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Why Should Elite Youth Soccer Players Forego Playing NCAA Division I Soccer And Play Soccer Abroad?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

The simple answer to this question has to do with the structural inadequacy and inefficiency of our NCAA College Soccer system as a platform for the development of our best women-soccer-players. It produces athletic players whose technical skill and tactical knowledge leave much to be desired due to a comparative dearth of consistent training and competitive-game experience.


The U.S. System Produces Less Experienced Players – a Maximal, 16-Month Competitive Season in 4 Years for Most Players.

In the U.S., most of our elite women-soccer-players – to wit, Division I college players – generally undergo organized training and challenging matches during a three-(3)-month competitive season; namely, from the beginning of August until the end of October of a given year. If an elite player is lucky enough to be on a team that does well in the conference championships, her season is extended for another week-and-a-half until the first week of November of such year. And, ultimately, if she is lucky enough to be on a team that gets a playoff berth and reaches the College Cup semi-final or final, then her season is extended until the first week of December of such year, to wit, a maximum of (4) four months per year. (Usually, the College Cup semi-finals are on the last Friday of November of a given year, and the College Cup Final is on the first Sunday of December of a given year.) Such elite player would play a maximal, 16-month competitive season in four (4) years if she were lucky to be on stellar teams during each of those years.

In soccer, like in most sports, competitive experience is paramount. Indeed, soccer is like golf. It is a sport that is highly technical, in which player-development emanates from repetitive and consistent training daily and from playing, at least, one highly competitive match each week. Yet, in the U.S., during the remaining eight (8) to nine (9) months of such elite player's year (except for a few weeks of spring training), our elite, Division I college-players are almost exclusively students whom are working arduously - studying a myriad of subjects that consume an inordinate amount of time each day - in order to earn a college degree. Soccer is not their main focus during this eight-to-nine-month period. Indeed, the NCAA, the regulator of college athletics, wants these players to be students, not athletes, for eight months of the year. Consequently, after four years of college, the total sum of consistent training and competitive matches that an elite U.S. player receives amounts to about twelve (12) months, or a maximal period of sixteen (16) months in the best-case scenario. This is reprehensibly astounding, but true. (Given the likelihood of injury or lack of playing time in Division I college-soccer, it is likely to be less than sixteen months in five years if an elite player is forced to redshirt due to injury.)

The European System Produces More Experienced Players – A Maximal, 44-Month Competitive Season in 4 Years for Most Players.

In Europe, elite, youth female-soccer-players are exposed to professional soccer in Europe’s best leagues from an early age. Usually, an elite, youth soccer player in Europe is playing professional soccer - whether it be in Division III or in Division II - when they are only sixteen (16), seventeen (17), or eighteen (18) years of age. By the time that they reach nineteen (19) years of age, such players are most likely playing Division I soccer in Europe's top leagues, such as the Liga Primera Iberdrola (Spain), Bundesliga Frauen (Germany), Le Championnat (France) Some study, part-time, while playing professional soccer; others just focus on training and being professional soccer players. Rather than spending most of their time studying non-soccer subjects in school, soccer is their principal focus. They study soccer primarily and become students of the game.

Comparatively, the competitive season in Europe lasts about ten (10) months, to wit, from the first week of September of a given year until the second or third week of June of a given year. (Usually, an elite player will get a paid-holiday of (30) thirty days in July and will return for preseason in August of a given year.) And, in stark contrast to U.S. players, an elite youth-soccer-player in Europe will play competitively for forty-four (44) months (including the preseason) during the same four-year period during which an elite, American player will play Division I college-soccer. During such time, not only are these European teenagers making money (while our American players are studying and trying to get an education), but, most importantly, they are getting valuable professional experience in Europe’s top leagues.

It does not take a rocket-scientist to figure out who will be the more competitive player after four years of development. Obviously, the European player – with (44) forty-four months of serious training and match-play – will be more experienced (and, hence, more competitive technically and tactically) than her American counterpart, who will only have (12) months of competitive soccer experience in the same four-year period. Voilá the comparatively defective aspect of the U.S. system of using Division I college-soccer as a platform for the development of elite, youth-soccer-players. As a result, a Division I college-soccer player places herself in a competitive disadvantage compared to her European counterpart by going to a university to play college soccer instead of going to Europe to play professional soccer. This ought to be priceless insight for those elite, female-soccer players in the U.S. whose sole objective is to become professional women-soccer-players.


The O.R.T.A. Professional Soccer Academy Is the "Pathway to Europe" for Our Elite Female-Soccer Players Who Wish to Become Professional Players Instead of NCCA Student Athletes.

The O.R.T.A. Professional Soccer Academy ("Academy") seeks elite female-soccer players (mainly, between the ages of sixteen (16) and twenty-two (22)) that are outstanding, resilient, technical, athletic soccer players. In particular, the Academy caters to NCAA Division I college soccer players who wish to leave school early to turn professional and prepare for a professional soccer career in Europe. If your sole objective is to become a professional soccer player as your trade or career, come join us at the Academy. Our fitness training, technical training, and tactical instruction is par excellence. We will not only train you and prepare you for the adversity, the challenges, and the obstacles that you will face in Year 1 of your career, but also obtain a contract for you in a European soccer club that is a good fit for you, one in which you will continue to develop technically and tactically. Our Academy is the sole "Pathway to Europe" for elite, youth, female-soccer players who wish to turn professional and by-pass becoming an NCAA Division I college soccer student-athlete.

Copyright (2018) Rafael A. Castro, III


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