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Hamilton United and Force Academy enter strategic partnership

By League1 Ontario staff, 01/30/24, 10:58AM EST

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The two neighbouring clubs have formed an alliance that will improve pathways and opportunities for players and staff.

Hamilton United women's players huddle

Toronto, ON – (January 30, 2024) – Hamilton United and Burlington Force are working together to improve development opportunities for the next generation of soccer players in Canada.

This partnership intends to provide more youth players at Burlington Force with a direct pathway to League1 Ontario, with Hamilton United set to play in the Men’s Premier and Women’s Championship next season, in addition to fielding teams in League2 and the Reserve League respectively. Coaches from both clubs have already been collaborating to enhance training sessions and player progression.

Hamilton have been playing in L1ON since 2018, first fielding a Women’s Premier Division team before expanding to the men’s league a year later. All L1ON teams will continue to take to the field as Hamilton United in 2024.

 The new relationship between Forge FC’s development club Hamilton United and neighbouring club Burlington Force – who provide soccer from U6 to U18 level – will open up connections across the soccer landscape; possibilities of sharing resources and providing opportunities from a child’s first soccer session to pursue their dream of one day playing at the highest level.

Sam Di Santo, President of Hamilton United, said: “It’s about reinforcing the player pathway. With Hamilton already having the structure in place, not only do we want to reinforce the player pool, but we also want to collaborate and share resources.

“It’s critical that we continue to grow the game and break down the barriers that exist in specific areas across the country. We need to develop players for national teams, the Canadian Premier League, and the future women’s professional league, and we want to strategically align ourselves with strong partners who will help and contribute towards that goal.”

Burlington Force boys players

Mihail Markovic, Force Academy President, said: “We are trying to build a sustainable program that is going to provide players with an opportunity to play at this level and beyond, and we see this as an opportunity – from both the coach and player perspectives – for these two like-minded organizations to associate together.

“We are very excited to be able to establish this partnership. It will help us, even from an organizational perspective, to set certain standards that align us with the standards that League1 Ontario has been implementing so far. This sends a very good message to our players that there is a pathway, and we are looking to develop them on a daily basis.”

Matthew Braithwaite, Managing Director of League1 Ontario, said: “We are very pleased that Hamilton United and Burlington Force are working together to improve player pathways.

“Through the partnership of the two clubs, the production of more homegrown talents will be prevalent, and Hamilton’s ambitions to field local players in League1 Ontario is also exciting for us as a league, and as Canadian soccer fans.”

Hamilton United men's player shielding the ball