NPL Roundup spotlight: Florida Premier League

Florida Premier League schedules/standings | nationalpremierleagues.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (March 16, 2015) - Created as a founding member when the National Premier Leagues (NPL) launched in 2011, the Florida Premier League has since mirrored the growth of the NPL.

“It’s hard to believe a few years back we only had five clubs in the inaugural season,” Eric Dade, Jacksonville FC Executive Director, said. “Today, we’re at 12 of the state’s top youth organizations all with the same goal of player development.”

The Florida Premier League grew as the NPL did, and with a strong footprint in the region, the mission is all about quality over quantity. Like Dade’s Jacksonville FC, Tampa Bay United Executive Director Eric Sims has watched the league grow as one of its founding clubs.

RELATED: Six clubs from Florida Premier League boast 101 college commitments

“The main focus for us is trying to get quality games in a club setting. The NPL gives us an ideal scenario to achieve that,” Sims said. “Then for the league to expand, and for us as a club to have input, it’s important. We’ve added quality clubs, so the level hasn’t dropped. When you grow, sometimes the quality is affected, but that’s not been the case.”

The Florida Premier League includes competitive programming for U-13 through U-18 boys and girls age groups. Slots to the NPL Finals are determined by regular season points totals.

  • Boca United/South Florida United Soccer Academy
  • Kendall SC
  • Chargers SC
  • Orlando City Youth Soccer
  • FC America
  • Space Coast United
  • Florida Kraze Krush
  • Tampa Bay United
  • IMG Academy
  • West Florida Flames
  • Jacksonville FC
  • Weston FC

The Florida Premier League has a proven blueprint for achieving optimal player development. “Too many times, we see clubs focus only on the team within the club that wins,” Dade said. “With the Florida Premier League’s recommended mandate of having a team in every age group, this changes our focus to overall club development – which ultimately forces the clubs to value each age group and gender.”

When US Club Soccer announced plans last year to expand its Player Development Program (PDP) by offering a greater frequency of training opportunities to multiple age groups, it looked to the Florida Premier League to spearhead the campaign. The outcome was four PDP events held throughout Florida over the course of a year to players spanning U-13 through U-18 age groups, ultimately resulting in a better developmental and identification impact. Preparations have already been made for this year’s round of expanded PDPs in Florida, as well as the Midwest.

“Our Florida PDPs have really been that of a success. Club directors and coaches have embraced the PDP concept,” Dade said, adding the amount of recommendations and attendance at each event has been impressive. “Club leaders who track their players’ development are part of the equation, which is key. Player development takes place at many speeds, and who better to track this then its club leaders.”

Sims added that the benefits extend just club directors and coaches. “Anytime our players can go and see the best players in the state altogether at once, they can look at themselves and see what they need to work on and kind of gauge where they are as a player,” he said. “They may be the best player on their team, but they may have a long way to go. When you pull the best players, that’s huge for the developmental process.”

While player development is the primary goal, a chance to compete at the NPL Finals is a major incentive. “Anytime you can play for a championship is huge,” Sims said. “Again, just getting out of the area is so important. Different teams play different styles, especially in different regions of the country. It all goes into the developmental process of challenging the players. For our club to come away with one (a national championship), it’s a huge achievement.”

“The NPL Finals have become recognized and credible,” Dade added. “Anytime you have a chance to be a national champion, it’s special as a player, team and club. It’s a prize that can never be taken away.”

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ABOUT US CLUB SOCCER:

A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer is an organization committed to the development and support of soccer clubs in the United States.

US Club Soccer offers youth and adult registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms at the recreational and competitive levels, as well as a variety of other programming, including the Olympic Development Program-sanctioned id2 Program and Player Development Programs.

Through US Club Soccer, all of a club’s programs – recreational, competitive and adult – are able to be united under one organizational umbrella, creating a “members for life” culture within each club. US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike.

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