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Working For El Paso: A Conversation with El Paso Locomotive Academy Director Ivan Militar

By EP Locomotive FC , 05/31/23, 1:30PM MDT


EL PASO, Texas – With the 2023 USL Academy League season just around the corner, new doors will begin to open for players at the El Paso Locomotive Academy and it is up to Ivan Militar to maximize the potential for these players.

Militar arrived in El Paso last June to take over as Locomotive’s Academy Director and U-20 USL Academy Head Coach, building upon a foundation that had just begun to be laid out. Since then, Militar and the Academy have begun paving the way for local players to find success in professional and collegiate levels.

“For me, the most important aspect for the Academy is to create opportunities for the people of El Paso,” Militar said. “My mission is to represent the people here. From the day I arrived until the day I leave, I work for the families of El Paso.”

Previously at Richmond United and Barca Residency Academy, where he worked with notable players such as former Locomotive star Diego Luna and current defender Miles Lyons, Militar came to El Paso to work directly with the large pool of soccer talent found across the Borderland region.

The Hungarian native set in place three pillars for the Academy to stand by when he took over. Working for the local community is one of them. Another is comprised of four key performance indicators for the Academy to strive towards:

  • Be a nationally respected organization
  • Attract the best talent in El Paso
  • Open doors to college opportunities
  • Create professional players

So far, Militar and the Academy have managed to organize a full competitive schedule for teams to compete year-round, which includes playing against top competition across three different leagues: the local El Paso Premier League, the USL Academy League and the US Youth Soccer National League Elite 64, a league made up of some of the top youth teams in the nation.

Militar has also overseen the Academy’s success at several major international and national tournaments and showcases, including Dallas Cup, Ford Copita Alianza and US Youth Soccer National League Elite 64 Showcases.

The Academy has graduated more than a dozen local homegrown players and sent them on to play soccer across different levels in the intercollegiate soccer world, from NJCAA all the way up to NCAA Division I. Having brought in College Recruiting Coordinator Alex Pozo to his staff earlier this year, Militar is expecting to see growth in the number of Academy players going on to play college soccer each year.

What about the final pillar? For Militar, it was important that the Academy acknowledge the past and current work done by local clubs and high schools for providing strong soccer foundations early on. One of Militar’s ambitions as Academy Director is to increase collaboration between the organizations to better support young players in pursuit of taking things up another level.

“The work Locomotive does would not be possible without the fantastic work being done by high schools and local youth clubs,” he said. “Our young players begin at these clubs and when we work with them, players understand that their destination in El Paso, to take that next big step, is with Locomotive.”

During Militar’s one year tenure, more than a dozen Academy players continued their academic and athletic careers on the collegiate levels, and two Academy players have signed a professional contract with El Paso Locomotive FC. Also, this season, current Academy player Finnley O’Brien made his debut in a U.S. Open Cup match, while Marton Demko made his international debut in Hungary’s U17 team in the 2023 European Championship against Ireland.

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