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FC Edmonton Academy to lead Team Alberta men into Canada Summer Games

14 Academy players will dress for Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games on Tuesday in the province's opening match against PEI.
Jamie Umbach (@JamieUmbach) | Aug 8, 2017

FC Edmonton academy technical director and assistant coach Jeff Paulus will have 14 of his players at his disposal on Tuesday, August 8 when the Team Alberta men kick off against Prince Edward Island in the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, MB. The game can be seen live at 6:00 PM MT on TSN and sportscanada.tv/canadagames.

After the FC Edmonton REX Program and the Alberta women wrapped up competition last week with a fourth-place finish, it’s the men’s turn to compete for the national spotlight with a team heavily influenced by Eddies' academy prospects. Alberta opens its tournament on Tuesday against PEI and Ontario on Wednesday, who always looks favourite to win the tournament.

“PEI is a well-organized and well-coached side with [head coach] Lewis Page and Ontario selects its team from over 700,000 kids,” Paulus said. “They’re always a favourite to win it, but we relish both games and like to play against a province like Ontario, who’s a traditional powerhouse. The beauty of Canada Summer Games is that every team can put together 11 starting players. We’ll get to play a good side no matter what.”

Paulus’ transition from FC Edmonton Academy technical director to Team Alberta head coach brings a shift in mindset as the team looks to put wins on the board and play for gold, but admits development never stops when working with players at this age. Competing on the national stage with academy players that he’s coached for a number of years brings a great sense of satisfaction to Paulus and justifies to the work being done in the Academy.

“It’s always great for me, whether it’s signing academy players to our first-team or having them go to the MLS or overseas. It’s why we do the academy,” Paulus added. “You want to get these players to the highest level you can and we want them to move on and do well out of our academies, so the fact that so many of them get to represent Alberta at the Canada Summer Games, that’s just another vindication of the work being done by the staff and the work the players are putting in everyday at training.”

Many of the Academy players have already played with one another both through the academy and Edmonton minor soccer, provided Team Alberta with a chemistry that’s already been building for years.

“We all grew up together, we’ve all played together and been in the same system for a while,” said FC Edmonton Academy forward Decklin Mahmi. “It’s chemistry that’s been building over the years and just having the opportunity to bring that all together on a higher stage with my teammates is an honour.”

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