Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Fox Soccer Academy (FSA) is in its 6th year of operation and the opportunities to be enjoyed when joining this family are only growing. Founded by Christian Fuchs, FSA spans different countries, continents, and all the time zones in between. FSA has matured and evolved over the years to truly capture the fact that soccer is the “world’s game”... with roots well grounded in Christian Fuchs’ homeland of Austria, FSA has expanded into the United Kingdom as well as the United States during it’s half a decade of existence. Over this period of time, the mission of FSA has stayed true and the vision of the organization has been crystal clear: develop young players’ skills so they can excel on and off the field.
Much of the success we have experienced thus far as an organization is due to the hard work of many individuals, most notably, Mark Smith, who is our International Program Director across all FSA entities. Mark's work over the past four years has allowed us to put not only great trainings in place, but talented and competitive teams in the UK and has established the foundations for FSA PREMIER in the US. We've enjoyed tremendous growth in all of our countries under Mark's tutelage and he has been vital to what has been built in the United States. Working alongside Christian and now Michael Holzer, we feel Mark and our entire leadership group has and will establish FSA as a premier academy on an international scale for years to come.
We recently sat down with Mark and Michael to discuss how the organization has progressed. They explain how our sights are focused on developing youth athletes so the players can broaden their skills and endure careers they dream of.
Interview with Mark Smith - FSA International Program Director based in the United Kingdom
Please describe the maturation of FSA in the UK?
It is a pleasure to be part of the Fox Soccer Academy organization and to see it grow over the last half decade. We’ve been developing the skills of youth athletes through supplemental training, clinics, camps, and more. It is always wonderful when we see the players improve and build confidence. This sense of confidence is so important to us because it can translate on the training ground, in actual matches, and in everyday life. Two very important pieces of our operation in the UK are the FSA Elite program and FSA PRO. Each respectively, have become more sophisticated and have allowed us to develop hundreds of youth players.
Please elaborate on FSA Elite and FSA PRO and what they mean for not only the UK organization, but for FSA as a whole?
FSA Elite began as a premier center for 8 to 15 year olds looking to gain more training. Most of the kids who joined were playing on their own clubs already, but they were looking for a different experience, a more professional environment. We learned of this demand and we were able to then bridge the gap between grassroots football and academy football. This program is important because it has acted as our model across all FSA ventures in the different countries. Supplemental training and guidance is crucial to developing youth players' soccer abilities, knowledge, and their overall maturation.
As time progressed, we saw an opportunity to expand FSA Elite which led to the formation of FSA PRO two years ago. It is a government funded education program where boys ages 16-19 are provided top-class education as well as soccer instruction. It is a 2-year scholarship program based in Leicester at Aylestone Park Football Club. Every year, we recruit a number of lads to represent us in Cat. 1 and Cat. 2 which are the two most prestigious scholarship programs available in the UK.
These two programs are vital to the overall FSA organization and brand because they each have shown their value by allowing youth players to gain more experience and exposure. The players who choose to train with us are being challenged every day to get better and are receiving education they may not have had the opportunity to obtain otherwise.
Please elaborate on the scholarship program and what it provides the players?
Not only are the boys receiving an excellent education in the classroom, they are being provided premier football training and exposure through our program. We have several training sessions per week, play highly competitive matches, and join many elite tournaments so the boys can continue to improve their game and understand what it takes to make it at the next level. Ultimately, we are creating pathways into professional football for the young men.
We’ve had such great coaches and the players have been fantastic because in only our second year, we’ve achieved promotion and are now top of the league with the chance to become champions!
Please describe the overall culture of FSA and ultimately the connection between the USA and UK programs and the opportunities our players have when joining FSA?
Our culture and philosophy is one of utmost professionalism. We have developed a clear mentality that hard work, compassion, and teamwork will lead to big achievements. Obviously,
Christian brings a massive draw to FSA and FSA PRO. He’s instilled a work ethic into all of us and I have never seen or worked in an environment where a professional player cares and puts so much behind it.
I've worked with Christian to establish this culture and all the foundations that have been put into place in the UK as well as the USA over the past 4 years. Him and I work on a weekly basis to create our curriculums, ideas for improvement, and the general operations of the organization. I have such a deep connection with Christian and all the players that I've coached over the past few years and we want this culture of trust and passion to translate into our USA operations which I've worked very diligently to establish.
The connections and opportunities we are providing and are looking to continue to provide are so rare and unique. Having a Premier League Champion run and operate an academy across three countries is such a massive resource for these young players. For example, we took the UK FSA PRO team to the US last year and they ended up winning the EDP Showcase. We will be back this summer to face off against MLS Academy sides among other matches so to have such opportunities and provide venues for the young lads to get seen is what my job is all about.
Joining FSA will certainly open doors to anyone who is dedicated and aspires to becoming a collegiate footballer, professional footballer, or even having careers in related fields. We have the opportunities to send or take in young athletes who want to play overseas looking for professional contracts. We are also here to help them become coaches, athletic trainers and so on so they can fulfill whatever their sporting dreams may be.
Interview with Michael Holzer - FSA Program Director in the United States
Please describe your experience with FSA in the US?
It is a dream come true to be with Fox Soccer Academy. To develop this academy into something special and to help create two brand new clubs (FSA PRO and FSA PREMIER) from the ground up is extremely exciting. I am blessed to work within this organization, call Hudson Sports Complex my home venue, and to work with Christian Fuchs on a daily basis.
This position is one that I am very thankful for because I know how much potential we have to be a top academy across the entire country. We are not shy when it comes to our goals and we are definitely not reserved when it comes to providing elite opportunities for the players in our organization.
Explain the culture and philosophy and how that will translate into future success for FSA as a whole?
Our principles are to be as organized and professional as possible. This relates to all aspects of our club from everything behind the scenes with our clients, parents, and fans, but also on the training ground and during our games. The entire culture has been well-established by Christian and Mark so we are doing our best to take what has been built overseas and mirror it across our USA ventures.
We believe that if we are extremely organized and act in a professional manner, we will be able to put on highly-technical training sessions, play in highly regarded showcases, and continue to grow the brand which will ultimately lead to the development of our players and their future success. Starting with our youth players of FSA PREMIER and all the way up to FSA PRO, these philosophies are to be respected and accepted because we are a family working towards common goals. At the end of the day, our culture reflects who we strive to be and what we want to be is an organization that develops and creates bright futures for our players.
Please elaborate on the connections and the benefits of having an international football group and what that means for players across each organization?
Coming from Europe myself, I understand how important the connections are that we have available to us. It is important that there is a direct pathway to Europe and vice versa and that is exactly what we have established and will continue to establish. It is also important to have clinics, showcases, and combines which we will continue to do as we want our players to be to be seen by important decision makers.
We are all under one umbrella here at FSA which presents a massive opportunity for all. The international FSA PRO programs along with ours provide tremendous chances for the players to improve their careers and lives. Not only are our principles and culture a guiding light, but our entire organization has been designed to give youth players the opportunity to branch out and mature. If FSA PRO players from the UK want to play college ball or beyond here in the US, we can help them do so. If any of our players in the US have the goal of playing overseas, we can help them connect with the right people to do so. The relationships and opportunities we have are only growing stronger and it is through these resources that we will be able to help youth players fulfill their dreams.