Fourteen youth programs throughout the state of Florida are planning to form the “Florida Academy League” for U12 boys competition, according to coordinated statements released last week. Programs that confirmed their participation include local names Kendall SC and The Miami FC’s NPSL foe, Jacksonville Armada. According to multiple statements, Major League Soccer sides Orlando City and Inter Miami CF will be including their U12 programs as well.
Last year, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program announced that it would be abandoning its U12 academy system and returning development responsibilities to clubs themselves, with a standards-based system to track player development. With this void, Florida’s top-tier programs have decided to band together and form their own league.
“Zone 1 grassroots is the foundation of a successful youth academy,” said league director of operations Sean Carey in a statement. “We are confident that the creation of the Florida Academy League will provide the most challenging and organized competitive environment for U12 players in Florida.”
— Kendall Soccer Club (@KendallSC_USSDA) March 5, 2019
While Inter Miami CF has not yet confirmed its participation, Chargers SC of Tampa Bay includes a quote from Victor Pastora, a youth coach for Inter and a longtime coach for Weston FC (which is also a league member according to the league’s website).
“Creating the best environment for the advancement of talented 12-and-under players in South Florida is our priority, and the creation of the Florida Academy league will allow us to compete in a high-level, well-organized setting,” Pastora is quoted as saying in a statement. “At Inter Miami CF, we are grateful for the opportunity to join the Florida Academy League and look forward to contributing to its success.”
Fall 2019 is the scheduled kickoff for the league.