By Michael Lewis
Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs will be taking a break from the English Premier League for several days thanks to the FIFA international playing dates.
But that doesn’t mean he will be taking a break from the beautiful game.
On Sunday, he and his company, Fox Soccer Academy, will hold a free soccer clinic along with Street Soccer USA in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from 1-3 p.m. (Sunset Park is located at 44th Street and 6th Avenue).
For the former Austrian international, it is a natural partnership for two reasons. One, he was going to travel to New York anyway because that’s where his family lives. And two, it was an opportunity to give back to the game he loves.
His wife, Raluca Gold-Fuchs, attended a recent Street Soccer USA breakfast in New York City and was convinced what the Fox Soccer Academy had to do.
“It was a very quick decision,” Fuchs said. “She was very happily surprised by the program for Street Soccer USA and we said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ We love that they’re doing to bring kids away from the street and help them develop a love for the game of soccer. We are now holding our first training session together and hope this partnership evolves into something very good.”
Street Soccer USA works with underprivileged children in cities across America, including New York City.
“There is a lot of potential,” Fuchs said by telephone while he was on a train from Leicester to London earlier this week. “Last summer when we had our camps in New York, we also some kids [who] turned up from the street and they turned out to be really good footballers, very versatile and agile. Furthermore, we want to provide avenues to talent, avenues to some of the clubs in New York or the avenue of going straight to Europe. I don’t think too many clinics, especially in Manhattan, can offer that. I think that makes us special. Together with Street Soccer USA, from what I see from my our own experience there are a lot of children on the streets.”
The clinics will be simple and to the point, Fuchs said.
“The way we want to keep the first session — because it’s the start-up to hopefully a great future — is simply … to make it a fun day for the kids,” he said. “We want to teach some basics. Is it receiving the ball? Is it how you receive the ball? How your body is positioned is a very instrumental thing I do day-by -day on my job on the field, playing soccer.”
Fuchs, who flies home to the city to see his family as much as he can, will become a permanent resident next year after he retires.
“We planned the sessions that we’re holding right now. We’ve planned it all around the international breaks so I can be there in person,” Fuchs said. “That’s very important to me, to be there as much as possible. A year from now when I am having a constant presence in New York, then I want to extend my own program. I’m very excited what the future can bring with Street Soccer USA.”
Fuchs decided to form the FSA because he was disappointed his son was not getting much out of another academy in Manhattan.
“He was basically dancing … for a half an hour, not being shown throughout the training on what it takes, what’s really essential for his age group,” he said. “We said, ‘Ok we have the knowledge, we have the resources. Let’s do it.’ ”
In its first year, FSA had a one-week session on the city and the second year it had weekly clinics in Austria and England. The Academy’s goals have changed “because we are trying to develop the programs step by step, especially here in the UK because I think that every kid at some time wants to play in the UK.”
His goals include having players from the United States attending school and training in England and being scouted on a regular basis by English Premier League or Championship clubs.
Fuchs did not hide the fact that his Academy’s presence at Sunday’s clinic also will help it get a higher profile in the city.
“We want to help with our own academy to grow football … in the New York area,” he said. “There are already loads of football training. With the knowledge we have on the English Premier League model, we can offer a little bit more. My coaches are trained Premier League coaches.”