U.S. Soccer Continues to Enhance the Professional Development of Football in the United States with Girls’ Development Academy Directors Course

  • Fifteen Girls Academy Directors and four U.S. Soccer Club Development Managers successfully concluded the first edition of the Girls Academy Director Course

  • Aim is to enable candidates to further develop their knowledge and skills necessary to work as an Academy Director in a youth development environment

  • The course included an invaluable exchange of experiences in England as candidates had the opportunity to learn from Women’s Technical Directors from Manchester City F.C., Birmingham City F.C. and The FA

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), with the support of the FIFA Forward Development Programme, recently organised the first edition of the Girls Academy Director Course geared to meet the high demands and standards of leading a youth women’s football academy which serves for the development of players from 13 to 19 years old. In total, 15 Academy Directors and four U.S. Soccer Club Development Managers successfully concluded the first edition of the Girls Academy Director Course.

Among many different aspects, the course incorporated best practices on how to develop an academy philosophy that is aligned with the club culture, allowing its actors to implement a talent development plan, lead coaches and support their staff, liaise with internal and external stakeholders and stimulate innovations and ongoing improvement regarding the player’s pathway, crucial for football’s success.

Using both practical and theoretical components, the participants were further encouraged to develop their own vision on football, players’ development, coaching and leadership during the course. Additionally, the participants met with U.S. Soccer High Performance experts to learn best practices in order to implement Sports Science, Sports Medicine, and Performance Analysis in their local context and tackling the daily challenges of their job. The candidates could learn as well from some of the most experienced individuals in European football: the course included a trip to England that allowed the participants to absorb and interact with representatives from both English clubs and the FA.

Among many other components, the role of an Academy Director requires the boost of leadership in all aspects of developing youth players in an academy environment. Becoming the best in this position plays an essential role for coaches and girl's development alike. For the former, it provides all the elements and support to plan effectively their daily work, increase awareness on individual and collective players’ needs and also impart fundamentals properly, whilst for the girls, it makes a positive impact not only on their football-specific talents to become a top class player but it also helps them to embrace important life skills and values like self-confidence, self-esteem, teamwork, discipline, among others.

Through the use of instructors and mentors, the participants were also guided and provided with the necessary feedback allowing them to take initiative in the process. With the implementation of such programmes, girls’ youth football will keep growing allowing the game to become more professional and innovative based on the great sporting success that have been achieved by the US so far.

Carlos Cordeiro, U.S. Soccer President expressed his satisfaction: “We are very grateful to FIFA for their continued support of our Girls’ Development Academy Directors Course through the FIFA Forward program. Our joint investment in the future of girls' and women’s football demonstrates our shared commitment to growing the game at all levels and for all people”.

In 2018, the world governing body, through its FIFA Forward Development Programme, had already partnered with U.S. Soccer to implement several projects to further enhance football development in the United States. With the implementation of this project, FIFA Forward confirms its strong commitment and ambition to work alongside the USSF with the purpose of leaving a long-lasting legacy for girls and women’s football across the North American country.


‘The course has given me an overwhelming amount of new knowledge that I was able to share with my colleagues to create better programming for the girls in the club.’

Mo Gonda - United Football Academy

‘The last 12-13 months have been brilliant, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the course. I received lots of positive reinforcement, and guidance, as well as the opportunity to work on some things that I had been trying to implement within our club for a while.’

Paul O’Brien - Placer United SC

‘Taking part in the Academy Director Course allowed me to reflect on the culture we had in our club and be innovative when creating our new strategic plan. We have added many initiatives which will benefit the players’ development.‘

Tiffany Roberts - Utah Royals AZ