A National Youth Soccer Championship Outside of US Youth Soccer & US Club
A new youth soccer tournament, Elite One Cup, launches with a vision of changing the game for the better and welcoming every youth soccer player, regardless of where they play league games.
Greg Smith has a vision that youth soccer can be better, with a higher degree of focus on what is best for the youth player by embracing a community that truly works together for the benefit of all. Currently, there are many silos operating independently in the youth soccer landscape in an endless pursuit of player registrations, often resulting in membership cannibalization.
Smith believes, from experience, that the landscape will benefit from an opportunity for teams to compete in an open environment.
After working at US Youth Soccer as the East Region General Manager and responsible for policy, research, and corporate communications, Smith who holds a Ph.D. wanted to do something impactful and turned his efforts to create a new youth soccer tournament — and one that was outside of the establishment’s purview. This week, Smith has announced the Elite One Cup, which he says is a “momentous step forward in the evolution of youth soccer in America.”
The Elite One Cup is providing the exciting opportunity for teams to compete in one national championship, regardless of their affiliations or memberships.
The Elite One Cup culminates with the National Championship, a six-day event in July 2021
Smith calls Elite One a social change company with the goal of embracing a unified soccer community working together for the benefit of all. The idea is to grow and improve participation.
According to Elite One Cup’s site, “a social change company works to improve human interactions and relationships while transforming institutions.”
Elite One provides innovative, high-quality events that are open to all players, regardless if they are part of US Youth Soccer or US Club Soccer or any other organization. In fact, the Elite One Cup is even outside of U.S. Soccer’s purview.
What were the reasons for this novel approach? We asked Greg Smith
SoccerToday Interview With Greg Smith
Diane Scavuzzo: Why not run the Elite One Cup with/through the U.S. Soccer Federation?
Greg Smith: There are a few reasons.
Elite One is not a membership organization. As a social change company, we provide high-quality events, programs, and services that are open to all youth soccer players, regardless of their affiliations. Teams are not charged a membership fee to participate in the Elite One Cup. And, yes, all participants are provided with insurance which is normally provided through an association.
This National Championship provides the greatest opportunity to introduce the open concept — where all are welcome, equally, in a minimally intrusive way.
The mission of the Elite One Cup is to embrace a unified soccer community that works together for the benefit of all to best grow and improve participation.
One way to work towards achieving this mission is to treat all soccer participants as equals and to provide competition opportunities that are open to all and that are not based on carding, registration, or membership status.
Other reasons include U.S. Soccer Federation’s policies prohibit its members from offering a truly open competition (Policy 212-1, Section 4a). As such, the Elite One Cup is only possible because of its independence.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does this tournament fit into the new normal of youth soccer?
Greg Smith: Our tournament structure not only minimizes travel and nights away from home but also reduces the total number of games that need to be played to be crowned youth soccer’s one true national champion. This also results in fewer conflicts with their league and tournament schedules.
Accepted teams will participate in an Elite One Cup city qualifier over a three-day weekend where they will play one game each day.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the feel of the event?
Greg Smith: The Elite One Cup will be professional, welcoming, and noteworthy — these are words that I would use to describe the feel. The name Elite One helps to convey the message – “elite” because the event is quality, innovative, and high level, and “one” because of the commitment to unity within the soccer landscape.
National team and professional scouts will be invited to attend in addition to college coaches.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the tournament details?
Greg Smith: The 2020-21 Elite One Cup will begin by welcoming applications from all rising U13 to U19 teams in June 2020, with applications accepted through December 15, 2020.
Accepted teams play at least three games, and up to eight games depending on how far they advance in the competition.
Regardless of how far a team advances to the National Championship, there is only one participation fee.
With only one tournament fee, and with no additional charges for rostering, carding, membership, the Elite One Cup offers a great value.
The Elite One Cup city qualifiers will be held in the fall and spring at premier facilities across the country. Each city qualifier will be held over a three-day weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and teams will play one game each day for a total of three games in a round-robin format. The top finishing team from each age, gender, and division will advance to the National Championship.
Elite One Cup — Additional Details
For the 2020-21 Elite One Cup, the top 64 teams in each age/gender flight will be accepted and placed into division one (DI) or division two (DII). Within each division, teams will be placed in the city qualifiers to ensure a balanced competition where teams have the best opportunity to advance based on performance. While separate competitions, DI and DII will play at the same city qualifier venues on the same dates.
For best consideration, however, teams are encouraged to apply by July 31, 2020. Applications will be reviewed by the Elite One Cup Selection Committee. Selected teams will be notified of their acceptance by August 15, 2020 (fall qualifiers), or January 1, 2021 (spring qualifiers).
The Elite One Cup culminates with the National Championship, a six-day event in July 2021 where the top eight teams in each age, gender, and division will be split into two groups. After a day of rest, the top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals, followed by the National Championship.
Katia Sarokon is the National Administrator for Elite One.
For more information, please visit 2020-21 Elite One Cup Competition Rules