Exclusive Interview by Michael Cross with Nicholas Karidis, President of Juventus Academy Saint Louis
Soccer, or calcio in Italian, is by far the most popular sport in Italy. The spirit of soccer remains strong and passionate and has contributed to the nation's collective memory and sense of identity. The Italian style of soccer is marked by its unique tactical and defensive approach. Up and down the peninsula, there are great teams with great fans. One team in particular, however, stands out: Juventus. Unlike most Italian teams, whose fans are concentrated around their particular city or region, the fan base of i Bianconeri is widespread throughout Italy and the Italian diaspora making the team a symbol of italianità. Today, I have the privilege of speaking with Nicholas Karidis, who quite literally brought Juventus to St Louis.
Nicholas, it is very exciting to have such a famous Italian team being represented in St Louis. What inspired you to open an academy here?
It is truly an honor to have been chosen by Juventus Football Club to represent their prestigious and global powerhouse organization. Through a long and vigorous application process, the Karidis Group International's youth soccer club was selected to represent the Midwest as an official youth academy of Juventus Football Club. KGI’s Juventus Academy Saint Louis (JASTL) became the 9th Juventus Academy in the United States, and the only academy in the Midwest.
The club’s initial history in St Louis, dating back to 2007, has always shown a strong foundation rooted in European football training platforms, so we are excited to see our club take it to an even higher level guided by Juventus Football Club. Joining the Juventus family has opened up vast resources and support from one of the most successful and decorated football clubs in the world. The philosophy at the heart of Juventus Football Club’s work with young players is parallel to how we have always run our club - helping to develop our players as people first, and second, as smart, creative and dynamic critical thinking footballers.
What programs and tournaments do you have in St Louis and where are they located? What age groups do you target?
Juventus Academy Saint Louis offers programs for all youth ages 3-19. Our programs include the following three levels:
We also host multiple leagues and tournaments throughout the year. Our main events are our tournaments. The Americas Cup is hosted by Juventus Academy Saint Louis in the Fall while the Juventus Academy Champions Cup is hosted in the Spring. These tournaments take place locally in St Charles. We are also famous for hosting multiple 3v3 indoor tournaments at our indoor facility, Olympia, located in St Charles. Our Winter Indoor League is also popular with the local clubs where we play 6v6 on our indoor turf space.
Tell us about the "Juventus Way". What does it mean and how do you implement it?
Building upon our philosophy, we aim to develop footballers through a vision which combines technical aspects with mental, emotional and interpersonal ones. The “Juventus Way” of training aims to develop players through the following five points: Style of Play, Technical, Tactical, Mental and Emotional/Social. The Juventus training platforms and vast player resources and opportunities, as well as coaching support and education directly from Juventus Football Club in Italy, will help propel our footballers to the next level.
What are you doing to increase diversity among your participants in St Louis?
We firmly believe that there is a strong link between diversity and high level organization performance. In order to increase diversity among our participants in St. Louis, we encourage all to come and experience our unique and tight knit family. Our coaches and volunteers are from around the globe and around the United States. They bring new insights and passions for the game that they share with our members. We support local businesses and communities through outreach programs, volunteering, and using their products or services. The diversity is growing in St. Louis and we always invite all to join and volunteer. We run our foundation on family and making the love for football available to all.
There are quite a few young Italian soccer players in St Louis who travel here to play college soccer. Are there any coaching or volunteer opportunities for these young men and women?
100% yes! We are always looking for volunteers and coaches. As we continue to sustainably grow our academy, we want passionate and qualified individuals to join our coaching staff. If anyone is interested in being a part of Juventus Academy Saint Louis, please reach out to our Academy Director, Corey Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.