Yk Galaxy Soccer Academy has established itself as one of the two big clubs in town for the sport at the youth level.
It also has eyes on the future and part of that comes on the international side of things, namely Zimbabwe.
Yk Galaxy-Zimbabwe launched in late October as a sister academy alongside the one already running in Yellowknife. Dillon Torindo, the club’s director, returned to his birth nation to help get things off the ground with his father, Edward Torindo, who went back home after retiring two years ago. Edward Torindo is a very well-known former player in Zimbabwe who spent several years with CAPS United in the country’s top domestic league.
Dillon Torindo said the idea of starting something in Zimbabwe was something he and his father had wanted to do for some time.
“When my dad lived here, he would always get donations to take back home from Bill (Stirling) and that started in 2012,” he said. “Bill would give all the stuff we needed and we would give it to the kids back home. I grew up playing on those same fields so I wanted to give something back and provide for the kids who are there.”
The elder Torindo is running the operations in Zimbabwe as the technical director with several divisions taking part, added Dillon Torindo.
“We have U10, U12, U15 and U17 as well as a senior division for adults,” he said. “We added the adults to give more African players a chance to be part of a program and possibly get noticed.”
The launch of the Zimbabwe academy featured everything that a soccer academy needed to start, including jerseys and socks donated by the Aurora Minor Soccer League. Players in the Galaxy program here in town also kicked in their own donations with cleats, shoes and anything else they wanted to part with.
“I went back with three bags of full kits (uniforms),” said Dillon Torindo. “It was so great to have that support from the community and the kids were so excited to see it.”
Why so excited? Because a lot of them don’t have the luxury of playing with shoes on their feet or proper equipment, he added.
“A lot of them play with no shoes,” he said. “If you have a group of 20 kids, maybe three or four have sneakers. Not soccer cleats, just sneakers. When I brought the stuff to the field for the first time, you could see how happy the kids were. They didn’t care if it was used or belonged to someone else — it made no difference.”
As for the on-field instruction, the Zimbabwe academy will run the exact same as it does in Yellowknife with the same programming and the same philosophy with the hope that there may be an exchange in the future.
“One way or another, we’ll have both academies together either here or there,” said Torindo. “I want to have the U11 to U17 groups to take part, maybe the younger kids if we can do that. The kids in Zimbabwe are already playing other academies over there and I’m going back there next year to see how the set-up is going.”