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Breakaway: 24 leading youth clubs form new, nationwide “Boys Club Championship”

The scramble for positioning in U.S. youth soccer’s rapidly-evolving landscape took another turn on Friday morning, as a pack of highly-regarded travel clubs from coast to coast announced their plans to compete in a national league for elite boys teams called the Boys Club Championship.

BCC-logo-croppedThe participating clubs, which purport to be 24 in number thus far and include nationally-recognized outfits like Fullerton Rangers, Slammers FC (both Southern California), Gwinnett Soccer Association of the Atlanta area, Michigan’s Waza FC, Cincinnati-based club Ohio Elite and FC Virginia, whose president and technical director, Terry Foley, is named as the president of the new organization.

“Outside of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, there was not a platform for strong boys clubs to compete at a high level nationally,” said Foley in a press release. “We feel the BCC will give these clubs the competition they desire on a regular basis. The success of the BCC will be the quality of competition across all age groups.”

Though Foley’s release refers only generically to an “inaugural national equipment sponsor,” sources with knowledge of the situation tell that the sponsor in question is Puma, the German-based apparel giant which is apparently mulling a bigger push in a U.S. youth market dominated by Nike and Adidas.

 + READ: Arsenal, Richmond Strikers end technical skills partnership due to Puma-Nike split

Other corporate sponsors are likely to be announced in the weeks ahead, and will be needed if the BCC’s members are to sustain a national footprint and its attending travel costs. Though clubs will be sectioned into four regional divisions – and has learned that a 16-game regular season is planned, with 10 games played regionally, plus 3-game stretches at two major national college showcase events, including the Las Vegas Players Showcase, and another yet to be named.

The first year of competition will consist of the under-15 through under-18 age groups, with it being left to the member clubs how rigorous a schedule the under-18 groups would play, and also if they wished to organize “pre-BCC” competition for their younger ages.

Foley, an Englishman has also managed women’s professional and pro-am clubs in WPS and W-League, is being assisted in this venture by Tim Lesiak, the executive director of Ohio Elite and the vice president of the BCC.

“Our philosophy has always been to test our players against the other top clubs and players across the country,” said Lesiak, calling the new league “a forward-thinking group” in a statement.

“Our boys teams are highly competitive and the BCC gives us a consistent, competitive platform against similar clubs from different parts of the country.”

 + READ: Terry Foley reveals big plans, calls out naysayers at FC Virginia Open House

The release also names LA Premier, Albion SC (both California), Birmingham United Soccer Association (Ala.), Tennessee SC, Maryland United and FC Bucks (Pa.) among the clubs committed for year one of the BCC, which will begin play this fall – though Foley says there are still places available for interested clubs.

Terry Foley.

Intriguingly, the BCC will be sanctioned not by the traditional such bodies, US Youth Soccer or U.S. Club Soccer, but by the USSSA, a multi-sport sanctioning body which has worked with U.S. Soccer since 2001 but was originally founded as a softball organization.

Taking this route would appear to offer BCC members maximum flexibility when it comes to roster construction, as teams and players already registered in US Youth and/or U.S. Club competitions would thus not see their participation options limited as a result. Due to USSSA’s involvement, the new organization also will not be permitted to use the term “league” in referring to itself,  presumably due to USSSA’s contractual terms with other soccer entities.

The BCC expects to formally name their national sponsor in the coming days or weeks, as well as release the names of additional member clubs.

Filed under: Clubs, Elite Youth League, Leagues, Youth Boys

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  1. Beau Dure says:

    Can someone explain to me what was so awful about NCSL that everyone needed to form another league? A few years ago, you’d have Loudoun, Arlington, PWSI, McLean and everyone else competing to get their teams in the top division. Now they’re all in CCL, ECHUKJL, AHJKHBAL and WHATTHEBL. Why?

  2. YourOut says:

    I know one of the announced clubs abandoned their boys premier program in lieu of girls ECNL. All the talented boys went elsewhere. How will they get this restarted? Also, its such an important announcement their website has no mention of it.

  3. Girly Girl says:

    Couldn’t this level of competition be hosted by the new WAGS boys league?

    • Soccer Dad says:

      Are you seriously suggesting the new WAGS league for boys is the proper place for local boys teams looking for more competition? First, the WAGS league is just for very young age groups so it does nothing for teams above U11. Second, because so few teams joined the WAGS program, some of the boys teams are trying to get back into NCSL, and are willing to sacrifice what they paid to WAGS. The new EDPL hasn’t even started yet but it’s not too early to call it a failure on the boys side.

      Why did WAGS think boys teams would leave NCSL to join the incompetence of WAGS?

  4. ChelseaFan says:

    What you’re seeing, folks, is a mad scramble to reach into the pockets of parents suffering from the anxiety of how to get their kids ahead! The result is this alphabet soup of confusion in the soccer world. Time for US Soccer to take control and make sure it all shakes out to end some of the confusion.

  5. stayrelevaant says:

    After last week at US Club event and this week at SoccerPlex, the drop off in player talent and competition between USSDA and these leagues has become gigantic at this point. USYSA and US club need to figure out how to stay relevant in there strategy at this point.

    New leagues are trying to get a market share for what is left with the desire something will stick so they have a product.

  6. cincysoccer11 says:

    I’m sorry but I agree with the above comments. The USYSA National Championships going on this week are the best competition in the country outside the USSDA. The teams above are the “wannabes” that can’t get to the National Championships through State Cup or are not good enough to make it into the National League.

    This is about, as TAD said, clubs that are second tier clubs trying to make something special by calling it a “national championship” league.

    Just what this country needs another league for our players to get stuck having to play. Teams/clubs that make the commitment to play MRL, NPL, National League and their own state leagues to qualify for State Cup are playing up to 35-40 games in a spring season. Ludicrous. What we need is less leagues, less games and more training.

    • Neal P. says:

      Maybe the benefit is to get the so called “wannabes” playing other clubs that have the same philosophy about soccer player development. As opposed to “some” of the larger clubs that can just take the biggest and fastest players at a young age. There are plenty of skilled players that are very serious their soccer development that will benefit from this. Or do you just want to keep the “wannabes” where they are?

      • ThinkingHat says:

        Agree with Neal P. There are a lot of skilled players who are overlooked because of their small size. These players will certainly get a chance to showcase on a bigger stage. While I agree with everyone that this league business is getting out of hand, maybe this will keep the clubs with academy status on their toes to deliver.

    • Alliance14 says:

      Waza FC and Alliance ACademy who are from Michigan have teams competing in the National League so I have no idea what you mean by “wannabes”.

  7. StokeFan says:

    Who does this really benefit? What problem is it trying to solve? I disagree that outside the DA there has been no good national competition for strong clubs. In fact, Fullerton, a member club of the new BCC, is competing this week at USYS Nationals – by definition, significant national competition! There’s USYS National League, US Club Soccer NPL, numerous strong regional leagues, and the established national non-league competitions like Disney, Dallas Cup, Surf Cup, Las Vegas Showcase, and – locally – Bethesda, Potomac and Jeff Cup. I think this can’t-legally-call-it-a-soccer-league will have an uphill battle for credibility, having sought out USSSA for sanctioning (perhaps because the existing major soccer bodies saw it as a redundant proposition?). It’ll be interesting to see if players actually become better players through this, and if there is a good ROI for member clubs, or if it’s a vanity coalition of those willing to pay. Kudos to them for getting a national sponsor, though – hopefully that will keep costs reasonable for players and member clubs.

  8. TAD says:

    All of the club’s, except Fullerton and maybe Gwinnett, are second tier clubs at best. Why drag average to good players and teams all over the country when they struggle to compete against the top teams in their own state? Also, it does not make any sense to pretend to have an elite leaguevwhen none of the clubs involved have a professional first team to give the training context. Maybe if the league was comprised of clubs like Dix Hills, Santa Barbara, Vardar, Ohio Premier, Arlington Soccer Association, Lobos and Sunrise Elite it would make a little sense, but those clubs already have teams competing in the National Leagues and Regional Premier leagues. The last thing that is needed is a national league for second teams.

  9. Rumble Fish says:

    I can’t keep track of all this stuff anymore. Development Academy, US Soccer, US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer… holy crap. I don’t even know.

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