The U.S. Soccer Girls' Development Academy is set to kick off its inaugural season on Sept. 2, marking the start of competition for more than 6,000 players from 69 member clubs. The Academy develops world-class players by impacting everyday club environments across the country. Following 10 years of success for the Boys' Academy, the Girls' Academy launches this fall to bring the development initiative to female youth players.
A total of 108 games will kick off on opening weekend, highlighted by the Girls' Academy's first feature game 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."
The Girls' Academy is the highest level of girls' youth soccer in the U.S., and 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.
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.
It 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.