Inter Academy MetroWest Boston provides true soccer training ground in Framingham

FRAMINGHAM – There is no wasted time here. The coaches are animated, and the children step to their high-volume instructions as they kick soccer balls around and between orange cones placed on the indoor turf field at Framingham’s Community and Cultural Center.

Time and progression is the idea here, with a taste of fun intended too. After all, these are just kids, 6, 7, 8 from the MetroWest surroundings. Might be their first time around the sport. Other kids might have been kicking a soccer ball since they took their first step. They do start them young these days.

Christian Saintima, 6, of Framingham, learns soccer under the watchful eye of Luigi Mainolfi, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. Mainolfi will be in Framingham for two weeks to train local Academy MetroWest Boston coaches and work with youth soccer players in MetroWest.

Christian Saintima, 6, of Framingham, learns soccer under the watchful eye of Luigi Mainolfi, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6 , 2022. Mainolfi will be in Framingham for two weeks to train local Academy MetroWest Boston coaches and work with youth soccer players in MetroWest.

There is an international feel to this program, soccer being the most popular sport in the world, and all that. At this locale, it goes by the handle Inter Academy MetroWest Boston, Framingham serving as one of the playing grounds. Luigi Mainolfi, 37, from Italy, and Juan Erazo, 30, from Colombia, two mad-for-soccer countries, have been running the show.

Mainolfi does this for a living, starting in 2010, promoting the sport all over the world under the auspices of FC Internazionale Milano. He’s set up in Framingham for now, games and practices and a summer camp on the horizon. Registration is ongoing, that’s for you soccer moms and dads to know.

Mainolfi’s hanging his hat in Natick these days. But not for long. Having done this in China, South America and throughout Europe, he rarely ever knows where his next landing will be.

Hugh Radhakrishnan, 6, of Natick kicks the ball during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston soccer practice at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. The practice was led by Luigi Mainolfi, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, and Inter Academy MetroWest Boston instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough.

Hugh Radhakrishnan, 6, of Natick kicks the ball during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston soccer practice at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. The practice was led by Luigi Mainolfi, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, and Inter Academy MetroWest Boston instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough.

The Framingham-based South Middlesex Opportunity Council – SMOC – is a player in this program. The summer camp starting in July will run for kindergartners to sixth graders. Cost per family will be determined by family need, according to SMOC director Greg Tutuny.

“SMOC’s mission is to improve the quality of life of the children and families we serve, and that has led to this exciting partnership with Inter Milan to bring an elite youth soccer program to players from economically diverse backgrounds,” stated SMOC president Susan Gentili. “We are proud to be able to offer approximately 40 percent of the players’ need-based scholarships.

Instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough works with a group of aspiring soccer players during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022.

Instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough works with a group of aspiring soccer players during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022.

“We believe that the Inter Milan experience will provide the participants with the lesson that with hard work and great teammates, they can achieve their goals on and off the soccer field.”

Marina Aboagye-Marfo brought her son, Myles, here. “I saw signs around Natick (where she lives) and didn’t know what it was. Then I saw something from Natick Moms Group on Facebook.” That convinced her to sign Myles up.

“We’re so happy to be with these people. I like how diverse it is. The parents are very interactive at the practices and games,” said Aboagye-Marfo. “I’ve told people in Natick and Framingham about it. They’re thinking of joining.”

As for her son, “Myles is learning a lot. He’s happy.”

Noah O'Brien, 7, of Natick, shoots on goal during a practice at the Inter Academy Metro West Boston at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. The practice was led by Luigi Mainolfi , a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, and Inter Academy MetroWest Boston instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough.

Noah O’Brien, 7, of Natick, shoots on goal during a practice at the Inter Academy Metro West Boston at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. The practice was led by Luigi Mainolfi, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy in Milan, Italy, and Inter Academy MetroWest Boston instructor Juan Erazo of Westborough.

Ludwig Duvilaire has two soccer-playing sons, Yohan (10) and Xavier (8). He’s already seen the boys play a lot of soccer. Ludwig’s thrilled they took it up. “The kids were home just eating cookies.”

Duvilaire grew up in Haiti, lived in Miami and Baltimore and settled in Framingham in 2018. Two boys playing soccer at the same time keeps Duvilaire dashing from field to field. Asked if he was an easygoing spectator or leaning towards fanatical, “in between,” he smiled.

Luigi Mainolfi, far right, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy affiliated with Futbol Club Internazionale Milano in Milan, Italy, works with a group of youth soccer players during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. Mainolfi will be in Framingham for two weeks to train local Academy MetroWest Boston coaches and work with youth soccer players in MetroWest.

Luigi Mainolfi, far right, a coach from an elite youth soccer academy affiliated with Futbol Club Internazionale Milano in Milan, Italy, works with a group of youth soccer players during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston practice at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022. Mainolfi will be in Framingham for two weeks to train local Academy MetroWest Boston coaches and work with youth soccer players in MetroWest.

Mainolfi and Erazo have lived the soccer life since they were little kids. Erazo, who lived in Westborough for a while, said “In Colombia, 99 percent of the kids play soccer. The one percent does something else.” Erazo never turned pro, but enhanced the experience by playing in Germany, and collegiately at the University of Northwestern Ohio.

Mainolfi was a mainstay in starting this program. His soccer globetrotting suits his lifestyle well. “My two passions are futbol and traveling. I spend about three months in each place. It’s the best job in the world.”

Ayla Braz-Calva, 6, of Framingham kicks the ball during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston soccer practice at SMOC's Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022.

Ayla Braz-Calva, 6, of Framingham kicks the ball during an Inter Academy Metro West Boston soccer practice at SMOC’s Community and Cultural Center in Framingham, April 6, 2022.

He plans on returning to hometown Milan for Easter where his girlfriend is expecting their second child.

First, some business to take care of in this new “country,” call it MetroWest. “The personal growth of the kids is our responsibility,” reasoned Mainolfi. A noble ideal for sure.

Lenny Megliola can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @lennymegs.

This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: Inter Academy MetroWest Boston a soccer training ground in Framingham

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