The global pandemic continues to shift the landscape of club soccer in the United States. With cases surging again, many states are looking at more restrictive measures to help limit the spread including shutting down youth sports and parks. The pending closure is encouraging players and parents to look at creative solutions if they want to get back and stay on the field.
Montverde International Futbol Club, MIFC, is one of the options that players and parents are considering following the recent successes of the club especially on the women’s side. Robbie Aristodemo, the Director of MIFC, talked with TopDrawerSoccer about how the club is handling the current situation with shutdowns, recruiting talent to the club, and developing players for the international level.
“Fortunately, in Florida there has not been too many restrictions from a playing standpoint,” Aristodemo told TopDrawerSoccer in an email interview in November. “Of course, we have taken extra precautions with the sanitation and cleanliness protocols. Also, we are making sure that our players are wearing masks and staying safe. We have been very lucky in the fact that training is as per usual in our parts.”
The other benefit of being in Florida is the training year-round, which provides the MIFC coaches with more opportunities to work with the players, as well as some top level competition from local clubs and other residential programs.
Players and parents are taking notice on the quality in Florida, and Aristodemo said that Montverde Academy, which is a boarding school for grades 7-12, is experiencing an uptick in applicants.
“I think we are slowly starting to get more interest from states that have more restrictions,” Aristodemo said. “We are fortunate to be able to offer year-round training with beautiful climate on a gorgeous campus. Our area of the country is a wonderful place to be, not only is the weather conducive to year-round training but the student-athletes have an abundance of opportunity to further develop their craft.”
MIFC has a track record for developing talent that takes advantage of the unrivaled situation of year-round training and world-class facilities. From the college level to the international level, graduates from MIFC are leaving a mark on the women’s game.
“We have been blessed to have a great number of players over the past 10 years excel in the collegiate game,” Aristodemo said. “We have also had over 20 players represent their national teams including Denmark, Bulgaria, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Bermuda, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica to name a few.”
Aristodemo shed some light on what has made the club successful in developing talent over the last decade.
“I think a big part of our success in developing quality players is that we mimic what college teams do on the field and in the strength and conditioning department,” he said. “Our oldest players often strength train three days a week in the weight room, six days a week on the field. We have a futsal component, video component, and extra technical work daily. We feel with the preparation, the year-round training, and the comprehensive curriculum, our players go into college feeling prepared. From a mental and physical standpoint, our kids are ready to go. Certainly, for the international players, they already have a leg up, having been on their own for a few years; the transition to college is seamless.”
With the players enjoying success in college, there have been more inquiries into what MIFC is doing to prepare these players for that level.
“Success breeds curiosity, everyone wonders how we are so successful since we are a non-traditional program,” Aristodemo said. “We simply train a lot, train hard and have a well-rounded curriculum that challenges our kids every day.”
Over 40 players have already graduated from the program onto the college level, and now there are professional opportunities looming for current and recent graduates as more eyes take notice of the success from the club that is attached to the boarding school in Florida.
“We will continue to raise the bar,” Aristodemo said. “We are also starting to see some of our young ladies look for professional opportunities overseas as well, I’m sure that is something that will consistently be on the rise since the women’s games is growing at a staggering state.”