CHARLESTON, S.C. (Sept. 15, 2016) - With an expansive reach of 22 leagues, about 300 clubs and nearly 2,000 teams across the country, it’s easy to forget that the 2016-17 National Premier Leagues (NPL) season is just the fifth season in its young history.
The training wheels have been off for some time. The structure is aged and proven.
While members are attracted to the consistent principles that the NPL – and US Club Soccer – touts, like club-driven leagues, appropriate governance and a plethora of opportunities (Players First, id², PDPs, etc.), there’s a healthy balance between business-as-usual and new dynamism in 2016-17.
NPL season previews schedule:
- Thursday, Sept. 15: Southeast
- Friday, Sept. 16: Northeast
- Monday, Sept. 19: Central
- Tuesday, Sept. 20: West
The latest hot topic is the Elite National Premier League (ENPL): a collaboration between US Club Soccer and the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) to create a new national competition platform for U-14 through U-18/19 boys. The ENPL will feature local and national regular-season competition, national showcases and a prestigious playoff structure.
While the ENPL officially kicks off in August 2017, the preparations are underway. When the league launches, there will be effects on the NPL. Generally, the ENPL will strengthen member NPLs around the country, as it provides an aspiration for qualification to the ENPL.
But, back to the 2016-17 NPL season, where 22 leagues will enjoy a competitive slate of regular season competition that eventually culminates with the 2017 NPL Finals. The dates and location of the Finals will be announced in the coming days.
The NPL will also host its third annual NPL Showcase, Dec. 29-31 in Palm Coast, Fla. Last year, more than 70 top NPL girls teams participated in the event designed to bring quality competition and college coaches to the same venue. This season, the showcase will feature three age groups: 98s/99s, 00s and 01s. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1.
Here are four NPLs in the South(ish):
Another founding league member of the NPL, the Florida NPL includes 14 clubs in the U-13 through U-18 boys and girls age groups. New this season is a minor name change – and snazzy logo – from Florida Premier League to Florida NPL.
This league continues to be a strong, consistent support of PDPs and the annual NPL Showcase. Last year, FC Florida 01/02 Elite Blue NPL represented the league at the 2016 NPL Finals U-14 girls championship game.
Gulf States Premier League
The Gulf States Premier League began in May 2011 and also includes the full gauntlet of NPL Finals qualifying age groups – U-13 through U-18 boys and girls. Eleven clubs spanning Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi comprise the league.
The Gulf States Premier League will host an upcoming PDP, Oct. 29 in Jackson, Miss. In accordance with the targeted age groups for the current id² cycle, this PDP will feature 2003 boys and 2002-03 girls.
New this year is an expansion that welcomes a second division of competition.
South Atlantic Premier League
The South Atlantic Premier League has welcomed three new clubs ahead of the 2016-17 season: AFC Lightning (Ga.), Charlotte United (N.C.) and Wake FC (N.C.).
The league began its fall season last month with newcomer Wake FC at the top of the standings in most age groups. The North Carolina-based club is 8-1-2 through all its games so far.
The Virginia NPL is another league that took advantage of the Players First opportunity to host a LaLiga Formation Methodology course, as it brought 125 coaches from 27 clubs to the event.
Virginia NPL is also active in hosting PDP opportunities for its members. Its first PDP was held in Feb. 2015, and the league has since hosted numerous PDPs.
Ten clubs compete in U-13 through U-18 boys and girls divisions with top performers from the regular season advancing to the NPL Finals.
ABOUT US CLUB SOCCER:
A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible development environment for players of all ages.
Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.
US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike and supported by LaLiga through a technical partnership.