ECNL Reputation For High-Level Play Sets Standards in Youth Soccer Market
The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) is emerging from the wake of the demise of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy with strength and vision. Here is another announcement on their expansion in the youth soccer market.
The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) Girls is excited to announce the addition of the highly prestigious NWSL Louisville Academy for the 2020-21 season. This addition reinforces the ECNL mission to Raise the Game by supporting the development of the nation’s exceptional youth players.
The NWSL is the highest level of women’s soccer in America.
“We are excited to welcome NWSL Louisville Academy, and to offer the ECNL Girls platform to players in Kentucky for the first time,” said ECNL Girls Commissioner Jen Winnagle. “They will be a great addition to the Ohio Valley Conference, and we look forward to working with their leadership to support both the youth and professional game in Louisville.”
NWSL Louisville Academy was founded in March 2020 and will begin competition this fall. As part of the Louisville City Youth Academy, the girls’ academy aligned with Louisville’s NWSL franchise, which will begin play in 2021, and the boys’ academy is aligned with Louisville City FC, the city’s USL Championship men’s club.
NWSL Louisville Academy will launch teams in the U8 (local youth born in 2013) through U19 (local players born in 2002) age groups, with two teams in each age group.
“I am thrilled for all the girls in our community who aspire to play and compete at the highest level of girls youth soccer.”Mario Sanchez – Louisville City Youth Academy Director
“The ECNL Girls is the top level of girls’ youth soccer in our country,” Louisville City Youth Academy Director Mario Sanchez said. “The ECNL platform allows all of the girls to compete on a national level and be seen by U.S. Soccer National team scouts and college coaches from across the country.”
“The ECNL allows girls to pursue all of their dreams, whether that is the pursuit of a college soccer scholarship or an opportunity to play for the U.S. National teams. I am extremely proud of our Girls Academy Director Tim Nowak and his dedication to girls’ youth soccer. Tim has been a great leader and advocate for girls’ soccer in Louisville throughout the years,” added Sanchez.
Nearly 90% of ECNL Girls alumni move on to play in college, overwhelmingly dominating the 2019 individual conference honors in the “Power 5” conferences.
In total, over 1,100 ECNL Alums played this year in these five conferences, accounting for more than 62% of all rostered players in the Power 5.
“When we launched our club, our goal was to compete at the highest levels of American soccer, and the ECNL Girls presents the best competition for these young women,” Louisville City and NWSL Louisville President Brad Estes said. “We are looking forward to seeing local athletes compete with the nation’s best.”
“We are developing a comprehensive program for our young athletes that will guide them from an early foundation in the game through youth development and into their collegiate and professional careers,” Executive Vice President for Development James O’Connor said. “Our hope is that we see our young ECNL stars playing for our NWSL first team in the future.”
The ECNL Girls is a national brand that includes eight conferences that span the United States. Bordering Kentucky, the ECNL Girls includes three clubs in Ohio, two in Indiana, Tennessee, and one club in Missouri. NWSL Louisville Academy will be the first club in Kentucky admitted to the elite league.
“Having an ECNL program in Louisville is a development that many in the soccer community have been waiting a long time for!” said Samantha Hope, a Louisville native and WPSL head coach of the Charlotte Eagles. “Louisville is a place with humble soccer beginnings, and it has made me proud to see the sport grow in not just quantity over the years, but quality. I’m eager to follow the program and the club from afar!”
“This is an exciting day for girls’ soccer in Kentucky and for NWSL Louisville,” Sanchez said.
NWSL Louisville Academy will compete in regular-season conference games, cross-conference events, and ECNL national events while trying to qualify for the ECNL Playoffs. Tryouts for NWSL Louisville Academy are tentatively scheduled for the first week of June. Tryout dates may be adjusted due to safety precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information on participating member clubs for the 2020-21 Season will be released in the coming weeks.
Source: Media Release