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Grassroots Development Academy Will Provide Improved Soccer Environment for Thousands of Players, Coaches & Referees from

CHICAGO (June 4, 2007) – In a move designed to improve the
development environment for players throughout the country,
the U.S. Soccer Federation has taken the initiative in formalizing a nationwide development academy slated to begin in the fall of 2007.
The U.S. Soccer Development Academy will begin with up to 80 elite
youth soccer clubs from around the country being selected to join
the program.

Created to provide players with the best possible opportunity
to develop, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy is being initiated
after a comprehensive review of player development systems in the
United States and around the world.

Each Development Academy club will not only serve as a home for
many of the nation’s top players, but also as a destination point
within their community for shared learning and experience.
One of the major advantages of the program will have players
receiving integrated oversight from both youth club coaches and
U.S. Soccer coaches, while training in their home environment.
In turn, the Development Academy will provide an improved
scouting environment for college, professional and U.S. National
Team coaches.

“After completing an extensive review and discussion across the
country, we feel that it is the right time for U.S. Soccer to lead a
change in the sport at the youth level,” said U.S. Soccer President
Sunil Gulati. “We need to shift the focus of our young elite players
from an ‘overburdened, game emphasis’ model to a ‘meaningful
training and competition’ model. This will ultimately lead to more
success and will allow players to develop to their full potential.”

To begin that process, U.S. Soccer is using the Development
Academy to create a wide-reaching movement within the grassroots
soccer environment that will educate parents, coaches and players
on the value of expanding national player development directly
to the clubs. Using the current U.S. Under-17 Residency Program
as a model, the youth clubs chosen to be part of the Development
Academy will increase the amount of time spent on meaningful
training while also increasing the qua li ty of their matches.

"It's a concept that youth soccer in this country desperately needs
and our goal is to truly shift the focus towards increasing player development,” said U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 National Team head
coach John Hackworth. “I think it will create a day-to-day training environment that will allow players the opportunity to develop to
the best of their abi li ty. Right now we have only 40 players in
that type of environment (at the U-17 Residency Program in
Bradenton , Fla. ), but this Academy will allow us to put thousands
of elite players in a similar environment, which will help us raise
the entire level across the nation."

With an emphasis on creating a superior everyday training
environment, teams in the Development Academy will have a clean
slate for a calendar and will be required to train a minimum of three
times a week, e li minating the growing trend of clubs playing an
excessive quantity of games in li eu of consistent training patterns.
To maintain an emphasis on training, Development Academy teams
will compete against other teams in the program and will not play in
any other leagues, tournaments or State Cup competitions, and
players will only be allowed to compete on their designated Academy
team (with exceptions for high school soccer and national team duty).

Clubs that are not part of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy will
continue to play in traditional youth soccer competitions, with the
longtime Olympic Development Program also continuing unimpeded.
With Development Academy players no longer being seen at ODP
events, those spots will now be open for additional players to be seen
at an elite level.

"I'm very excited about the estab li shment of the U.S. Soccer
Development Academy Program,” said U.S. Men’s National Team
Head Coach Bob Bradley. “It is very important for U.S. Soccer to
work with our top clubs to ensure that our best young players are
constantly being challenged in an environment that best promotes
player development. With a tremendous amount of reach, this
program will help focus training sessions and matches on the areas
that are critical to elevating our young players' ability to compete at
the elite levels of the sport."

The Development Academy will be divided into regions and will play
home and away matches against other Academy teams across a
complete season. Each Development Academy region will be
comprised of up to 15-20 teams based on geographic proximity,
with the winner of each region participating in the annual Academy
Finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson , Ca li f.
The Academy clubs will be comprised of Under-16 and Under-18
age groups, with a minimum of 22 players on a roster. Younger
players in the Academy system will also be allowed to be play “up”
within their club.

Clubs will have the opportunity to apply for membership in the
Academy program beginning June 1, and teams will be selected
by U.S. Soccer’s National Team coaches. U.S. Soccer’s coaches
will evaluate prospective clubs on a number of criteria, including a
club’s history of elite youth player development and past success in
elite competitions.

"The Academy is a comprehensive approach to help develop some
of the top players across the nation, but it is also designed to be
a working model for the grassroots level,” said U.S. Soccer Director
of Coaching Education & Youth Development Bob Jenkins.
“All the clubs involved will be moving in the same direction giving
us a similar approach to player development, and then these clubs
will act almost li ke satel li tes out in the country helping to spread
the message out to the clubs around them."

The Academy will also serve as a better coaching development
platform, with each participating club receiving two invitations to
the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Best Practices seminars.
The development platform for U.S. Soccer referees will also be
enhanced in the program, with U.S. Soccer assigning referees to
all Academy matches.

With the framework of the boys Development Academy serving as
a starting point for discussion, a similar initiative to enhance the development of female players will also be explored.


Objective: The focus of the Academy is on player development and providing players with the best possible opportunity to develop to the highest level they are capable of achieving

Standards: A minimum requirement of three training sessions and
one rest day per week

Teams: Up to 80 of the top youth soccer clubs in the U.S.

Selection: Clubs will be selected by U.S. Soccer coaches

Age Groups: U-16 & U-18 teams (minimum roster of 22 players);
providing opportunities for more than 2,000 players

Competition Format: Divided into regions with each team playing
between 30 and 38 home and away matches during an eight-month
season. Each region will be comprised of approximately 15-20 teams
based on geographic proximity. The winner of each region will play
in the Academy Finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson , Ca li f.

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U.S. Soccer Federation, 1801 S. Prairie Ave , Chicago IL 60616
Posted on 07 Jun 2007 by coachgianni
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