I have been on the road the past two weeks meeting with Directors of Coaching and College Coaches in Nor Cal, So Cal, and Arizona on bringing iSoccerPath and College Soccer Panels education services for the families and campers to them.  The subject of the new announcement of the USSF’s launch of the new Women’s Academy was naturally a hot topic.  As I listened to the how’s, why’s, cost’s, schedule’s and general philosophy of each Director and their plans who currently have an ECNL club, was the one sentence from the press release that had literally gone un-noticed from anyone I had met with.  I went back to each Director and asked them to remember the main mission statement of the press release and what was missing from it?

“This program will directly impact the everyday environment for clubs and further connect players and coaches to our National Teams.”

Where is any mention of directly impacting the girls to become student athletes and get their college education and degrees thru soccer? 

Most Directors were pretty much taken back when I read it out loud to them.  Being a parent of a youth soccer player who just made it thru 11 years of youth soccer, 4 years of Division 1 soccer and just signed a professional soccer contract I know first-hand about what the chances are of a player playing in college and beyond.  The 1% you hear about all the time is probably an inflated number, its actually lower when you think of over 2m soccer players a year trying to get a roster spot in a college soccer program.  Now think about being on the USSF National Team at the U15 to Full Women’s Team.  Rosters are 18 -20 at each age group who actually will get a spot on an actual youth national team and then it gets smaller to make the full National team.  Most soccer experts say it’s less than 1/10th of 1% that any player will play for a National Team, youth or full.

With approximately 1000+- women’s soccer programs that recruit on avg 6 to 8 players a year to college so that women can get a chance to get an education and become student athletes that’s maybe 6000-8000 female seniors a year getting to play at the next level.  For our U15 to full Team each year there are maybe 20-22 players invited in at each age group.  That is 160-180 women players will get a chance to wear our National team colors which is a fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity. No doubt about it.  However should that be the mission statement of a new playing league to possibly help 160-180 girls a year make the National Teams??   The USSF is 100% in charge of making our national youth teams strong and our women’s team the best in the world which is a challenging task in itself each year however we need to think about this huge National roll out of a program that will affect 60-80 clubs in several states and all that comes with it if the actual goal is to get 160-180 girls a year on our National teams.

This brings in the current system of ECNL, which promotes 4 to 6 college showcases each year that draw 300+ coaches to each event. Their mission statement in all fairness also does not state anything about promoting female soccer players to college however over the course of the last 4 to 5 years it has become just that, the pre-imminent college coach choice to attend to scout for college players. In the USSF press release, the new DA doesn’t even use the word “College” in their mention of their 2 yearly “events”.  Overall parents are going to spend their dollars with clubs who go to college showcases and can promote their daughters to get to college. If you want to be in a club that promotes trying to get your daughter onto a youth national team , you may have a tough time rostering 18 players at the proposed age groups.

What the USSF has or is creating with this culture within clubs and more importantly the parents and players who ARE the actual paying clients of all youth sports organizations is a reason for clubs to now keep ECNL if they have already have it and add the DA as well thereby having two competitive women’s structures at the top clubs in the US.  So far of the DOC’s I have talked with about this, the vote has been 4 out of 4 will likely go this direction.  Not sure if this was a simple oversight by USSF but 99.9% of parents (clients) of clubs have college as the number 1 goal for their daughters.  Maybe at the end of the day the USSF events will be the same as the ECNL college showcases, it’s a very safe bet that of course they will be.  However, college coaches have very small travel and recruit budgets and to add 2 more travel showcases to their travel plans may just make most of them make some tough choices of the devil they know vs. the devil they don’t.

This may come down to simple matter of semantics or a missed opportunity to insert a simple added value goal of the new DA in the press release however don’t underestimate the passion and goals of soccer parents. They will go where a college roster spot is not promised but certainly offered as the end result of joining their choice of clubs.