Strikers FC’s Collin Canales Off TO Manchester City
Every dedicated youth soccer player dreams of getting the call from a professional club with the invitation to try out for the team. Few ever realize that dream, but for Strikers FC BU11 player Collin Canales it is happening in a big way. This Thanksgiving he and his family will be in Manchester, England, as Collin takes part in a special invitation-only training camp at the Manchester City Academy – the reward for hard work, determination and extraordinary talent.
Collin, along with several other impressive young players, were identified by Manchester City Academy coaches Mark Burton, Gareth Whalley and Danny Walker at the inaugural Pro-I.D. Camp in San Diego, Calif. The camp, organized by veteran coach and scout Jeff Illingworth, took place over the summer following the annual soccerloco Surf Cup. Some of the top players from the tournament were invited to stay and take part in the identification camp. The goal of the camp was in part to provide the Manchester City coaches an opportunity to evaluate the level of talent in Southern California.
Four of the boys who participated were offered all-expenses paid trips to the Manchester training camp. Another group of players, including Collin, were offered the chance to attend at their own expense. According to Collin’s father Curt Canales, there was no question of their son going – along with the rest of the family.
“We are all looking forward to this chance of a lifetime,” said the elder Canales. “The whole family will be traveling with him and will celebrate Thanksgiving in England.”
At the Pro-I.D. camp, players were introduced to the Manchester City philosophy of youth soccer where the focus is on developing “technically gifted, competitive, decision-making winners.” The player-centered focus matched well with Collin’s love of the game.
“Collin was very impressed with Coach Danny (Walker) and his constant instructions that opened his eyes to many things on the field,” Canales said. “He especially enjoyed the technical drills Danny would have them do because he feels that is one of his stronger abilities.”
“The Pro-ID camp was awesome,” agreed Collin, “because the coaches are very smart and the kids were very tough.”
While most of the boys were able to attend the entire training camp, Collin was only able to make the final two days because of school commitments. In spite of the short window of opportunity, he was able to impress the coaches with his skills and work ethic. That he was able to do this was no surprise to Adrian Martinez, his BU11 coach at Strikers FC.
“Collin is a very special young talent,” Martinez told SoccerNation News. “He understands the game at a very high level for his age and is wise beyond his years in his understanding of passing angles, combination play, and timing of runs. He works very hard every day in training and on his own, so it’s no surprise that his technique and skill level are so superior to most players his age.”
Soccer has been in Collin’s blood since before he began playing competitively at age five. He played for United FC for two years, at ages six and seven with Coach Josh Stringer, and later joined what was then Cosmos Academy West, now Chivas USA Academy. He spent about a year and a half there, playing under Coaches Marc Gomez and Teddy Chronopolous.
The combination of latent talent and quality training led to Collin’s next move. When his older brother’s BU9 coach at RSM Storm, English-born Jack Plummer, saw Collin practicing with boys from the team, he immediately knew there was something special about the lad. He extended the invitation to play up with the BU9 team, a chance the family jumped at. “Jack Plummer saw a lot of potential in Collin and gave him the opportunity to play at a higher level,” said Canales. “Jack will be visiting us in Manchester, too.”
Since the summer of 2012, Collin has played with Strikers FC under Coach Martinez. He first took the pitch as a striker, but this season has played more as an attacking center midfielder – similar to his favorite player, attacking midfielder Juan Mata of Chelsea (which happens to be his current favorite team).
Asked what he likes best about soccer, Collin told SoccerNation News, “I enjoy the game because it’s nonstop and you need to think fast.”
While Collin is an exceptional player, patience off the field may be more of a challenge. “After the ID camp, he would ask us for weeks if we had heard anything,” recalled Canales. “When Jeff (Illingworth) called with the news that Collin was invited to England we couldn’t wait to break the news to him. We were so happy for him and knew this was really important to him.”
Canales can’t help but smile when he remembers how the family finally broke the news to Collin. “He was in school at the time, so we had to wait until he arrived home. He walked in and we had a large cookie waiting with the words, ‘Congratulations! You’re going to Man City!’ It took a couple minutes for it to sink in and for him to realize it was definitely happening. We have never seen him with such a look of surprise and excitement.”
No matter the final outcome of Collin’s journey, he will have accomplished something that very few other American players ever will – a training camp with an English Premier League academy. Following the camp, which will run from November 21 through December 1, he will return with more than just the knowledge and experience of working with the Manchester City Academy coaches. He will have a new appreciation for the game, a better understanding of what it takes to succeed at a high level, and an awareness that comes from international travel.
“Strikers FC is very proud of Collin and his development over the last few years,” said Coach Martinez, “and we are very excited for him and wish him all the best on this wonderful experience.”
“Collin knows this is a big deal, so he’s already preparing for what will be his most memorable soccer experience,” said his father. “Coach Danny left a lasting impression on Collin and he can’t wait to see him at Manchester City Academy in November.”
“I am so happy I get to go to England and play in front of the Man City coaches again,” said Collin. “I hope I can see Coach Danny again and tell him thank you.”
SoccerNation News would like to congratulate Collin Canales and all of the other talented young players who will attend the Manchester City Academy Training Camp in November.