As we begin a new seasonal year August 1st, TN Soccer will be debuting a new Player Development Program (PDP). Previously, the Olympic Development Program (ODP) had encompassed all of TN Soccer's player development efforts. Going forward, ODP will be a part of PDP, but PDP will include many aspects outside of traditional ODP.
INCREASING SIZE OF PDP POOLS AND LENGTH OF CALENDAR
Some of the changes to our player development initiatives will affect all age groups, while others will be more specific based on the age of the players involved. One example of overall changes is the expansion of the size and length of time our player pools in all age groups have opportunities to participate within the program. For example, in previous years, our U16 girls (2002 birth year) would enter fall 2017 with the plan of identifying the top 20-24 players to participate in training sessions and inter-regional events with the goal of selecting 18 players by the end of February who would represent TN ODP at Region III Camp in July 2018 at Montevallo, AL. Under our new format, we will plan to keep 36 players involved in the State Pool and in addition to Region III camp, there will other PDP events that will continue through the summer of 2018.
ELIMINATING CLUB VS ODP CONFLICTS
By increasing the number of players involved in each of our State Pools, we will be able to eliminate the previous practice of Mandatory Attendance at Player Development events. At TN Soccer, we do not want to put our players in the position of having to choose between a club event and a PDP event. Players who are injured or participating in an event with their club teams AND notify our staff of conflicts in advance will be excused from the events. Please note that this does not extend to conflicts caused by playing other sports or other non-soccer events. Ultimately, our goal is that the players will WANT to attend the PDP events and if they don't attend, other players may get an additional developmental opportunity that they might not have otherwise.
In previous years, our Player Development Efforts in Tennessee pertaining to U12 players has consisted of a weekend camp near the end of the seasonal year (currently June in Chattanooga). This camp has been first come, first served and limited in the numbers it can serve. While this program has been popular, it is our goal to offer a much more robust opportunity to our U12 players throughout Tennessee. Towards that end, beginning in June we will offer a comprehensive U12 program which will allow us to play a more substantial role in player development at this important age. The U12 age group has been identified as a particularly important one at US Soccer. It is the age group where US Soccer's Developmental Academy (US Soccer DA) begins, and we at TSSA agree that it is an appropriate age for us to expand our program offerings.
This U12 program will offer a 37-week program that will be operated primarily on a local basis throughout the districts of our state. There will be four 8 week components, with a local District Training Center (DTC) being offered in each district every two weeks within each component. In addition to these 4 components and their 16 DTC's, we will also hold a 5 week futsal component over the winter months which will include 2 additional DTC's. All told these 18 local training opportunities will makeup TSSA's most extensive Player Development Initiative to date. The cost for the DTC's will be $20 per player.
An integral step in the development of this initiative is the formalization of the partnership between TSSA and Nashville SC. Nashville SC is debuting Professional Soccer in Tennessee in the USL starting in the spring of 2018. They are a valued partner in our Player Development initiatives and have chosen to partner directly in this U12 program. With the support of NSC CEO Court Jeske, their new Head Coach and Technical Director, Gary Smith, has been working closely with TSSA to develop the curriculum for this program. NSC is also sponsoring the second stage of this U12 program, specifically, centralized training camps in Nashville. At the end of each 8 week component, Nashville SC will provide a Training Center for players selected throughout that 8 week session at our DTC's. Those players invited will attend a session hosted by NSC and TSSA free of charge. The only expenses incurred by these players will be travel. This opportunity to partner with our State's Professional Soccer Organization and offer a program which will reduce the cost and travel of participants is unprecedented, and is a proud and defining moment for the future of TSSA and our Player Development Program.
U13 & U14 PROGRAM
For the coming seasonal year there are some changes which will be targeted at the U13 & U14 age groups specifically. Previously in ODP, each of our age groups operated on a very similar schedule. This schedule was compressed to make sure not to conflict with High School Soccer for our older age groups. Most of our U13 & U14 players are not impacted by High School soccer. For us to limit their schedule in this regard is counter-productive. Instead, we will take more time and offer more sessions for players in these age groups. Also, we will offer local training opportunities for these players with additional sessions offered periodically as a part of our U12 DTC's. Additionally, we will offer PDP events in addition to Region III ODP Camp which will extend into the summer months. We do not want the program to end for players because of their inability to afford Regional Camp.
U15, U16 & U17 PROGRAM
These High School and ODP age groups are the most difficult due to our greatly compressed schedules. The changes in our scouting & identification efforts will likely have the biggest impact on the program in these age groups. We will also offer a few additional sessions as a part of our U12 DTC's during each applicable season (Boy's Fall, Girl's Spring). Programming will also extend into the summer for players unable or unwilling to attend Region III ODP Camp. Additionally, we will add in a more robust College ID Component to positively impact our players in these age groups.
As we move forward, we also plan to expand our offerings to include developmental opportunities for our U18 & U19 players, and possibly even U23's. We will pass along these details as they are finalized.
IN CONCLUSION, we are confident that these changes and additions to our programs will allow us to be premier in our player development initiatives. The August DTC's will be active and open for registration by Friday Afternoon, July 28th so please check back and get signed up! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
DATES FOR U12 PROGRAM
DATES FOR U13-U17 PROGRAM
Director of Player Development