(Newsfirst) The opening of a new soccer/football academy was announced by leaders from the Greece-based PAOK FC soccer club during a press conference held at the Hellenic Community Centre in Montreal on Monday November 4.
Based in Greece and the current champion, PAOK FC was represented by veteran PAOK FC footballers Kyriakos Alexandridis (Director of the academy’s programs) and Antonis Mavreas (Director of the academies for North America). Permission was received last summer from the team to run this challenging and important project.
At the press conference were present Metropolis Radio journalist-radio producer Demosthenes Vardakis, who came from Thessaloniki for the purpose, as did Vasilis Zagakos, a member of the technical team at PAOK Academies in Montreal.
PAOK has decided to launch its academies across North America from Quebec and, by extension, the cities of Montreal and Laval.
Welcomed far from home
Subsequently, Thessaloniki journalist at Metropolis Radio Demosthenes Vardakis spoke, emphasizing “the special emotion we all feel when you see Greeks almost 10,000 kilometers away from home hugging and welcoming you.”
Mr. Vardakis then read to the attendees the messages sent by the well-known Olympics and Vice Regional Governor of Central Macedonia responsible for Thessaloniki Ms. Voula Patoulidou, the Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Kostas Zervas and Mr. Paul Andronis, who is the owner of the Metromedia Group which owns Metropolis Radio.
In particular, Ms. Patoulidou referred to the “value of a sports academy, especially if behind it is a large club such as PAOK,” while emphasizing that “it is important for a Greek born to play in a club in his home country, because it’s like holding a boat tied up in its harbor.”
Opportunity for children
Mr. Zervas, among other things, referred to PAOK’s great successes in recent years and to even greater prospects being opened up at the Thessaloniki club, with the potential creation of the new Toumba stadium.
Mr. Andronis expressed his satisfaction with “the opportunity for children to get in touch with their sport, their favorite team and homeland” as well as for the support of the Metromedia Group in this endeavor. Then the team’s representatives, Antonis Mavreas and Kyriakos Alexandridis, spoke.
Mr. Mavreas stated at the beginning of his speech that “today we are here for your children, our children. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of Hellenism. We open the door not only to Greece but also to Europe for these children. We want to combine the good guys you have here, the great guys, in knowledge and in sports.”
To help the children
He then referred to the reason for their presence, emphasizing: “Today we are not here to get your… money. Because maybe some people think so. We are here to help these children and to help schools. Not for something else …”
Antonis Mavreas, after emphasizing that the academy is interested in all children and not just Greeks, knit the praise of both Pantelis Stefanidis, who is the businessman who will run the project, as well as PAOK President Ivan Savvidis, saying: “Mr. Stefanidis is PAOK-born and a Thessaloniki native. He is a man who has our absolute confidence.” Regarding Mr. Savvidis, he noted that “he is probably the best president to have passed through PAOK. With Ivan Savvidis, PAOK has gone beyond the Greek borders. At some point he’ll come to Montreal to meet him and see how great he is.”
Kyriakos Alexandridis spoke about the “right to dream of every child who has a talent in football,” while stressing that “what we are doing is not only for PAOK but for Hellenism in general. We came here to stay and not for… one or two days.”
He expressed the belief that people would support this effort, while saying that “we will be close to you in need. We will give the coaching expertise we need because we have some of the best academies in Greece in recent years. Whichever children choose to come to Thessaloniki, as long as hospitality is needed, all expenses will be with the group.”
An honor for the city
Vasilis Zagakos, one of the members of the coaching staff, was brief and specific, saying: “For me, being a football fan and a PAOK fan, it is a great honor to have this academy in our city. I would like to thank them. Alexandrides, Mavreas and Stefanidis for giving me the opportunity to be a member of the technical team. Thanks.”
The last speaker was Mr. Pantelis Stefanidis, who first of all thanked PAOK for the confidence they showed him “to start something big here, such as PAOK Football Academy.”
He spoke of the fact that “in six years Canada will host the World Cup and Montreal will be one of the participating cities. This means that football in Canada will definitely grow. This is an opportunity to work with you and the Greek schools, to bring Greek-speaking talents, and with PAOK know-how, to go to Greece, or move here to Montreal.”
Camp will be every summer
Concluding his speech, he noted that “the camp will be held every summer and with the selection of some talented children, we give a child the opportunity to fulfill his dream. So we expect people to support this venture.”
Before attending the academy, Mr. Stefanidis presented the authentic PAOK jerseys available for purchase in two sizes: one for children 7-10 years old and one for children 11-13 years old.
An authentic backpack with PAOK logo is also available. For more information and contact, visit www.paokmontreal.com.