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Coming Soon: U.S. Soccer’s New Girls’ Development Academy!

us-soccerKeep an eye out next fall (2017) for the launch of U.S. Soccer’s new Girls’ Development Academy Program!

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy for boys in 2007 and has since grown the program to include 152 soccer clubs. U.S. Soccer refers to the Program as, “the elite player development model for the country and has significantly improved the everyday environment for players, coaches and clubs.”

The Girls’ Development Academy will mimic many of the existing principles starting in Fall 2017.

  • Clubs in the Girls’ Development Academy will play exclusively within the Academy program and will not play against any outside competition, including high school. These clubs will participate in local and regional matches, as well as regional and national events that follow international standards.
  • The Girls’ Development Academy will increase training requirements. Clubs will be expected to train a minimum of four times per week.
  • The program will include the following combined age groups: U-14/15, U-16/17, and U-18/19. Clubs will be required to form more balanced rosters of players from two distinct birth years.
  • Games will be scouted by U.S. Soccer and will serve as a pathway to U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams.

The launch of the new program has U.S. Soccer and NWSL working together to support player development and the long-term growth of professional soccer.

“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 April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director.

As details were released in regards to the Girls’ Development Academy, many wondered if U.S. Soccer would be collaborating with the Elite Clubs National League on the project. After a meeting between USSF officials and ECNL leaders, it has been announced that the Federation has decided to move forward without any outside assistance. reported that U.S. Soccer officials believe that they can do a “better and faster” job of developing female players alone. In an interview with ECNL’s Christian Lavers, Lavers stated that, “[U.S. Soccer’s] position was that they previously discussed collaborating with us, and had determined that they could improve the game and raise standards in the game faster and better without us.”

“This discussion shouldn’t be framed as an ECNL vs U.S. Soccer issue,” Lavers said. “That perspective doesn’t solve any challenges or improve the game. The ECNL’s desire was, and still is, to find a way to bring together unique resources from each organization to make an even better platform. If that is not a possibility or a shared desire at this time, then the ECNL will continue to fulfill its mission and keep working to improve development in female youth club soccer.”

The ECNL will continue to support youth national teams and the Women’s National Team going forward.

Similar to the the Boys’ Development Academy, the Girls’ seasons will be structured over a 10-month period and will be organized by divisions and conferences.

More information will be available in the coming months.

Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2006.