Sep 1, 2012

Hey Sunil Gulati, what about a Girls Development Academy?

From U.S. Soccer, the Development Academy will be adding a U13/U14 program beginning next year.  From the U.S. Soccer report:
“We started the Development Academy to improve player development on all levels, and adding a competitive structure to the U-13/14 age group is an important next step in this long-term process,” said Development Academy Director of Scouting Tony Lepore. “The U-13/14 age group is at a very crucial stage in their development. Applying the overall philosophy of the Academy to the U-13/14 age group will allow us to continue to shift the focus of the young elite player to meaningful training and competition.” 
The clubs selected for the U-13/14 age group will follow a model that increases training to four times a week, with fewer but meaningful matches, and the schedule structure will be regionalized to limit the amount of travel. 
“I am very excited to see this important next step in the process of developing young players in this country,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Just as with the players on the National Team, these young players need to get increased training and play in the most meaningful games they can. Being in the Academy also gives them more time to practice on their own, which gives them another chance to be creative and have fun. All these elements are critical for players at this age group.”
I like this move, a great deal, for the young players.  However......

This country is neglecting half of the population.  Instead of or at least in addition to a U14 division for the boys, I would like to see U.S. Soccer start and develop a program for U18 and U16 girls.  There are two things that we have learned from the U.S. WNT's experience in the past two years:  The U.S. Women, while good, are not the dominant force they once were.  The U.S. Women typically rely on a common core of players over a very long term, so there is less turnover to bring in quality young players.  I have nothing against players like Christie Rampone or Abby Wambach, who are performing at a very high level well into their 30's.  But could a little more competition be good for the American women?  Of course, and while the women's game at the college level is quality, imagine the quality of players that could be developed with a Development Academy set up for women.

Just as the men's college game is improving because the Development Academy is pushing quality players into college programs (after all, very few players will go from Academy teams to MLS or NASL or USL-Pro set ups), the women's college game will improve as well.  And of course, national team programs, from the senior teams to the youth national teams, will benefit.

So why don't we have a Development Academy for girls? Sunil?  Can you answer that question?

What about you?  What are you thoughts about the lack of a Development Academy for girls sponsored by U.S. Soccer?

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