The Girls' Development Academy is part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in women's soccer and connects with its long-term plan to improve player and coach development. The mission of the program is to provide education, resources and support to directly impact the everyday environment for clubs to develop world-class female players.
Creating the Girls' Development Academy provides the elite female player with an improved player development model in which players can focus solely on training with the appropriate number and level of games. This model focuses on the developing the individual player within the club environment, which allows for additional training sessions per season to enhance player development.
What is the Development Academy?
U.S. Soccer started the Development Academy Program to improve long-term player and coach development. After studying player development models domestically and internationally, U.S. Soccer collaborated with elite soccer clubs across the nation to create a program to provide the proper environment by emphasizing quality training and limited meaningful competition.
Why is U.S. Soccer creating a Girls' Development Academy?
We want to provide a player centered program that is focused on the development of the individual without bias, distractions, self-interests and financial gains that compromise the optimal everyday environment. We also believe this is needed so we continue to set the standard for world-class players.
When will the Girls' Development Academy begin and what are the season dates?
The first year of competition for the Program will begin in the fall of 2017. The season will likely begin in September and end in July.
What are some of the benefits of playing in the Girls' Development Academy?
The Academy's elite training environment promotes increased technical standards and allows for greater accountability for players and coaches. Coaches can devote more time to these areas in training. Both players and coaches must learn to deal with and manage the challenges of playing in games using international rules, which is what players will experience at the highest levels.
The Academy program provides an improved environment with the proper training-to-game ratio that supports year round periodization for development.
How does playing in the Girls' Development Academy help a player accelerate their development?
By participating in the Academy, a player will have substantially more hours on the training field focused on refining technique and tactical understanding. With a minimum of four training sessions per week, there is significant opportunity to work on technique and receive instruction from coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors as part of a continuous seasonal plan for the players' development.
What clubs can apply to be part of the Girls' Development Academy? Do clubs have to have both a boys and girls program?
Any club that believes it can meet the standards set by U.S. Soccer is welcome to apply to be part of the Academy.
How many clubs will be selected to be part of the Girls' Development Academy?
The exact number has not been determined at this time; this is based on player pool, market analysis, geography, and quality of the club applicant pool.
When is the application available and when is the deadline to apply?
The Application will be available on www.ussoccerda.com beginning Monday, May 2nd. Club applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through July 1, 2016. After which, club applications will be evaluated on a series of criteria and decisions will be communicated on a rolling basis through the end of 2016.
What criteria will be used to select the clubs that will be part of the Girls' Development Academy?
The Academy will use the following criteria when evaluating the application of each club for membership:
Who will be evaluating club applications?
U.S. Soccer's Women's Youth National Team technical staff and Development Academy staff will review applications and accept clubs that meet the Girls' Development Academy criteria.
Does an Academy club have to field a team at all age groups?
Yes, clubs must have a team at all three combined age groups U-14/15, U-16/17, and U-18/19.
Will coaches have a license requirement? What license level? Starting when?
U.S. Soccer strongly believes that the quality of coaching has a direct impact on the quality of player development; therefore, the Girls' Development Academy will have a minimum license for all coaches to coach in the Academy. Similar to the process for the Boys Academy, U.S. Soccer will communicate timelines and expectations based on the analysis of the applications and the current license levels for the coaches. Clubs will be provided with a clear pathway to meet minimum license standards and expectations during the projected timeline. The future goal is for each Academy coach to hold a minimum of a USSF B license and for each Girls' Academy Director to hold a USSF A license. We understand that many coaches do not currently hold the desired minimum license; therefore, we will provide coaches time to meet the minimum requirements with the new U.S. Soccer license structure.
The Academy will provide the appropriate game to rest ratio and players will not be allowed to play simultaneously in the Academy and in outside competition, e.g. scholastic soccer. The Academy will maintain a 10-month program schedule to provide players with the optimal everyday environment.
How does someone join (tryout for) an Academy club?
Anyone interested in playing for a Girls' Academy club will need to contact the club directly for specific information regarding the player selection process. The Girls' Development Academy firmly believes that the traditional open tryout is a highly flawed and ineffective model for player identification and evaluation. The expectation is that Academy clubs move to using a more systematic scouting model to identify and recruit new talents and invite these players to trial for an extended period with the current player pool.
Once clubs are announced, you will find club contact information on the Academy website at www.ussoccerda.com.
How many players will be on a roster?
As a combined age group, players are encouraged to play up and clubs will have groups of players that they will move up and move freely among age groups within their Academy program. The projected pool would equate to approximately 23 players per age group for a total of 69 full-time players amongst the three age groups (U-14/15, U-16/17, and U-18/19).
Scheduling and League FAQ's
What are the substitution rules?
The rules governing games in the Girls' Development Academy match the rules that govern soccer games around the world (FIFA). For example, allowing substitutes to re-enter a match, which is common in high school, club soccer, and collegiate soccer, is not allowed anywhere else in the world, thus the Girls' Academy will align with the rules governing the world's game.
How many games are played and how long is the Academy season? How many showcases are hosted per year?
Each Academy team plays approximately 25-30 league games, with an additional 6-9 games played at Showcases. Teams that advance from the Academy Playoffs could expect to play up to an additional 3 games. The season will likely begin in September and commence with Championships in July. Clubs will break from league play for periods of rest (including inactivity due to weather), during a winter break (December/January) and/or following the end of the regular season (July).
How much are Academy clubs required to travel?
Academy clubs can expect approximately 15 away games in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary between clubs depending on their geographic proximity to their conference opponents and Academy events.
What does the Academy Program Cost for players and clubs?
U.S. Soccer covers many of the costs for clubs so they can reinvest these funds into their Girls' Academy Club and players. There are no referee fees for league games, showcases or playoffs. Clubs are not charged any event or showcase fees to attend. In addition, Clubs are provided with Nike Balls for training and games and receive Powerade coolers and beverages among other corporate partner benefits.
The Academy strongly believes that no player should face a (financial) barrier to play soccer. Therefore, clubs are encourages to subsidize costs for players in financial need. In addition, U.S. Soccer offers a scholarship program, open to any full-time Academy player, to assist players with covering Academy travel cost. For more information, visit the scholarship program page.
What costs can a player or club expect?
Clubs will only pay a flat registration fee for players and coaches. Clubs are responsible for all team travel expenses to their league games and events.
Will the regional alignments be the same as the boys DA?
The regional alignments will be determined based on the club applicant pool and their geographical location.
Are the rules & regulations exactly the same as the boys DA?
The Academy program has been developed over time to create the ideal everyday environment for player development. The Academy has continually grown and adapted over the 9 years of existence and will use key learnings and best practices for the girls program. The vast majority of the current Academy rules and regulations will be the same. The Girls' Development Academy staff will create or modify any rules or regulations as deemed necessary.