, having the backing of the staff and what lies ahead.
“Phil [Neville] has been really good at communicating with me and the other young guys in the team. He has told us that we’re important players for the team and that he believes in us and trusts us, which gives us confidence as young players as we have the opportunity to play an important role and help the team even if we’re young,” commented Cremaschi.
“The adaptation to the First Team has been good because it's a great group. It’s a group of players that helps the young players coming up and try to give us advice about good practices or just things they would've liked for someone to teach them about when they were my age,” said Ruiz.
“We have the trust of the team and the staff, and now it's to us to compete and perform well to help the team,” concluded Ruiz.