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Youth Boys Apr 25, 2016

WAGS, NCSL to join forces in bombshell youth soccer merger

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WASHINGTON – Two of the Mid-Atlantic’s oldest and largest youth soccer leagues will join forces beginning this fall, as the National Capital Soccer League and the Washington Area Girls Soccer League “have agreed to combine the league components of both organizations,” according to language in a press release obtained by which is set to drop on Monday afternoon.

Soccer Wire spoke to sources inside both organizations when rumors of a merger cropped up last week and obtained information about the development, though none could speak on the record due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations.

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Now both parties are ready to go public.

“Starting with the Fall 2016 season, member clubs will for the first time be able to register both girls and boys teams for play through the National Capital Soccer League, which will administer both leagues,” states the release.

“The National Capital Soccer League and WAGS have for years utilized the same fields, referees and scheduling software. But even though they shared many of the same resources, those resources were utilized in a parallel, often competitive manner. Recent leadership change in both organizations led to a more cooperative relationship and a recognition that players, coaches, teams, and clubs would be best served through a merger of league operations.”

For decades both WAGS and NCSL occupied dominant positions on the youth soccer landscape in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region, only to see their centrality fade as new organizations rose to prominence in a rapidly-evolving field. Monday’s news suggests a new realization that they can weather these storms more effectively together than in opposition.

“We are very excited about the future of NCSL and what the merger with WAGS and the addition of a new girls’ league will allow us to do for our member clubs,” said NCSL president Richard Smith. “NCSL has long been a premier boys league. With the addition of a girls league, coupled with our ties to the Region 1 Champions League and the expected addition of regionalized play, we believe we are well positioned to help our clubs develop players to the best of their potential.”

With a long history of producing future stars like Mia Hamm and Ali Krieger, WAGS – the oldest girls soccer league in the nation – is more than just a league competition, as it also supports the growth of the women’s game via support for the Washington Spirit professional team, international tours for all-star teams and beyond.

Sources within the league have stressed the value of this legacy and suggest that its leaders will continue and build upon that pioneering tradition.

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Another key factor: While many of these two leagues’ younger rivals are built around significant travel for matches, both WAGS and NCSL believe they can offer worthwhile competition without forcing parents to drive for hours and incur additional costs both financial and time-related.

“WAGS was created over 40 years ago through the vision of Mavis Derflinger. Mavis wanted to offer opportunities for girls to play in a format that wasn’t available at the time,” said WAGS president Sally D’Italia in the press release. “But her vision included a wider scope to include offering opportunities for players of all socio-economic standards, exposure to college coaches through the WAGS Rael Vodicka Tournament and supporting women’s soccer at the national and international level.

WAGS-40th-200“The WAGS leadership believes that this joint venture with the National Capital Soccer League will offer girls and young women the opportunity to play soccer at all levels and tailored to their needs and development. And we are excited that WAGS will continue as a separate entity and will now be able to expand on the educational and charitable components that have always been a part of our mission, but were oftentimes overlooked because of the emphasis on league play.”

Both leagues have scheduled meetings to inform their members about the details of the merger; WAGS will hold a special meeting on Monday, May 9 for club reps at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

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