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An Interview with the Mentor: Spotlight on the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association with Ian Diaz

May 1st, 2015

The FMYSA provides skills to give our youth confidence, in the game, and in life. "They learn ambition and how important this tool is to have in order to gain that success," said Ian Diaz, Technical Director of the FMYSA.

Story and photos by Dawn Booth

Played by 250 million players in over 200 countries around the globe, soccer has taken its shape in the Wood Buffalo region with the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association (FMYSA) for over three decades, under the umbrella of the Alberta Soccer Association (ASA).

According to the ASA, the played sport dates back to as “early as 1862 with references made by John McDougall of a game at Fort Edmonton Park.” Today, the local association has built an empire based on professionals of the league and they have been sharing their success by instilling it onto our youth.

FMYSA’s Technical Director Ian Diaz is among one of the association’s members who is striving to maintain the soccer talent in Fort McMurray, and he’s helped local competitive teams claim medals of gold and silver throughout the province.

Playing professionally with the Edmonton Drillers of the National Premier Soccer League and with the Canadian National Beach Soccer Team, Diaz holds a National B professional coaching license and Union of European Football Association B Pro License.

In 2001, Diaz started with the FMYSA to 2003, and rejoined in 2010 by coaching the Keyano College Women’s League. It was shortly after the season wrapped up, when he was approached to take on the youth programming.

Diaz is a mentor and takes the spotlight for this issue of Fort McMurray Child Magazine to answer questions on the game, the program and how it’s helping our youth:                                                                                                                    

How does the FMYSA benefit the children of the Fort McMurray community?

Ian Diaz:By providing children with an activity throughout the summer and winter, it teaches them some very important life lessons that they learn on the field and can take off the field. It exposes them to various places in Alberta, when they go and compete. And it shows them the “Wonderful World of Soccer” community within the province and Canada. The travelling opportunities, alone, can help them make lasting friendships and possibly end up moving them to these places to better their education and career in the future.

How does the soccer association plan the seasons for each year?

Ian Diaz:Aside from our planning meeting that’s held twice a year, about three months before each season’s kick off, we hold our AGM in October. The meetings help with the administration and budgeting for each season. As the technical director, I am in charge of submitting an annual plan to be reviewed by the ASA and our board. Of course, every season, we are continuously tweaking things for the betterment of the players, so they can have a more enjoyable experience.

Tell me more about how you spend your time preparing the association, as the technical director.

Ian Diaz:My time is very valuable. I spend it preparing coaching education material that’s delivered once a month to all of our Fury coaches. I also spend it organizing, preparing and running technical sessions for the players. I spend my time in professional development offered by ASA and the Canadian Soccer Association. Also, connecting with University Of Alberta Green and Gold program and FC Edmonton. And, I try to get our players scouted and work at getting them seen and identified, so that they can take part in various provincial teams.

What’s the cost to take part and how is it implemented into the programming?

Ian Diaz:The cost varies between our Mini Fury U4 to U8, Junior Fury U10 to U18 and Fury U10 to U18 programs (The prices can be found online at Beyond game time, they can receive two training sessions a week and an organized training session with quality coaches. This ensures that everyone gets good coaching, as well as, ensuring the development is consistent. The price they pay covers all of this and allows for us to get fields to play on throughout Fort McMurray.

What is the most rewarding feedback you have heard from players and their parents?

Ian Diaz:That they are registering their kids back next season. Also, I enjoy seeing a player in the newspaper, after they have signed with FC Edmonton or made a team in Edmonton or Calgary. And, just their smiles when they come back to train!

What are some life skills Fort McMurray youth gain from taking part?

Ian Diaz:They learn to be respectful with each other and the opponents. They learn teamwork and how to cooperate and work within a team environment. They learn humility, so that they can enjoy their success, but keep on aiming to be better. They learn effort and how important it is to bring that with you - no matter what the obstacles. They learn ambition and how important this tool is to have in order to gain that success. We explain to kids that these tools only work if they are assertive and confident in themselves. They have to have purpose in the things they do on the field and be positively habitual in the things they do in life.

Why is getting children involved in soccer important to you?

Ian Diaz: When children are growing up with the game, it doesn’t only show them the world, but teaches them about life lessons and it can shape them positively for their future. It has taken me from a young boy who was uncertain about the game, and has allowed me to share back my knowledge. I am still learning so much more each and every day. But it has also provided me with an education. We have FMYSA master coaches that have had educational scholarship due to soccer: Tiffany Fontaine, Elizabeth Hildebrandt, Alexandria Mah-Diaz, Cristhian Garces and Jay Mutala.

How do you encourage youth to continue playing soccer, year after year?

Ian Diaz:We encourage the players by providing them with a fun way to learn on the field and we interact with their parents off the field. We engage and show a genuine interest in each child in our program. Sometimes that just takes a handshake or a hello. But we try to get to everyone, as much as possible. We also do it with top-notch programming and by providing a competitive environment for our Fury players.

What can FMYSA participants look forward to in the future of the association?

Ian Diaz:They can look forward to development and involvement, not only in our competitive program, but in our provincial and national program. Assistance with scholarships to universities and colleges. They can look forward to the FMYSA bringing in top professional teams, players and coaches. Finally, they can expect to be taught to give back to the community when they have gone through their youth career. And to many, we wish them the best in college or adult soccer.

To learn more about the Fort McMurray Youth Soccer Association or to register your child in an upcoming season, or drop by its office located at the Syncrude Sports and Wellness Centre at 1303-9908 Penhorwood Street.

Each issue, Dawn Booth of Media Booth talks with the pros who are in-the-know with child-focused local community programs. If you’d like your organization or program featured in an upcoming issue of Fort McMurray Child Magazine or would like to share a suggestion, contact Dawn at

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