Richmond Kickers add cost-free U14 Academy
One year after implementing a landmark cost-free U16 and U18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy program, the Richmond Kickers announced the addition of a fully funded U14 Academy. The Kickers have applied for the new age group to be a member of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-13/14 Program, starting in the fall 2013.
The Richmond Kickers have been members of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy since its inception in 2007, a partnership that provides the best youth players in the country with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of collegiate, professional and national team players.
“We are indebted to our sponsors and donors who have embraced our long term vision for a Cost-Free Academy program for the Virginia region,” commented Rob Ukrop, Richmond Kickers President, Board of Directors. “As a club, our goal is to help nurture our young players so they can achieve their goals on and off the soccer field. This significant investment in our development model allows the region’s most talented players the opportunity to represent our community on a national level.”
“This is another significant step toward creating a professional youth development model that will compare favorably with the best MLS Academies in the country,” added Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “The Kickers are committed long term to developing the top players in the Virginia region. Our coaches and facilities are among the best in the nation and we will always emphasize playing attacking, possession-style soccer. Our ultimate goal is to produce academy players who are capable of competing at the nation’s top universities and professional levels including the Kickers First Team.”
The historic milestone in Virginia youth soccer development is reached through the support of partnerships with The Computer Solution Company, Proseal America, Inc, and multiple donors, allowing dedicated and talented players to reach the highest level of youth soccer, playing, training and traveling free of charge. Valued at $30,000 for a six-year player, the Kickers cost-free Academy eliminates the most significant barrier for talented players to compete in U.S. Soccer’s world-class program.
The addition of the U14 Academy reflects U.S. Soccer’s continual effort to progress and enhance player development. Consisting of current Academy clubs with the potential to include clubs from outside the current Academy structure, the U13/U14 Division will follow a model that increases training to four times a week, with fewer but meaningful matches, and the schedule structure will be regionalized to limit the amount of travel.
“We started the Development Academy to improve player development on all levels, and adding a competitive structure to the U13/U14 age group is an important next step in this long-term process,” said Tony Lepore, Development Academy Director of Scouting. “The U13/U14 age group is at a very crucial stage in their development. Applying the overall philosophy of the Academy to the U13/U14 age group will allow us to continue to shift the focus of the young elite player to meaningful training and competition.”