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Friday, 11 November 2011

Suit Up! –Ashtone Morgan and Matt Stinson on the National Team

    Should Ashtone Morgan take the field for Canada in these next two qualifying matches, he will not just be carrying the banner for his nation, but also for the Toronto FC Academy.

    Morgan is not alone in having represented TFC on the national scene, there have been quite a few players to have done so, but he is the first – hopefully of many - academy graduates to do so. Fellow academy grad Matt Stinson, was to have joined him in the camp, but was unable to due to injury.

    Despite the fact that neither player can truly be considered as products of the academy, having only been polished and not formed by its embrace, they are nevertheless an encouraging sign.

    Toronto, along with Montreal and Vancouver, has been charged with the task of preparing the nation’s next generation of youth for life in the professional and international game. While their mission is not an official one, their role will be integral to this country’s development.

    The question is how important for the academy have these call-ups been.

    There is no better advertisement for the role of the academy than its players graduating to the first team and excelling, as both Morgan and Stinson have, not to mention the further development of players such as Doneil Henry, Nicholas Lindsay, Oscar Cordon, and Keith Makubuya.  

    This recognition on the national scene only furthers that message. Hard work, talent, and perseverance will be noticed and rewarded with opportunity.

    There has long been a disconnect between the youth level and the upper expression of the sport in Canada; that separation has prohibited potential talent from moving on, be it of the player’s own volition or the parent’s, who want more for their child than a dream to chase.

    Attainability of a concrete pathway has become more achievable with the growth of Morgan and Stinson from academy hopefuls to prospective internationals. The dream of settling for a scholarship could well be replaced with one of caps.

    That’s not to say that every dream will come to fruition, but the fact that it is possible through the academy to reach the first team and move on to the national squad will quell some of the fears of any parents who may be holding a gem back for fear their son would be wasting his time chasing a dream.

    A salivating prospect for Toronto and Canada; Vancouver and Montreal will surely follow suit, and the national team - and the domestic game as a whole - will be all the better for it.

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