La Liga picks Toronto as site of 1st youth academy in North America

La Liga has selected Toronto as the site for its first-ever North American academy with the goal of developing Canadian talent in time for the 2026 World Cup.

The academy will provide boys and girls between 4 and 18 years old the opportunity to learn from highly ranked coaches - and maybe one day play against the very best in Spain.

It will have three different locations across the Greater Toronto Area, including Downsview Park, Club Karlovac in Milton, and the Paramount Fine Foods Centre and Canlan Sportsplex in Mississauga.

"Canada is a country with great passion for soccer and through this partnership, we believe that youth soccer development will grow and excel," Boris Gartner, CEO for La Liga North America, said during a press conference in downtown Toronto.

"There is no shortage of talented young players in Canada and we look forward to working with them reaching their full potential using La Liga's highest standards."

All coaches at the academy will be UEFA Pro-certified, the highest distinction from European football's governing body.

La Liga hopes to prepare the next generation of players for the 2026 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Kids who excel in their developmental programs could be invited to a special summer training camp in Spain, where they'd have the privilege of playing against top La Liga clubs. Scouts will also be on hand to witness the development of Canadians across all age groups.

"At La Liga Academy, youth from across Canada will benefit from training by the strongest league in the world, at the same levels as that delivered at La Liga clubs in Spain, while providing top talent with a clear pathway to pro soccer careers or to pursue soccer scholarships at top universities in Canada and the U.S.," Gartner added.

"Ultimately, we are here to help advance and grow soccer in the nation, dedicating the finest professional coaches and operations to discover, develop, and retain the best talent in Canada."

La Liga also plans to open academies in other Canadian provinces.

La Liga picks Toronto as site of 1st youth academy in North America
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