FC Edmonton Academy striker Mahdi Hammoud is making an impression overseas after completing a trial with English Premier League-side Watford F.C.
The 14-year-old joined the FC Edmonton Academy program back in September after spending time with Vimy Ridge Academy and Juventus Soccer Club, where the majority of his development came from. Hammoud recently won a National Championship in November with Juventus, playing with senior players who were two years his elder.
“It was a good experience playing with the older kids,” Hammoud said. “They’re bigger, taller and faster, so it challenged me a lot. But I’m really proud we won [nationals]. The entire club worked hard for it.”
After impressing at the local level in Edmonton playing in the Edmonton Interdistrict Youth Soccer Association (EIYSA) and with the Academy, Hammoud was one of five players from the academy who went on to the represent Canada nationally at the U-15 level. He attended the camp with fellow academy teammates Isaiah Tekie, Ousmane Maheshe, and Ivan Hirankunda, and the experience has given Hammoud motivation to go further in his development.
“It was exciting to be called up and play with other kids from all over Canada,” Hammoud said. “The level of play was good and all the players were great. It was also nice working with the coaching staff, everyone was great over there.”
Watford initially scouted Hammoud when he visited England with his youth club, Juventus. After impressing the scouts, the striker was invited for a trial in September and impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a second trial. During his trial, Hammoud also impressed other scouts and now has attracted attention from the likes of Norwich City F.C.
“Being in an environment like that only helps you grow as a player and a person,” Hammoud said. “I played two matches with Watford, the intensity is higher and the pace of the game is a lot faster. [The experience] really motivated me to keep working hard.”
FC Edmonton Academy Technical Director Jeff Paulus believes Hammoud has all the tools to become a top-player at the senior level. According to Paulus, Hammoud is a striker with strong technical and physical abilities. He has a killer instinct in front of goal and also has an eye for a pass.
“He came into the academy with a good set of technical skills,” Paulus said. “We try to refine their habits a little bit and increase their speed of play, and he’s been able to adapt with no problem at all. He looks like he’s enjoying it and we certainly see a progression with him.”
The Eddies are continuing to develop their global brand and relationships with teams from Europe. After touring Scotland and establishing connections there, FC Edmonton travel to Manchester to face Stoke, Burnley, Newcastle and Wigan beginning last Thursday, Mar. 9. With players such as Hammoud getting attention from the likes of Watford and Norwich, the relationships with European based clubs are just getting stronger and Paulus feels that will only benefit the club.
“Those connections are important for us,” Paulus noted. “We obviously want to continue to create first team players for FC Edmonton and we also want them to progress to the highest level possible. As we’ve done with Shamit Shome signing in the MLS, we want to see the same thing happening with players going overseas. If we got players signing for professional academies not only in England, but in Europe as well, that would be the highlight of the program for me.”