Girls Development Academy: What Parents Need to Know
As many as 50 to 75 top clubs from around the nation are expected to be accepted into the new Girls Development Academy that will be formally announced any day now by U.S. Soccer.
The women’s game is determined not to rest on its laurels following the 2015 World Cup triumph and the roll out of the girls DA is intended to guarantee an uninterrupted flow of elite players to the highest level.
But the move - planned to come to fruition next year - is certain to spark a heated debate over key questions such as how the current Elite Clubs National League will be impacted and whether the girls will follow the boys’ Development Academy in effectively barring its players from high school soccer.
The new DA will almost certainly relegate the 79-member ECNL to second tier status. Federation officials, well aware of the upset this will cause in some quarters, are sufficiently committed to the girls academy to press on regardless.
It will be run similarly to the boys, mirroring the infrastructure with a 10-month season with three age groups - Under-17/18, U-15/16 and U-13/14.
Leading clubs will already be readying their applications in a process that will start next month and run through to the summer. The requirements for coaching and facilities will undoubtedly be stringent.
Whether high school play will be allowed remains to be seen, but it seems very likely that the girls will also be told to opt out. According to Soccer Wire, the federation may wait to get the academy on its feet before enforcing the rule.