USSF shakes up youth landscape

Discussion in 'Prem talk, Those Other Leagues, and International' started by FFCinPCB, Jun 5, 2007.

  1. FFCinPCB

    FFCinPCB New Member

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    by Mike Woitalla, Tuesday, Jun 5, 2007 7:01 AM ET

    The U.S. Soccer Federation is launching the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, which promises to dramatically decrease the men's national team program's dependence on the Olympic Development Program to identify players. The Federation has started accepting applications from the nation's elite youth clubs to run academy teams for U-16 and U-18 boys to compete in the academy's regional leagues. Up to 80 clubs will be chosen by U.S. Soccer's national team coaches to run academy teams. Players in the academy program will not take part in ODP. To counter the "growing trend of clubs playing an excessive quantity of games in lieu of consistent training patterns," academy teams will not play in any other leagues, tournaments or State Cup competitions. Players will only be allowed to compete on their designated academy team (with exceptions for high school soccer and national team duty). The Federation says ODP, which is run by U.S. Youth Soccer and state associations, will continue "unimpeded" because the spots opened up academy players who won't take part will be filled by additional players.
    The Federation released several documents pertaining to the new program that will provide opportunities for more than 2,000 players:
    Academy Overview, On the Field Details, Academy Presentation, Membership Application for clubs.


    "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," says U.S. U-17 boys national team coach John Hackworth, who heads the U-17 residency camp in Bradenton, Fla., that U.S. Soccer established in 1999. "I think it will create a day-to-day training environment that will allow players the opportunity to develop to the best of their ability. Right now we have only 40 players in that type of environment [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."

    Development Academy regional leagues will comprise up to 15-20 teams and will play home and away matches against other Development Academy teams across a complete season.

    Criteria for clubs selected to field Development Academy teams include a club's history of elite youth player development and past success in elite competitions.

    Players will be charged a $1 fee and coaches will pay a $25 registration fee, but clubs are responsible for participation expenses such as travel, facility-use fees, coaching costs, equipment, apparel and other relevant costs.

    Winners of each region will compete in annual finals at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

    Included in the Academy structure:
    * A minimum requirement of three training sessions and one rest day per week.
    * Academy teams will play 30 to 38 games per year (8-month season).
    * The U.S. U-16 national team will compete in the U-18 Academy League.
    * Each player must start 30 percent of the time.
     
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  2. FFCinPCB

    FFCinPCB New Member

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    U.S. Soccer Development Academy: The Impetus
    by Mike Woitalla, Tuesday, Jun 5, 2007 7:01 AM ET

    SHORTLY AFTER BEING ELECTED U.S. Soccer President in March of 2006, Sunil Gulati launched a complete review of all the Federation's technical areas. The Technical Committee, headed by Kevin Payne, concluded that on the youth player development front, at ages 13 to 17, elite players needed an increase in the quality and quantity of training; an increase in the number of quality games, but a reduction in the overall amount of games. Between the myriad state, regional and national competitions, showcase tournaments and ODP events, a typical young American elite player was "stretched too thin." Said U.S. U-15 boys national team coach Jim Barlow, "It was never more clear to me that things in our youth soccer structure needed to change than at our first U-15 camp last summer when about half of the players, on the very first day of national team camp, told their coaches that they were tired of soccer. Too many games, too many leagues, too many tournaments and camps, too much structured soccer had already taken its toll on this group of talented young players." And thus came the launch of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

    "I applaud U.S. Soccer for taking some bold steps to change directions and to make its top priority the players," said Barlow.

    Bob Jenkins, U.S. Soccer Director of Youth Development, found that the club coaches whose teams participate in an excessive amount of competitions - placing an emphasis on results over player development - often agreed that their players were asked to play too many games. But they go along with it because the parents who pay them judge them on their teams' trophy-collecting ability and believe that if the children miss a showcase event they may miss a chance to be discovered by college or national team coaches.

    The U.S. Soccer Development Academy will incorporate the elite clubs and their coaches but limit the number of games and travel while ensuring that the players will be seen by U.S. Soccer staff coaches and college coaches.

    "For the good of the game, this is a welcome and long overdue concept," says Sasho Cirovski, University of Maryland coach and chair of the NSCAA Division I Coaches. "Youth soccer has become obsessed with winning and learning through games at the expense of development of fundamental techniques.

    "The emphasis on training, combined with a periodization schedule that will allow players to train and play games mentally and physically at 100 percent, is exciting.

    "It has become increasingly frustrating for all of my colleagues to watch 'tired' players, knowing that they are being paced in practices so that they can survive in the games. College coaches will be able to evaluate players in a consistent high quality competitive environment. In the long run, I believe that this will make our recruiting less costly and more efficient. This is something that all of us in college soccer welcome with open arms."

    Says 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."
     
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  3. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    Jan 4, 2005
    So... where do the 'players' and club academies figure in?

    Friedel's, Beckham's and Crystal Palace's come to mind?
     
    #3
  4. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    I had that same thought. Is this a cohesive development scheme or a power grab by USSF?
     
    #4
  5. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    Jan 4, 2005
    Then DAMMIT.. post before I do, so I can dump on you.

    Sick and tired of you thinking exactly like me EXCEPT politically, In which case ONE of us is an idiot.

    Oh, wait... No we dont, because CC was LONG overdue for firing! Note that YOU cling to him emotionally though.
     
    #5
  6. Team_of_McBrides

    Team_of_McBrides New Member

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    May 28, 2007
    Isn't that cute. They are like the odd couple. So who is Walter Matthau and who is Art Carney?

    All kidding aside I think this is a move in the right direction. Academies having more games that place them against the highest level of talent the nation has to offer. On the other hand the question arises of club academies as Don and Fog made mention to. Are they a part of this new plan or a seperant entity.
     
    #6
  7. FFCinPCB

    FFCinPCB New Member

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    I have to think the Grumpy Old Men version suits them best,

    But back on topic, my first reaction to this anouncement was a positive one, thinking it would be better for the kids to perhaps have a bit more more balance in the program. But now the muppets bring the idea of a power-grab as an underlying reason, and I have to think about grabbing my stick and beating on one of my favorite pinatas, Sunil Gulati.

    If in fact, Sunil and USSF are trying to drive a wedge between their programs and others, and force a decision by many parents and players to gravitate towards USSF programs, well I'm interested to hear all sides.

    Please feel free to explain your points more in depth.
     
    #7
  8. Team_of_McBrides

    Team_of_McBrides New Member

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    May 28, 2007
    That seems to be the dark side of this new development. A power struggle would throw a wrench into the entire plan.

    I am really pleased to see that the US is taking an academy or european approach to the development of young players. Facilitating more games and practices with top coaches and allowing these young players the opportunity to play at a higher level of competition.
     
    #8
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