source: Audi of America
- All-access series chronicles Sporting Kansas City’s MLS Academy
- Five-episode series features up-and-coming youth players as they train through pandemic setbacks and return to play
- Series debuts across Bleacher Report’s B/R Football channels Aug. 19
Audi, along with Major League Soccer today announced a five-part, all-access documentary series, “THE ACADEMY”, featuring Sporting Kansas City’s youth academy. The series, which debuts on Bleacher Report across its B/R Football channels at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 19, shines a spotlight on developing the next generation of soccer stars as they work to join the ranks of MLS professional athletes.
Featuring Sporting Kansas City and made possible by Audi, “THE ACADEMY” provides an all-access look at the commitments and sacrifices that young athletes make to become professional soccer players. Highlighting the youth talent development system used by every MLS youth Academy in North America, the five-part series gives fans a first-hand account of how MLS youth Academies and Audi are working to ensure the next generation of athletes is ready to compete at an elite level.
A program funded by Audi – Audi Goals Drive Progress—allows MLS Academies to support youth players by removing barriers that would otherwise impede success, such as limited access to transportation. These funds also support players’ educations to ensure their success off the field.
“Audi’s commitment to MLS has always focused on advancing the game of soccer in North America, so we thought it was important to put a personal face on that commitment by showcasing these young players and their experiences,” said Shawna Burtscher, director of Experiential Marketing, Audi of America. “We think of ‘THE ACADEMY’ as a much-needed source of inspiration to soccer fans everywhere.
The documentary series will provide a detailed look at tactical meetings, closed training sessions, and how Sporting Kansas City’s Academy managed the transition to remote and virtual trainings, as well as season delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the first look that any fans will have at one of the most respected soccer academies in the U.S. and a chance to catch a glimpse of who could be tomorrow’s greatest stars,” said Raphael Poplock, SVP of New Business Development, Bleacher Report. “We faced a unique challenge to create a very personal documentary from remote and social distanced settings during this period and think we have captured exceptional stories from the Sporting Kansas City’s Academy player’s journey.”
Prominent Sporting Kansas City personalities are featured in the episodes, including Sporting Kansas City Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, Academy coach Rumbani Munthali, Homegrown midfielder Gianluca Busio, along with Academy players Gage Akalu, Nati Clarke, Osvaldo Cisneros, and Jake Davis.
“The Sporting Kansas City Academy is a core part of our club, and receiving this tremendous support from Audi helps us with so much, including housing and transportation within our Academy,” said Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager & Sporting Director. “Our focus will continue to be placed on having a clear and productive pro-pathway from the Academy to the first team, and the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative helps us immensely in achieving that goal.”
As of April 2020, Audi has committed more than $1 million dollars to MLS Academies across North America, and the impact of this funding has been immediate – since March 2020, ten MLS Academy players who benefitted from the program have been signed to First team, Homegrown pro contracts.
“Audi’s progressive vision to support MLS Academies and foster elite player development is truly innovative,” said Todd Durbin, executive vice president of Competition & Player Relations, MLS. “Audi is positively impacting the next generation of soccer players through the ‘Audi Goals Drive Progress’ program. Their commitment advancing the game is elevating the level of the MLS club player development programs and bringing the best players to our fans.”
For more information on “THE ACADEMY”, visit BleacherReport.com and MLSsoccer.com. Join the conversation and excitement surrounding each episode by following @MLS, @SportingKC and @BleacherReport on social media.