The École Sportive Mundialito Canada (ESMCanada) was founded in 2009 following a meeting between co-founders Luis Timoteo and Simão Mateus Mendes. At the time, Timoteo was planning Canada’s first trip to the world famous Mundialito in Portugal, while Mendes had been an important part of Montreal’s soccer community. During that first meeting, Timoteo and Mendes exchanged ideas and created the École Sportive Mundialito Canada. Since then, the ambitious project has grown exponentially. Today, ESMCanada is a successful non-profit sports organization that gives young amateur soccer players the opportunity to compete at the world's top level. ESMCanada does this by sending teams of young players to play against professional soccer academies at the prestigious Mundialito, a FIFA-endorsed tournament currently held in Spain. In addition, ESMCanada organizes trips to Europe to give elite players the chance to try-out for professional soccer clubs and their soccer academies.
WORD FROM THE PRESIDENT:
In 1989, I moved to Canada with my family seeking a better life. Like most immigrants coming to Canada, there was a lot to absorb. From cold weather to the currency, everything was new. Even so, nothing had prepared me for Canada’s obsession with ice hockey! I was in love with a round spotted ball, not a little black puck!
Despite living in hockey-mad Montreal, I registered my son Wesley in the local community soccer association. Wesley had potential and I felt with the right coaching and approach he could achieve his dream of becoming of a professional soccer player.
However, the coaches here were poor, training sessions were bad and the local soccer association had almost no resources to promote and support players on their journey to the top.
It was truly a dilemma. I believe all children who love soccer deserve the opportunity to reach their potential. With the right coaching, proper physical and mental preparation and with access to international opportunities I believed we could make this happen.
In 2009, I decided to take action. After months of research, I discovered the Mundialito International Football Academyand eventually brought their training method to Montreal. My goal was not merely to give young soccer players a place to play, but to develop elite players who could compete at the highest level anywhere in the world.
I would also add, that the “Mundialito method” is much more than a system designed to produce top soccer players. It is a system that helps players to become better human beings. They learn leadership skills and the value of being a team player. And in some important cases, the academy itself provides a positive nurturing environment for youth living in impoverished communities.
Thanks to the support and trust of our coaches, volunteers, parents and players ESMCanada is experiencing exponential growth. Our players and their parents have faith in us and they believe we can make their talent shine. With this in mind, we continue to nurture their love and passion for the game.
Our children have talent. Our soccer school has resources. Together, we prepare them for the world!
TIMELINE - MUNDIALITO
ESMCanada co-founders Luis Timoteo and Simão Mateus Mendes combine the best players from Club Panellinios and Villeray Soccer Club to compete at the prestigious Mundialito soccer tournament. The annual tournament is held in Portugal and Spain. It was a thrill of a lifetime for the nine Canadian players who played against academy teams from soccer giants Sporting Clube de Portugal and Benfica. It was also the birth of the École Sportive Mundialito Canada (ESMCanada).
After a strict selection process, Timoteo and Mendes took some of the best players Laval has ever produced to the 2011 Mundialito. One of ESMCanada’s teams surprised tournament watchers by making it to the “C” semi-final.
A year to remember! In 2012, ESMCanada selected two teams to compete at the Mundialito; a group of 10-year-olds and a group of 12-year-olds. The 12-year-olds led by coach Luis Timoteo made fantastic progress, reaching the quarter-finals before being knocked out of the tournament by the renown Spartak Moscow soccer academy. However, the 10-year-olds made history becoming the first Canadian team ever to win their age group at the Mundialito. Twelve thousand people were on hand to hear the Canadian anthem as the U10’s edged Rio Sports Club of Brazil, 4-3, to win the “B” final. With the victory, ESMCanada had announced its arrival.
The goal in 2013 was to show that Canada could compete with anyone on the world stage. ESMCanada held a six-week selection camp to identify the best young talent in Quebec. From that camp, four teams were sent to Portugal. The 7-8-year-olds performed well reaching the “B” quarter-final. Unsurprisingly, our 9-10 year-old team was eliminated by a group from FC Barcelona’s famous La Masia soccer academy. ESMCanada’s 11-year-olds were eliminated by our own team of 12-year-olds who then went on to deliver one of the best ever performances at the Mundialito tournament. In a thrilling match, the U12’s won the “B” final, 4-3, against an affiliate of La Liga team Villarreal. The U12’s also finished as runners-up to a team representing soccer giant Benfica in a Passover tournament played in Lagos.
ESMCanada were no longer the upstart Canadians. We had finally captured the attention of Europe’s great soccer academies. In 2014, a total of seven teams made the journey to Europe and for the first time ESMCanada took a team of 5-year-olds. The 5 year-olds were beaten 3-2 by E.F. Faro in the “C” final after easily defeating an Atlético Madrid junior team in the semi-finals. ESMCanada also took a team of 7-8 year-olds for the second consecutive year and three high-calibre teams competed in the 9-10 year-old age group. One of the three teams of 9-10 year-olds won the ''C'' final and became champions. Finally, a team of 11-year-olds and a team of 12-year-olds also made the trip. The U11’s lost to Norway in the quarter-finals of the “B” event, while the U12’s lost on penalties to a team from Brazil in the “B” semi-finals. It was another strong showing by Canadian teams.
This was a difficult year for ESMCanada. Our organization lost a much admired member of our team when coach Artur Mendes passed away after losing his battle with cancer. We sent three teams to the Mundialito to honour his memory. Each of the teams performed well and several players were approached by a Portuguese first division club and asked to return to Portugal for further assessment.
ESMCanada sent 6 teams to the tournament in 2016. Five of the six teams made it to the quarter-final stage of the “B” category — a strong sign that Canadian players are improving and capable of competing with the world’s best. Our U12 team made it to the second round of the “A” category losing 2-1 to Angola in a very close match. Again, some players were approached by international recruiters and asked to stay an extra week in order for them to be further assessed.
Spain will host the 24th Mundialito world tournament in April. ESMCanada is sending 13 teams and more than 150 players! We are determined to bring home medals!