The Houston Dynamo believe strongly in the potential of the young soccer players throughout greater Houston. Houston’s large geographic size and population required logistical solutions that would allow for families of young, motivated players professional player development opportunities. For this reason, a unique program was developed called the Catalyst Foundation program.
The Catalyst Foundation program is focused exclusively on the ages U10, U11, U12. The program is a collaborative effort of the Houston Dynamo Academy, Dynamo Dash Youth and Total Football Club. In the model of other top professional academies around the world, the Catalyst Foundation has geographic training and development centers that help greatly reduce travel time for young families while providing a capacity for motivated and talented players to experience a professional development pathway. Each developmental campus utilizes the Dynamo Academy methodology with the goal of preparing individual players for the next and higher levels of the game.
Currently, there are five geographic development campus locations: North (Tomball, The Woodlands, and Humble), the Energy Corridor (Houston) and in the South (Pearland).
Technical oversight comes from the Dynamo Academy, which includes both player and staff development, combined trainings, and high-level events, all with the goal of embodying the Academy mantra to become a ‘culture of development.’
“We feel strongly about our methods of development, but we are also constantly striving to improve. The staff has been absolutely fantastic in their approach in how we want to implement and refine the program for the kids.” said Dynamo Academy Director, Paul Holocher. “These are very important years in the development of any young player. It is important that we put care and effort into our culture. As a staff we put a strong emphasis on both the technical and cognitive development. We want young players to learn and play the game confidently, intelligently and with spirit.
The Catalyst Foundation staff conduct monthly coach education meetings in an effort to refine and add to their Catalyst programming. One such program is the Skill Builders program, which is overseen by Dynamo Academy Skills Coach, Tanner Chassman. The program is designed to help inspire players to develop their technical skills and ball mastery, at home, through video tutorials on various skills of the month.
“The Skill Builders program is something we work on internally with our Academy players, but it is important to us that we share all of this with all the players throughout Houston. More is more. The more people we have participating in the program at home, the more we develop as individuals, as a Houston community and as a soccer nation.” said Chassman.
A reflection of the talent available in Houston was put to the test at the MLS Generation adidas Cup that was held in Atlanta in late November. Twenty- four players were selected from the various Catalyst Foundation campuses to prepare and compete in the U12 age-group versus an all MLS line-up of teams. The Dynamo Academy’s strong performances on this national platform were reflected in both their attractive style of play and positive results.
For Justin Neese, Foundation Director for the Dynamo Academy, the performance at the GA Cup offered a glimpse at how strong the player pool is in the greater Houston area.
“Our assessment at the end of the GA Cup was that we have as good, if not better players, in our Academy system than every other MLS team that we saw at the Generation Adidas Cup. We feel really positive about the strength of the player pool across greater Houston,” Neese said. “Now, the challenge is to take another step forward with the development of the Catalyst program and continue to work with the coaches, continue to work with all the players, so we can accelerate each of their development and push the program forward another step.”
A new Foundation campus will be coming to Katy which will open up the door for more young player to join the Catalyst program. For Dynamo Dash Youth-West Director, Radojica Ristic, the new campus will further strengthen the opportunities for motivated young players.
“It is a huge first step in creating a full development pathway in Katy and the west Houston area,” Ristic said. “We are looking forward to the Talent Identification Days to begin identifying a strong base for creating Dynamo Catalyst Foundation teams for Fall 2020. This will provide an opportunity for players in the community to experience the elite programming provided by our partners Houston Dynamo Academy.”
That next step will begin in February and March 2020 when the Catalyst Program hosts their Talent Identification Days at the various campus sites. For additional information, on the Catalyst Foundation program, visit HoustonDynamoAcademy.Net
Talent Identification Days: Dynamo- Catalyst Foundation
North Campus: The Woodlands - Gosling Sports Fields
West Campus: Katy - Memorial Hermann Sports Park
Dates: (North and West Campus)
2010 & 2011 - 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
2009 - 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
February 28 and March 27
2010 & 2011 - 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
2009 - 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Energy Corridor Campus: Houston - Pech Soccer Fields (1614 Pech Road, Houston)
South Campus: Pearland - Hickory Slough Sportsplex
Dates: (Energy Corridor and South Campus)
February 7th, February 28th, and March 27th
2011 - 6:00 pm to 7:10 pm
2010 & 2009 - 7:20 pm to 8.30 pm