Sporting Kansas City announces Declan Jogi as new Academy Director

Sporting Kansas City has found its new Academy Director. Declan Jogi has been selected to rise to the helm of the academy and U-19 head coach. Former Sporting KC player and Kansas City native Christian Duke has also joined the academy as a U-13 and U-12 coach.

Jogi joined Sporting KC’s Academy in 2015 from Tennessee and quickly gained a reputation for excellence in player development. A Zimbabwean native, he played at King University in Tennessee and then played professionally with the Charlotte Eagles in the United Soccer League and with Acadia United and Dynamos FC in the Zimbabwe Premier League.

Former Academy director Jon Parry announced his retirement in May. Parry has served as Sporting KC’s Academy Director since 2008, overseeing tremendous growth of the Academy and youth football in Kansas City. With Parry retiring and Academy Coach Rumba Munthali moving to Nashville SC, there has definitely been a shortage of coaches at the Academy up until now.

Why Declan Jogi?

“Declan has been with us for seven years basically, I think he knows the club, the culture, all those things really well,” said manager and sporting director Peter Vermes. “I think he’s also seen a development within the academy and sees what the next steps are. I also think it’s very, very important to know the soccer landscape in the United States, especially at the youth level. We also had some foreign candidates with very good CVs and very good experience. Declan is very personable and well respected not only by the Academy staff but by all staff.”

It will be Jogi’s job to lead the academy into the future in an ever-changing and competitive landscape of youth football. “We spoke to a lot of different people, and I thought there were definitely some great candidates,” Vermes said. “We’ve spent a lot of time figuring out who we think is the person who’s likely to be the right fit for the next development, not just for our academy but also for some potential rule changes that are coming to market.”

One of the criticisms of the MLS academy system was the native territories that restrict movement from one academy program to another. MLS teams have regions and clubs with youth football strongholds have a distinct advantage. Sporting KC have had success finding players in areas where MLS teams have not existed, but sources are becoming increasingly difficult to find as MLS expands into good soccer areas.

These “possible rule changes” that Vermes mentioned were not announced, but were reported by Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio in The Athletic. Full details aren’t out, but it looks like teams will be allowed to protect 54 players (45 in their academy system and nine outside of it) in their “own territories.”

“We don’t have the dense population that all these other places have, so we don’t have as many kids playing the game,” Vermes told The Blue Testament. “You have so much more choice. If we also have more access to these types of players within our system, the level of all players will increase. The proverb: “A rising tide lifts all ships.” I don’t care how good a coach you are at the end of the day, what breeds development is competition and we always need more high-level competition in our teams. And I really think Declan will really help with that and also with the relationship with the second team.”

Christian Duke

Vermes easily explained why Duke was a good hire as an Academy coach. “First, let’s put aside for a second that he’s been playing here in the system for quite some time. I think he has a real passion for coaching and that’s what he wants to do. Everyone wants to do something, that doesn’t mean they’re good at it, but you can tell they’re good with the kids and always interested in learning. He has a humble manner and then you add that he’s been part of this system for a long time. He’s been on the first team, he’s been on the second team, he’s been a mentor to a lot of people, all those things are really helpful as we continue to build.”

With Duke on board, the staff have a sufficient number of coaches to cover all of their teams, but are still looking for another coach. SKC can take their time and make sure the coach is fit for the future.

Christian Duke plays for Sporting KC II
Thad Bell

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