Elite Girl Players Barred From High School Teams Under New Academy Rules
High school soccer will soon be a thing of the past for America’s elite young female soccer players.
As expected, US Soccer has announced the formation of a Girls’ Development Academy Program, beginning in the fall of 2017.
Just in case there was any doubt, the statement made it clear that girls will play exclusively in the Academy “and will not play in any outside competition, such as ODP or high school.”
The move will play havoc with high school programs across the country and impact the everyday running of all of the top clubs for girls.
But U.S. soccer officials see the Academy as a vital initiative to stay ahead of the rest of the world in the girls’ game.
"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. From a program perspective, we will educate both players and coaches on position-specific roles, physical and psychosocial planning and preparation, current coaching methodologies and the use of sport science and technology.”
There will undoubtedly be much heated debate between now and fall 2017, but here, in a nutshell, is what US Soccer is planning.
- The program will feature 3 combined age groups: U-14/15, U-16/17 and U-18/19.
- Minimum of four training sessions a week.
- No high school play.
- Clubs will have to select teams with a balanced roster of players from the two distinct birth years.
- Coaches will be encouraged to play their best players “up” to older teams to accelerate development.
- Less matches but better quality. Teams will play only other academy teams, on the local, regional and national level.
- Zero tolerance for coaches poor behavior.
- International match rules; no re-entry, limited substitutions and proper rest and recovery periods.
- 10-month season from September through July
- Games will be scouted by U.S. Soccer and the program will serve as a pathway to U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams.
Clubs are being invited to begin applications from May this year to join the Academy program, based on the following criteria:
- Leadership of the club and quality of the coaching staff.
- Desire to embrace and promote the positive core values of the program.
- U.S. Soccer license levels of coaching staff.
- Infrastructure of the club and the resources currently being invested in development (facilities, scholarships, staff to player ratio, etc.).
- History of player production for Youth National Teams, the senior Women’s National Teams, and professional leagues
- Market and depth of the player pool, geographic location and travel implications, and proximity to other elite clubs.
The program is modeled after the Boys' Development Academy, which was launched in 2007 and now includes 152 clubs in five age groups.
U.S. Club soccer currently sanctions the Elite Clubs National League for girls that has 79 clubs nationwide playing at five levels. The future of this program, founded in 2009, now appears to be in jeopardy, although the issue has not yet been publicly addressed. The ECNL is structured so that players can also play for their respective high schools.
Any additional questions about the program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.