The Omaha Football Club has created a pipeline to the pros for its top players after agreeing to an affiliation with the Sporting Kansas City Academy and the Sporting Club Network of Kansas City.
OFC decided to join forces with Sporting Club, the parent organization of the Major League Soccer team in Kansas City, after about a year of studying the partnership.
“By affiliating with a professional soccer team, OFC is on a clear path to train its more talented, gifted players and help them compete at the next level,” said Ryan Kruse, the director of boys coaching.
OFC becomes the fifth club to affiliate with Sporting Kansas City, joining programs from Tulsa, Okla.; Topeka, Kan.; and Overland Park, Kan.; as well as Sporting Lincoln, which has been participating for just less than a year.
MLS teams across the country are signing up area clubs based on geographical location. Kruse said OFC will be the only club from the Omaha area.
The agreement provides many benefits to OFC, including access to the professional staff and special events and opportunities. When OFC teams go to Kansas City for tournaments, they will have special access to the pro players' locker rooms. Players could hear a speech from the head coach, and OFC coaches could sit in on private meetings and strategy sessions.
Pro coaches would also come to Omaha and run special education sessions for coaches and players, which would allow the club to start identifying and nurturing athletes who show special talent. Those standouts could also train with Sporting Kansas City's junior and senior teams.
“It's the inside track to get to the professional game,” Kruse said.
There is a cost associated with the partnership, but Kruse declined to reveal the amount.
The deal was signed late last week and is off and running, Kruse said. Most events will begin in August, the traditional start to the soccer year.
“We will now have the resources to develop players long-term, because that process can begin in grade school and continue on through high school and college,” said Alex Mason, OFC director of girls coaching.