By Alexander Kitroeff
It has been a busy summer for Panathinaikos fans, and things may get even busier for the “greens” in the Philadelphia area with the prospect of a Panathinaikos youth soccer school being established. In Greece, hundreds of volunteers turned out to help the refurbishing of the Leoforos Alexandras stadium, the club’s home since the 1920s. The green soccer team will be using it again after several years of renting out the Olympic Stadium as its home field. Meanwhile, the membership of Panathinaikos Alliance the association of supporters that owns part of the Panathinaikos franchise shares has grown to 7,485 over the past weeks.
Further afield, the PAO Supporters Abroad an organization that raises funds for the amateur divisions of Panathinaikos (all sports with the exception of soccer and basketball) announced its fundraising campaign that ended August 15th had yielded $4,685.00 thanks to contributions from Panathinaikos fans all over the world.
Those exciting developments as well as Panathinaikos’ prospects in the upcoming soccer and basketball seasons will be on the minds of its friends in the greater Philadelphia area when they meet on Thursday August 29 at 8pm at Nova Grill in Villanova, PA. They will also consider the exciting possibility of the arrival of a Panathinaikos-sponsored youth soccer school based on others in the United States in Pennsylvania. Kostas Xinos, PANATHA Philadelphia’s treasurer will be reporting on conversations he has had with the U.S. board of Panathinaikos’ youth soccer schools network.
“PAO Soccer Schools” the official developmental academy of Panathinaikos, operates approximately 100 academies worldwide, including North American branches in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee and two more planned in Michigan and Ontario. Their purpose is to develop and scout players on an international, level with a direct path to Panathinaikos’ Athens-based academy. And locally, they benefit soccer leagues, soccer teams, clubs, and individual soccer players committed to training year-round, within an academy structure that follows the programs, guidelines, professional performance levels and expectations of Panathinaikos.
The ties that local PAO Schools maintain with the central Athens-based youth development academies of Panathinaikos mean that veteran players who are members of the organization’s international board visit regularly to do special coaching sessions. They include midfielder Giorgos Kapouranis and defender Giannis Kallitzakis. The establishment of a Philadelphia area-based school in the near future could mean local visits by these former stars. But more importantly, it would offer an important service to young soccer players and their parents who are in search of the type of coaching and training that would boost their skill levels and introduce them to top flight soccer practices.