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Minnesota Thunder's Novel Youth Development Plan

Minnesota Thunder's Novel Youth Development  Plan

Minnesota Thunder are one of the clubs that Burnley held talks with last week in the US and could possibly be a partner along similar lines to Stoke City and Austin Aztex as they seek to bring young talent over from the US.

We are therefore indebted to one of our US posters (uhclem) for bringing the following Thunder Press Release to our attention:

The full article can be found via this link:

Thunder Announce Revolutionary Youth Development System

We provide some of the key elements of the press release below:

Thunder Announce Revolutionary Youth Development System

The Minnesota Thunder Professional Soccer Team has taken a bold new step to help reshape the soccer landscape and make Minnesota a national innovator in soccer development. After seven months of extensive dialogue and collaborative research, the Thunder has combined two of the elite soccer clubs in Minnesota under the Thunder banner to add a new dimension to youth soccer in the state. With the inclusion of Bangu Tsunami FC and Wings SC, the Thunder Academy will begin with over 90 competitive teams forming one of the largest clubs in the Midwest. Together the two elite clubs have produced 39 State Cup Champions, 6 Regional Finalists, and 3 Regional Champions since 2002.

Coinciding with the inception of the Minnesota Thunder Academy (MTA), the Thunder will offer an Open Affiliate Program which is available to all soccer clubs. This program is designed to help Minnesota soccer youth organizations promote the sport in their community, by offering access to the Thunder`s growing network of resources, players, and coaches. "Since our inception in 1990 the Thunder has served as a soccer ambassador to the Minnesota community," comments Thunder owner Dean Johnson, "This new program is an extension of our overall cooperative vision."

The Minnesota Thunder Academy will be comprised of Regional Academies (North, South, East, West, and Urban) and the Minnesota Thunder Elite Academy.

Regional Academies are open to all interested players and will provide professional leadership for recreational and competitive players ages 4 to 19.

"The great thing about this collaboration is that these Regional Academies will embrace the structure and programming of both Bangu Tsunami FC and Wings SC, in addition to the youth development philosophy of the Minnesota Thunder," says team President Manny Lagos.

The Minnesota Thunder Elite Academy will be focused on the development of Minnesota`s top players. There will be two teams formed at each age group/gender from U13 to U19 with the goal of regional and national success.

"Our philosophy is to bring together talented players under the guidance of top-level coaches in order to help the players reach their full potential," states Thunder Technical Director Steve Bellis.

Including Thunder Regional Academies and the Thunder Elite Academy, over 1400 players will wear the Thunder badge beginning in the fall of 2008.

Modeling the structure on existing European and South American academies, the Minnesota Thunder Academy will provide a uniquely American path from youth to professional.

"I`m committed to adding more Minnesota players to the Thunder roster," states Thunder Head Coach Amos Magee,

"This youth initiative will help us identify and develop future Thunder and Lightning first team prospects."

The Thunder Academy`s innovative youth to pro structure, along with its history of successful soccer in the Midwest, has already sparked dialogue and interest from potential European partners.

These relationships are expected to include player and coach exchange as well as shared best practices.

The Thunder Academy will be a non-profit organization focused on providing soccer opportunities for all participants regardless of economic status.

"In the United States, many high potential athletes are prohibited from taking advantage of professional-level training due to financial restraints. A goal of the Thunder Academy is to provide cost reduction and eventual program cost elimination for all players through Thunder partnerships and sponsorships," adds Thunder Technical Director Mark Abboud.

The Thunder Academy is actively seeking out the most interested soccer players and coaches to participate in structured, year-round training within team contexts. Tryouts for U8-U11 players will be in July and for U12 and older players in August. Tryouts will be open to all interested players, regardless of previous club affiliation and led by Thunder Academy Directors, Thunder Academy professional staff members, and Thunder/Lightning players.

Full program details will be available by June 30, 2008, at the Thunder website,


We wait to see whether Minnesota Thunder are the club we do business with, but they seem proactive with some good ideas on youth development.

Barry Kilby, Brendan Flood, Paul Fletcher and Assistant Manager, Sandy Stewart were out in the US last week and presumably were made aware of Thunder's plans. We await to hear what they say about their visit and possible link up with Thunder.

Come into our Matchday Mayhem US forum to discuss these proposals and the implications they may have for Burnley FC

Matchday Mayhem US Forum Link

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Date:Thursday June 12 2008
Time: 8:11AM


Exciting stuff and one US club that mean business on the youth development side. cant wait to hear what Burnley FC make of it all
12/06/2008 08:19:00
I do wish the Club would make a statement. All the news is coming from the US side
12/06/2008 10:28:00
Monday !!
Bernie Lee
12/06/2008 10:58:00
12/06/2008 11:02:00
" I do wish the Club would make a statement " Monday !
Bernie Lee
12/06/2008 11:18:00
You saying they are making a statement this Monday or have made one last Monday? I dont like Mondays. Tell me ;-)
12/06/2008 11:22:00
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