On the heels of an incredibly successful 2017 campaign that saw the club make a run to the PDL Championship match, the Thunder Bay Chill have announced a landmark partnership with English Premier League Club West Ham United F.C. through Global Image Sports, the North American partnership mechanism of West Ham United.
The partnership integrates the Chill into West Ham United’s North American academy system, giving local athletes a chance at global exposure within one of the world’s largest clubs as well as unique developmental opportunities.
“The news of the partnership between the Thunder Bay Chill and West Ham United via Global Image Sports is one that really shines a light on the developmental opportunities offered by the PDL,” said Chris Madden, Co-Director of the PDL. “Our league exists to provide athletes with the very best developmental platforms and to create a pathway to the professional ranks for our thousands of talented players. We are excited to see those goals pushed to new heights by partnerships such as this and look forward to seeing it put into action.”
Global Image Sports is West Ham United F.C.’s exclusive International Academy partner in North America. The partnership allows partner clubs the chance to access player and coaching development curriculum, visit West Ham United FC in London, as well as host coaching staff from West Ham at various points throughout the year to support all levels of the soccer pyramid – either through the provision of elite European coaching instruction or by supporting the coaching structure to benefit players with their own future ambitions in the game.
“West Ham United, in association with Global Image Sports, have been actively looking for strategic partnerships with top quality clubs allover North America,” said Joe Davis, North American Partnership Development Manager for West Ham United. “In late February, we reached out to Tony Colistro at Thunder Bay Chill and immediately knew that it was exactly the type of club we wanted to partner with. The Chill are a first class organization from the top-down and we are confident both sides will benefit greatly from the partnership. The primary goals are to create opportunities to aid in player development and coaching education by way of shared resources and events featuring West Ham United staff. The hope is to one day have a Chill player in the claret and sky blue of West Ham United!”
“We are very excited about this partnership as it will give our players an opportunity for higher exposure,” said Tony Colistro, Thunder Bay Chill Director of Soccer Operations. “We have already seen some of our youth players take full advantage of this opportunity with West Ham so we know that it is well-organized, providing true benefits to our club.”
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced USL Division III and Super Y League, the PDL has served as the proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals.
More than 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 66 alums chosen in 2018. Among the many players to have played in the PDL before making their professional debuts include Newcastle United FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and U.S. Men’s National Team members such as Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.