Sigma co-founder in charge at CPL’s Forge FC
Most Canadian Premier League head coaches have called the chance to build a team and a program from the ground up, a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
For Bobby Smyrniotis, it will be at least a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
After co-founding the Sigma FC program in Mississauga, the 39-year-old was named the the first technical director and head coach of Forge FC in Hamilton Monday.
Sigma FC was able to carve out a niche and produce a lot of talent in the GTA and now Smyrniotis is keen to build something enduring in the CPL.
“I think culture starts first from a club level. It’s not only just about a team, it’s about everything that comes into the environment — that’s the players, that’s the staff, that’s everyone involved in understanding that the club is something bigger. It’s an idea and it’s not just a team that gets on the field with 11 players,” Smyrniotis told the Forge FC website. “That’s what I’ve looked to build in the past and that’s what I think we’re going to look to build here at Forge. We want to build something that is ever-lasting. The largest clubs in the world, the most successful clubs in the world — not only on the field, but off the field — are more of an idea than just the soccer team itself.
“That’s what we want to build here, we want to build an identity that people know what Forge is about, what our culture is about, what our philosophy is about. That continues on with whichever coach is here, whichever manager is here and so on and it keeps tied in to the community.”
Smyrniotis (Smeer-neo-tiss) has guided Sigma FC to a second-place finish in League 1 Ontario this season with an 11-1-4 record as they continue to battle in the playoffs for a spot in the league final at the end of October.
He co-founded the academy when he was 26 and has also served the technical director and first-team head coach.
Sigma came to national attention as a number of their players had national-team breakthroughs despite being under-the-radar while still at Sigma. Cyle Larin, Manjrekar James and Kyle Bekker have each hit double-digits in senior national team caps, but didn’t earn a national youth team cap while playing at Sigma.
“Bobby and his team at Sigma have created one of the best soccer development institutions in North America.” said Forge FC co-founder Bob Young. “They have done it by developing talented Canadians from southern Ontario into outstanding national caliber soccer players, many of whom are now professionals playing here and in Europe.”
Smyniotis played at the College of Charleston in the NCAA and with York University in U Sports. After completing his schooling he spent two seasons working in the youth academy at Olympiacos in Greece before returning to Canada to launch Sigma.
He is currently completing his UEFA ‘A’ coaching license.
“I like all of the good things in the game of football, of soccer, attacking, pressing, possession-style of football. Those are the things we ask of our players day-in day-out,” Smyrniotis said. “One of the things that is most important for my teams is that we are able to dictate play whether we’re on the ball or off the ball with the different tactics that we’ll employ.”
Smyrniotis said a fluid 4-3-3 is his preferred formation, but he is also looking for tactical flexibility in his side. He noted that to some extent tactics are universal and he believes in developing his individual players to make a stronger whole. That has proven to be a successful formula at Sigma.
“The secret is making the player better,” he said. “Because making the player better will get more out of him. Giving that player that attention will get more out of him.”
Many of his high-profile former players were quick to congratulate “Coach Bobby” on twitter after his appointment.
Smyrniotis’ hiring wasn’t the only big news out of Hamilton on Monday.
After the league concluded their third open-trials in the Steel City, Forge FC announced that season tickets in their supporters section would be $199 (which is $13.27 per match) and would include home kit by Macron.
Macron, an Italian sportswear manufacturer out of Bologna, inked a long-term deal to outfit all of the CPL teams with kits and training gear last week.