Photo by Stuart Gradon/Total Soccer Project
Founded in 1972, Calgary Foothills FC has been integral for the development of soccer in Calgary.
Looking to the future, Owner Mike Mikuska has aspirations to see his top men’s and women’s teams play at the professional level in three years. However, the main aim at Foothills FC is to provide all of its players – no matter their age – a positive environment for better development.
“Foothills FC begins at the foundation of our Grassroots Program from Under-4 to U-10, focusing on skill development and the love of the game,” Mikuska said. “From U-12 to U-18, academy training, sports science and a commitment to character development is part two of the process. Ultimately by the addition of our U-23 men's and women's programs, we are opening the door to recognition and opportunity.
“The approach extends far beyond just sport but development of the character of youth and future leaders in whatever their pursuits are. We accommodate every level of player as this is the foundation of the pyramid of player development. We don't create teams at Foothills, we create a club where all members feel a belonging and a greater purpose. Success is the journey, not the result.”
Foothills FC began play in the PDL in 2015. While the team finished its inaugural regular season with a 3-2-7 record and missed out on the playoffs, Foothills FC currently sits atop the Northwest Division standings with four wins, one loss and one tie in 2016.
“I enjoy seeing the fruits of development being challenged at what is the highest level of competition that our club competes at,” Mikuska said. “The PDL is the most ‘professional’ development league in North America, and we are honored to be a part of the league.
“The PDL offers our club a pathway to pro soccer for young Canadian kids with dreams and aspirations. It also allows our club to bring high-level competitive men's soccer back to the diverse Calgary community of soccer supporters – a reason to celebrate the greatest game in the world.”
The club’s most well-known alum is Owen Hargreaves, who was born in Calgary and a part of Foothills FC during his youth. Hargreaves played a majority of his club career at Bayern Munich and Manchester United, and earned 42 caps on the England national team. Sam Adekugbe, who now plays for Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps, is a recent alum with potential to become a regular at the international stage with Canada.
Currently, Foothills FC is led by captain and defender Jonathan Wheeldon, who also serves as the Skills Academy Manager for the club. Midfielder Oluwatofarati Fakunle and defender Dominic Zator are two U-23 prospects to keep an eye on.
Mikuska believes the future is bright for the Calgary-based club, especially seeing the improvement at each level of the player pyramid within the club.
“I decided to become President of this club as it is a business on the verge of an epic journey in the business of sport,” Mikuska said. “I was drawn in by the integrity, passion, purpose and commitment of the technical staff and business leaders of the Foothills organization.
“We stand out because of the humble, hard-work characteristics of our staff, coaches and players. We have a '3D' [Desire, Determination and Dedication] approach to our journey and we ‘hunt together.’ Our goal is to be a model club for our city, province and country. We hope other aspiring Canadian clubs join our lead.”