Grand Rapids, MI – We are excited to announce a major step for the future of the club. Grand Rapids Football Club will be adding a youth academy system from ages U15 – U19.
GRFC Director of Operations, Pedro Sanchez commented: “As you look at clubs that have a long history of success, you’ll see a strong developmental system. A key mission of GRFC has always been to utilize homegrown talent. For example, we can look at Brandon Bye or Bethany Balcer who are doing some amazing things in the MLS and NWSL. Jared Timmer is in the USL Championship and Maddie Pogarch is also in the NWSL. All of whom were local talent and came through GRFC. I think this move will give local players a clear pathway to pro & high level play, without affecting their college eligibility if they decide to go that route post high school. We look forward to working with local clubs to allow their top players a chance to showcase their talent.”
This is a revolutionary league where players can play, train, sign a contract to play among professionals without affecting their college eligibility or club status. In the past, many young American players have been ready to test themselves by competing against professionals, but were limited in their ability to do so for fear of sacrificing their collegiate eligibility. The structure of USL Academy contracts directly addresses this issue.
“This is a huge first step for the club from both a youth and senior team perspective.” said GM, Joe Broekhuizen. “This partnership will allow players to compete against the best competition in the region. Teams will be formed from the best players in our entire city across multiple clubs and local coaches will be selected as well. From a senior team standpoint, it will continue the stream of local talent that has fueled our success since day 1. It will also allow players from all clubs to develop alongside each other on one club while representing their own individual teams and promoting the soccer city that is Grand Rapids.”
Grand Rapids FC front office has been working behind the scenes connecting with local area clubs in advance of this announcement. PASS Director of Coaching, Matt Galloway had these comments regarding the GRFC USL Academy announcement: “PASS FC is excited to see the continued growth of soccer quality in the Grand Rapids area. The USL academy with GRFC will offer players the opportunities to grow and be exposed to a professional environment in addition to their current club setting. We are in full support of this exciting opportunity!”
In the coming months, Grand Rapids FC will continue to meet with local clubs and explain the partnership opportunities to those within the GRFC Youth Network.
About The USL:
The United Soccer League (USL) is the largest and fastest-growing professional soccer organization in North America, possessing more than a decade of experience in bringing the world’s game to communities across the United States and Canada. Overseeing the USL Championship (USSF Division II), USL League One (USSF Division III), and USL League Two (Pre-Professional), the organization is built on a proven and recognized model in international football and counts more than 125 clubs in its membership.