By 2002, the final youth team graduated to the men’s level leaving the Club facing the harsh reality of possibly having no youth teams for the first time in over 25 years. It was then that newly elected President Mark Vuksan and the rest of the committee decided that their first mandate should be to initiate the rebuilding of a lost youth program.
The thought was that Croatia Hamilton could strengthen the club through the grass roots level and give back what the “new-generation” committee were given when they were young – an opportunity to play soccer and create life-long friendships.
The Under-17 Boys of 2003 were the first team to be assembled. Their first coach was former ‘A’ Team player Mike Jurinčić and the original team was comprised of many 15 and 16 year-olds with the hope that they could grow together as a team for more than just one year.
More teams would follow, including the 2004 creation of an Under-12 Boys team, and an Under-18 Girls squad which started a year later.
This was the first Croatia Hamilton girls team since one coached by Joe Ribarić and Jerry Cugalj in the early 1990s.
As 2006 came to a close, another strong push was made to recruit future players that would lead this Club into the next generation.
With the formation of a new Multi-Jurisdictional league in Hamilton, ethnic clubs such as Croatia Hamilton were once again given the opportunity to grow and develop players from a young age. The start of the Under-8 and Under-10 boys took the total number of youth teams to five in 2007.
The unselfish desire of current, former, and returning members to help this Club grow and prosper has made the youth program a cornerstone for years to come. The optimism for the future is bright and the Club hopes to have many more boys and girls playing soccer under the name Croatia Hamilton.