STATEN ISLAND, NY — Ansi Agolli and Bledi Bardic, who own and operate Ab7 Soccer Academy, a school in Castleton Corners for teens and young adults ages 5 to 17, are shouting news about several youth taking part in trials with the New York Redbulls, NYCFE, an American professional football club, based in Hartford, Connecticut.
Bardic notes Klaidi Shaho, a student at St Patrick’s School, was called up for the Albania U-15 national team this summer and has played two games and trained with the team for 10 days.
Ab7 Soccer Academy Tryouts run in July and August for those wishing to be placed on a traveling team coached and coached by professional soccer players.
Summer camp is also scheduled for July 18, 20, 22, 25, 27 and 29 from 9am to 12pm at Fairview Soccer Field on Bricktown Way in Charleston.
“We are the only professional soccer players on Staten Island and we want to help the young generation of kids improve their skills and play soccer, which is actually the most played sport in the world,” says Bardic. “Because of our experience as a professional playing at the highest level, Ab7 Soccer Academy has reached out to players and teams around the world.”
Three players were recently sent to Spain for a two-week trial. And according to Bardic, the boys did extremely well.
Agolli and Bardic say they’ve been playing soccer since they learned to walk in their native Albania.
After years of practice, discipline and hard work, her lifelong dream came true. They made it to the big leagues and played pro ball, and their passion for the age-old game never waned.
Agolli, who hails from the impoverished streets of Tirana, the capital of Albania, in a quaint town called Diber, and Bljedi, who grew up in poverty-stricken Kraje, a small town in Montenegro, migrated hoping to build better can, to America from life for themselves and their families.
“We were poor in my town,” Bljedi explained. “We didn’t even have football boots and to have a football in Albania you have to be very lucky,” he said.
“But we have the love for the beautiful game of football and also the love of our families who have supported us every step of the way – even though they have always struggled due to the poor economic conditions in our country.”
They worked hard, were self-disciplined, and sacrificed themselves to climb the ladder of sporting success. But for them it was more than worth it for the one thing they loved most in life. And with the time they took, they managed to take that passion a step further.
“We’ve always had the idea of opening a football academy and one day we agreed to open an academy which we called AB7 Soccer, named after the first letters of our first names and the number 7, the number they both started on their journey as a professional footballer,” Bljedi said.
Agolli has competed in the Europa League and Champions League and has made 73 appearances as captain of the Albania national team. “AB7 Soccer Academy is the place where I can pass on all my experience to the young and talented players of this generation,” said Ansi. “The goal of AB7 is to develop the necessary skills and performance of players by providing a professional and safe environment, as many professional clubs around the world do, while promoting personal values on and off the pitch.”
Bardic is also a professional soccer player who currently plays for the New York Cosmos along with teammate Ansi. Earlier in his career in 2015, the forward was invited to Major League Soccer: New York City Football Club’s pre-season camp in Florida, where he coached and played alongside football stars like Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo.
In 2016, Bardic signed his first-ever professional contract with Puerto Rico FC. In 2018, he booked a bigger challenge for his career, putting pen to paper at New York Cosmos, where he was the top scorer in the 2018-2019 season.
“We work very hard to give the kids as much of our experience as possible and teach them how to play football properly – something we didn’t have,” explained Bljedi. “We also hope that we can do something for the Staten Island community and help raise the level of the kids by playing better football in a very friendly environment.”
AB7 Soccer Academy has many exclusive partnerships and affiliations with professional/international clubs through coach Agolli, the captain of the Albania national team, and his involvement in the soccer world. Through these connections, players in the AB7 Soccer Academy program have the opportunity to earn a trial invitation and train with such clubs at their training grounds across Europe and the world.
Visit ab7socceracademy for more information or call 347-990-5252 or 929-503-1788.