CHICAGO, IL – Members of Olympiacos F.C. visited Chicago on Greek Independence Day Parade weekend to attend festivities and scout out the city in advance of their Guinness International soccer match against Liverpool F.C. this summer.
“The mere participation of our club in the International Champions Cup to be held in the United States of America next summer is a huge thing in its own right,” states the team’s official website olympiacos.org.
Competing in the U.S., Olympiacos will join some of the world’s top European football teams including Manchester United, Manchester City, and Real Madrid. A team delegation consisting of Olympiacos sports director Pierre Issa, and Olympiacos team manager Kuriakos Dourekas, visited Chicago and New York to prepare for the event’s organization and accommodation.
Former Olympiacos players Grigoris Georgatos and Antonios Nikopolidis, who served as goalkeeper on the Greek National Team when Greece won the Euro Cup in 2004, also visited the city, marching alongside members of Olympiacos Soccer School Chicago during the Parade.
Celebrating with Chicago’s Diaspora community, Dourekas and Issa participated in the raising of the Greek flag at Daley Plaza in commemoration of Greek Independence Day. The team continued their tour with the Olympiacos celebrities paying a visit to the Deerfield-based Hellenic American Academy, where they recounted their professional soccer experiences to some 200 students.
As guests of honor at the Independence Day gala held at the Chateau Ritz in Niles, the Olympiacos group promoted their upcoming match with a video presentation. At the event, Nikopolidis and Georgatos each handed over signed jerseys to His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, and Anna Housakos, this year’s Parade President.
The Olympiacos group visit was particularly exciting for the students and staff of the local soccer school chapter, co-founded in 2012 by John Kosmas.
“Olympiacos has always been the team I followed in Greece, and as I grew up in Chicago, one of the things I wanted to do was to provide training with the ability for kids to learn soccer the right way from a player development standpoint,” said Kosmas, director of operations at the school.
As Olympiacos’ first official U.S.-based program, Olympiacos Soccer School Chicago’s four coaches, including former National Team player Nikos Mirtsekis, currently instruct over 80 enrolled children on the basics and tricks of European football playing. Students adhere to the team’s guidelines and wear sport club uniforms. Olympiacos has academies in Greece, Cyprus, and Australia as well, while Chicago’s training facilities include The Odeum in Villa Park, Maine East High School in Niles, and Frontier Park in Naperville.
“We’re basically staying true to player development and that was a major reason we started,” Kosmas said. “Having the backing of a major European soccer team behind you adds to the experience of both the players and the staff,” he added.
Olympiacos F.C. will play against Liverpool F.C. at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 27th for the Guinness International Champions Cup. Tickets for the game are available online. For more information on Olympiacos F.C., visit olympiacos.org. For more information on the Olympiacos Soccer School in Chicago, visit olympiacoschicago.com.