Last weekend, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla touched the ball for the first time in an MLS game. The young Montreal Impact Academy product wasn’t the first to make his debut with the pro team, but every time a Homegrown Player does, he inspires the ones behind him to keep working hard to reach their goal: the top soccer league in North America.
It’s the case for players picked in the Pre-Academy at the age of seven after giving everything at the February tryouts. Those who are admitted into the youngest team at the club, the U8s, are seven or eight years old.
At this age, the kids are starry-eyed, watching the older ones on the pitch at Stade Saputo and at the Olympic Stadium. For brothers Ryan (U11) and Samy Sidane (U9), as well as for Owayss Rebbache (U8), their favourite player is without a doubt Ignacio Piatti. Beyond this, first-team players are an inspiration for the kids.
“I’ve been watching the Impact for a year and, when I will be older, I want to be an Impact player,” said Owayss. “I like Piatti a lot. I also like to run with the ball, dribble and shot.”
Amine Sid is in his second year at the Pre-Academy and will now join the U10 group.
“I was really excited at the beginning since I didn’t know anyone,” said Amine. “The coaches taught me a lot and I’m really happy to be back. I want to progress. My favourite player is Evan Bush because he’s a goalkeeper like me.”
The Montreal Impact Pre-Academy started in 2014 and some of its players are in their fourth year in this structure that represents the first step of the players’ development at the club.
It could thus be possible, in the near future, to see a player developed at the club making his MLS debut after joining the club first as a Pre-Academy player.