Two former Crew players are laying plans for a return to Columbus. But instead of returning as players, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Gino Padula are going to be opening a youth academy out in the region.
“We have this idea maybe one, two years ago. We both had a very good time here, and we want to help the kids to improve their skills, their practice sessions…It’s a good chance for us to come to Columbus and open the academy,” former Crew defender Gino Padula told MLSsoccer.com in a phone interview.
Taking the name Schelotto Padula Soccer Academy, the first official announcement only came out last week, with plans to get things officially started over the next few months.
Tryouts are going to be held in May, and the academy will be for both girls and boys, ages 6 through 18. Schelotto will travel to Columbus at the end of June when he finishes his season playing for Gimnasia La Plata in Argentina, and training will start sometime at the beginning of the July.
[inline_node:323486]While there isn’t a size restriction on how many players they plan to take on, Padula expects the turnout to be very strong, considering how much interest they’ve seen in a little over a week’s time since first announcing it.
“We expect a lot of people,” he said. “We received many emails, phone calls. I hope we’re going to have a very big group of people to play.”
The plan is to run an academy in Columbus on a full-time basis, year-around, with a break for the holidays. In the winter, kids will train and play indoors.
Practices will be held twice a week, with games on weekends, similar to most youth soccer clubs around the country. Padula explained that they’d like to give kids the chance to play at various tournaments around the region.
Padula said that he and Schelotto would try and emulate some of the things they did while training as kids in Argentina, though he stressed the importance of players enjoying the game.
There will also be a serious side for the kids who are driven to become professionals and want to get exposure. Padula said they would hope to be able to open doors to professional clubs for those who are talented enough.
Whatever the case, it looks like Schelotto and Padula are ready to return to Columbus.