Over the past several years, U.S. Soccer Development Director Jill Ellis noticed a trend — more than 50 percent of the Youth National Team players were coming from Region IV, the far western region of US Youth Soccer that includes Washington Youth Soccer and 13 other state associations. Specifically, Ellis noted the high numbers of Washington players that were coming to the National Team training camps from outside the traditional leagues and pathways used to identify players.
So, for the first time, Washington Youth Soccer — and other state associations in Region IV — will send players to a unique U.S. Soccer event designed to showcase the as-yet unidentified rising stars of Region IV. Each state was asked to identify up to two players per age group from to attend the four-day camp at no expense to the player, July 5-8 in Ojai, Calif., with the goal of selecting roughly 16 total players per age group. To be eligible, a player must not have ever attended a National Team camp before.
“This as an opportunity to expand the Youth National Team pool or revisit a player who has shown significant improvement,” says Kim Calkins, the Director of Programs at Washington Youth Soccer, who oversees the state's Elite Player Development program.
The new, innovative event will give these players the chance to be evaluated by U.S. Soccer staff for possible addition to the Youth National Team program. In addition, state Directors of Coaching will attend to have the chance to evaluate their own players in what should be a highly competitive environment.