Philadelphia Union has created a long term youth development partnership with YSC, naming YSC as it's Official Youth Development Partner. YSC and the Philadelphia Union have created an innovative youth development model for the region's top players ages 8-18. The Union/YSC Model is unlike any youth soccer development program in the United States, providing free training and competition opportunities for elite youth players under a "club-neutral" format.
"We have a deep passion for developing youth and the model that we've created with our partners is extremely innovative, collaborative and barrier-free for every player and every club," said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of Philadelphia Union. "We felt it is more important to work with the existing youth soccer infrastructure than compete with it in order to add value and inspiration to the players and partner clubs."
The Union/YSC Model provides the Philadelphia region's most talented youth "a path to PPL Park" and the opportunity to pursue the dream of professional soccer. In April of 2010, Step I, the YSC Union Juniors program (ages 8-12), was launched. The program has been an overwhelming success with over 550 of the area's top youth players receiving training at YSC. In November of 2010, the Union and YSC launched Steps II & III of their youth academy program, providing free of cost training via Union Juniors Academy (ages 13-14) and Union Youth Academy (ages 15-18). The unique program enables Philadelphia Union and YSC to work in conjunction with local youth clubs to share in the process of developing players. The club-neutral format enables gifted youth players to remain registered and playing with their local club teams while receiving free supplemental training and competition opportunities when "called up" to represent Philadelphia Union.
Perhaps the most innovative element of the Union/YSC Model is Step III the Union Academy for ages 15-18. In this critical phase, YSC/Union have formed a Youth Development Affiliation program open to all clubs in the Union's home territory that meet certain technical criteria (i.e., coaching staff qualifications, curriculum plan design, etc.). The founding Youth Development Affiliate clubs include both U.S. Soccer Development Academies (FC DELCO, PA Classics, and PDA) and non U.S. Development Academy clubs (Lehigh Valley United, Penn Fusion and YMS). This unique program provides selected players a direct and authentic link to the professional game, while offering affiliate clubs oversight and guidance from the Union/YSC Technical Staff on player development best practices. As the final step before the pro game, the 15-18 age group is a critical phase for developing players and identifying who has the talent to make the leap to the pros.
"The aim of our program is two-fold," said Philadelphia Union Coach/Youth Team Coordinator John Hackworth. "First, we want to improve the soccer environment for all youth players in the Philadelphia area. Secondly, we want to create a realistic and progressive path for the elite players in this area. We feel like this partnership with YSC and our affiliate clubs will enable us to begin the long-term process of creating a better learning environment for Philadelphia's young soccer players."
The fourth and final step of the program is a spot on either Philadelphia Union's First or Reserve Teams and/or one of their professional affiliate partners Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-PRO) or Reading United (PDL). For more information on YSC/Philadelphia Union's youth development model please contact Joe Levan at email@example.com.