Update on the New Girls Academy
Top Coaches Step Up To Create New DA Level Girls Academy
To stay up to date on the new Girls Academy, please follow The Girls Academy @GAcademyLeague Twitter
When U.S. Soccer suddenly closed the Development Academy (DA) — blaming in part the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic — it abdicated the responsibility of running its league in the elite youth soccer landscape.
Without establishing guidelines and options for America’s high-level youth soccer clubs who were participating, U.S. Soccer, in essence, simply walked away from these clubs and their players. While the Federation never intended to govern the DA for an endless future, this abrupt demise of this elite league essentially left an estimated 16,000+ players wondering what would be next.
The majority of clubs in the DA’s girls’ divisions had developed a healthy mutual respect and saw great benefit in maintaining their existing level of competition.
Now the unanticipated happened in this unprecedented situation.
Great soccer coaches across America have stepped up to solve the national void left by the closure of the Development Academy.
While coaches are traditionally respected for their on-field accomplishments and dedication to player development, they are not always known for their off-field, boardroom style maneuvers. Setting aside decades of differences, the top directors of clubs in the defunct U.S. Soccer Development Academy have bonded together and created the Girls Academy League to be known as the GA.
The new, national girls only elite youth soccer league will launch its inaugural season in 2020-2021 and will feature a total of six conferences:
The idea is to incorporate the many positives of the DA without a few of the most controversial and problematic requisites. The significant changes are:
- Players in the GA can play high school soccer.
- The substitution rules are back to the preferred norm of re-entry, allowing coaches to better utilize and showcase their players.
While the GA is not limited to only youth soccer clubs who were selected to compete in the DA, it is designed to provide a playing environment primarily for former DA teams. The goal is clear: Protect the players — save as much of the gaming circuit of the DA as possible and provide the desired player environment.
“All decisions will be made with the best interests of our players in mind.”From Southwest Region Conference GA League Teams statement
“Following the announcement by U.S. Soccer and their decision to cease operation of the Development Academy, we are committed to the New Girls Academy League (GA),” is the opening line of the statement from the Southwest Region Conference GA League Teams.
Excerpt of the GA Southwest Conference statement is below:
“The clubs that make up this GA conference were selected to the DA to continue to push elite female development forward.”
“While the DA will no longer be operating in its current format, we agree to continue maintaining the same high standards that we have committed to and which lead to excellence in player development.”
“The conference is committed to unity and collaboration as we move forward in establishing the GA League.”
“We will work together to further develop our conference as well as the regional and national level, to provide our members with an unparalleled experience.”
Announced on April 25, the 10 youth soccer clubs in the GA Southwest Conference include in alphabetical order:
Albion SC San Diego, Albion SC Las Vegas, Beach FC, City SC San Diego, LA Surf SC, Legends FC, Pateadores, SC del Sol, Utah Royals FC- Arizona Academy, and West Coast FC.
“The GA is a fantastic opportunity for players across America and is the result of top coaches all collaborating to create something very special.”Michael Duggan – City San Diego SC
“City Soccer Club is excited to be a part of the Girls Academy, which will provide a pathway for our players to compete locally, regionally, and nationally while creating a platform for college exposure. We are proud to continue this collaboration with clubs from our former conference to help shape the future women’s soccer landscape within the USA,” said Michael Duggan.
“The development of our players has always been our main focus and we are confident that the GA League will be the best pathway for our players to thrive.”
“City SC has been proud to help pave the way for women’s soccer in our community and we have always made our decisions based on our player’s development,” said Duggan.
“LA Surf SC is committed to providing the best of the best opportunities and experiences for all of our players. We are looking forward to participating in the inaugural season of The Girls Academy League as we strive to offer excellent competition and collegiate exposure for our Girls Elite Program,” said Barry Ritson.
“ALBION SC San Diego is proud to be part of reshaping the future of elite soccer in the country for the girls game.”
“The GA will now be the leader of soccer in the country with the majority of the clubs in alignment with the GA.”Noah Gins
“In addition, the GA will preserve the integrity of what was in place that brought standards above and beyond what had ever been seen. While the DA was the standard, now the GA will prove to be the standard in this country for Girls elite soccer,” said Noah Gins.
“The clubs and the leaders who have collaborated to create the GA League are some of the best in the country.Platini Soaf
“West Coast FC is very excited to join and compete on this national platform which will provide the quality and opportunities to showcase our players and ensure their continued development,” said Platini Soaf.
“As an NWSL academy, the Utah Royals FC-AZ looks to facilitate and foster an optimal performance environment to develop great players,” said Tiffany Roberts Academy Director.
“We can’t wait to collaborate with the clubs from our former conference to continue to instill high standards and focus on player development.”Tiffany Roberts Academy Director
“The Pateadores are excited to be members of the Girls Academy League. The platform will allow our players to progress with their soccer development and be showcased on a State, Regional, and National level,” said Neil Powell, Pateadores Girls Academy Program Technical Director
“SC del Sol will continue to be a leader in player development and continue to hold the highest of standards, the Girls Academy League will allow us to further player development and opportunity whilst continuing to compete against top clubs at a national level,” said Les Armstrong.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best youth soccer organizations in the nation.”Les Armstrong
On May 5, the Girls Academy (GA) announced the teams in the Frontier Conference. The youth soccer clubs competing in this Girls Academy (GA) Conference include RISE, Oklahoma Energy FC, Houston Dash, Lonestar SC, Lou Fusz Athletic, Colorado Rush, Sporting Blue Valley, and San Anontion City SC.
On April 23, the Girls Academy (GA) unveiled its first group of youth soccer clubs who have agreed to compete in the GA’s Northeast Conference: Cedar Stars Academy – Bergen (NJ), Long Island SC (NY), NEFC (MA), New York SC (NY), Oakwood SC (CT), Seacoast United (NH), South Shore Select (MA) and STA (NJ).
On April 24, the Girls Academy announced its second group of 12 youth soccer clubs who will compete in the GA’s Mid-America Conference: Beadling SC (PA), Chicago FC United (IL), Cleveland Force SC (OH), Cincinnati United SC (OH), Indy Premier (IN), Michigan Jaguars FC (MI), Midwest United FC (MI), Minnesota Eclipse (MN), Nationals (MI), Salvo SC (MN), SC Wave (WI) and Sockers FC Chicago (IL).
On May 7, the Girls Academy (GA) announced the teams in the Northwest Conference. A few weeks later, on May 28, the GA announced that Santa Clara Sporting and FC Bay Area also joined this Northwest Conference.
According to Soccerwire, the GA’s Mid-America Conference has seven former DA programs along with five non-DA clubs. And, as of May 30, Mid-America Conference has just added Sporting St. Louis and Century United FC.
In the past, youth soccer coaches have established solutions to fill the void in player development and raise the standards of the game. The Southern California Developmental Soccer League, better known by its acronym SCDSL was created in 2011 to accomplish this goal and it successfully reflects the competitive youth soccer landscape’s ability to work together when it wants to.
In part, the GA is an evolution of the DPL (Development Players League) which was established in 2017 to provide a similar training environment as the DA and created a secondary girls’ player pool with an easy transition for advancement.
Started in Southern California, the DPL proved to be a successful collaboration of top youth soccer clubs and their coaches. Last season, 24 youth soccer clubs have taken advantage of competing in the DPL, reflecting a total of 144 teams playing in 3 conferences; Southwest, West, and Frontier.
Key influencers in the DPL include Barry Ritson – LA Surf, Kevin Byd – Legends FC, Troy Garner – Tophat Soccer, Wes Schevers – Lonestar SC and Matt Grubb – FC Dallas Youth.
Follow The Girls Academy on Twitter @GAcademyLeague