U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy Kicks Off
U.S. Soccer to stream Feature Match between Sky Blue – PDA and FC Virginia at 11 a.m. ET on Facebook.
Youth Soccer News: The U.S. Soccer Development Academy Girls’ side kicks off on September 2, 2017.
This is the inaugural season for the much anticipated U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy with more than 6,000 players from 69 youth soccer clubs fielding 276 teams across the nation starts this weekend — click here the schedule of Development Academy games
The goal — to accelerate the development of world-class female players — and U.S. Soccer’s effort is changing the landscape of youth soccer in American.
The Academy strives to develops world-class players by impacting everyday club environments across the country. The 69 youth soccer clubs were chosen based on a variety of factors, including club leadership, infrastructure, resources, history of player production for National Teams, market and depth of the player pool and more.
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Following a decade of focus on the Boys’ DA, the Girls’ DA launches this weekend with a total of 108 games kicking off, highlighted by the Girls’ Academy’s first feature match in Somerset, N.J. between Sky Blue – PDA (Somerset, N.J.) and FC Virginia (Chantilly, Va.) in the U-16/17 age group (2002/2001 birth years).
The game will be streamed live at 11 a.m. ET on the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook Page.
“In support of U.S. Soccer’s long-term plan for player and coach development, launching a Girls’ Development Academy is part of an unprecedented commitment to elevating the women’s game,” said U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director April Heinrichs.
“This program will directly impact the everyday environment for clubs and further connect players and coaches to our National Teams,” said Heinrichs.
The Girls’ DA is the highest level of girls’ youth soccer in the USA.
Its start represents the implementation of the Academy’s philosophy and standards for the most committed youth clubs across the country.
Academy clubs have an increased focus on training — minimum four training sessions per week — and play fewer total games in favor of more meaningful contests using international standards. The program prioritizes individual development ahead of winning team trophies and titles.
Teams compete in three conferences: West, Central, and East. The conferences are divided into geographic divisions of eight to 14 teams
Together, the Boys’ and Girls’ Academy programs include 197 unique clubs.
These youth soccer clubs will field teams across six age groups in the boy’s program: U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19 and four age groups in the girl’s program: U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19.
A U.S. Soccer player development initiative, the Academy provides direct access to the Federation’s resources. Clubs receive a wealth of support with coaching education, scholarship funding, Academy staff dedicated to serving clubs, and support from Academy Technical Advisors that reside and work in club markets.
The DA also provides a clear pathway to National Team programs.
More than 92 percent of players selected to Youth National Teams in the 2016-17 cycle came from Academy clubs, and 65 players from the most recent Women’s and Girls’ YNT roster call-ups will feature in the Academy this season.
“The U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy program will raise the standards and assure that the pathway for the most talented and dedicated female players exists and that we will be able to continue to compete with the elite players and teams in the world,” said Girls’ Academy Director Miriam Hickey.
“To achieve this, we must commit to a positive training and game environment at the club level to ensure the best players are playing together and not one talented player is overlooked,” said Hickey.
More according to U.S. Soccer:
A global leader in women’s soccer, U.S. Soccer’s implementation of the Girls’ Academy is part of the Federation’s efforts to grow the game and ensure that future National Teams continue to win at the highest level.
Several current and former Women’s National Team players are involved in the Academy to further this mission. Their experiences winning FIFA Women’s World Cups and Olympic gold medals will be invaluable in raising the standard for female youth players.
- Brandi Chastain – WNT legend is the executive director for California Thorns FC (Santa Clara, Calif.), head coach for the club’s U-19 team.
- Tobin Heath — Current WNT player will work with her club’s academy, serving as the Assistant Youth TechnicalDirector for Portland Thorns FC Academy.
- Lori Lindsey — The former Washington Spirit midfielder returns to her club home, will serve as the Spirit’s Virginia Strength and Conditioning Director and as an assistant coach.
- Jen Lalor — One of nine technical advisors that will support the Development Academy Clubs
- Justi Baumgardt — Will coach U-15 and U-16/U-17age groups at Crossfire Premier in Redmond, Washington. She has been with the club since 2008.
U.S. Soccer is launching the Girls’ Academy alongside the NWSL — Now in its fifth year, the league is the longest-tenured women’s professional league ever in the United States.
A total of 11 Girls’ Academy clubs are affiliated with NWSL teams, marking a major step forward in the league’s player development initiatives and the long-term growth of women’s professional soccer.
Four clubs from MLS have also created Girls’ programs and will join the Academy for the 2017-2018 season:
- New York City FC,
- LAFC (LAFC Slammers)
- San Jose Earthquakes
- LA Galaxy
For its first season, the Girls’ Academy will feature four age groups competing in seven divisions across the country.
A total of nine Technical Advisors have been appointed to the seven regions
- Morgan Church (Southeast Division)
- Katie Cole (Frontier Division)
- Diane Drake (Atlantic Division)
- Marguerite Ferrell -(Northeast Division)
- Jen Lalor (Southwest Division)
- Marieke Laurens-van Tienhoven (Southwest Division)
- Zahra Lechak (Northwest Division)
- Megan McCormick -(Northwest Division)
- Vicki Linton -(Mid-America Division)
In supporting the clubs, the nine TA’s will work to manage the talent identification networks in their regions, which consist of the U.S. Soccer scouting network who attend training, games, and Academy showcases to identify the next generation of elite players.
As the next step in the development pathway, they will provide scouting reports and player-specific data to the Director of Talent Identification and Youth National Team Staff.
Teams play consistently during a 10-month season from September to July, featuring Winter, Spring, and Summer Showcases and culminating in the Academy Championships.
Every Girls Academy team plays between 25 and 30 total games throughout the season, divided up by a Winter break and a Futsal period.
Besides US DA Games, the players will participate in the 2017/18 Girls’ DA Events
- Winter Showcase: Dec. 6-10 –Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
- Spring Showcase: April 6-10 –TBA
- Summer Showcase and Playoffs: June 25-July 1 –Del Mar/Oceanside, Calif
The teams that advance from the Summer Playoffs will play up to three additional games.
Photo: U.S. Soccer