RICHMOND, VA - (Saturday, March 23, 2013) - Through the collaboration of three VCCL and U.S. Soccer Development Academy members, the VA Premier League has been established to provide a high level of competition and a professional, player-centric environment designed to enhance player development at all levels. Founding members Chesapeake United, Chesterfield United, Richmond Kickers, Richmond Strikers and Virginia Rush are slated to begin play in the newly created, club-format league in the fall 2013.
"The Richmond Strikers are very pleased to be a founding member of this new league, commented Bob Jenkins, Richmond Strikers Technical Director. “The VA Premier League represents club collaboration at its best with the expressed goal of establishing a competitive environment for our players that fosters real development."
With enhanced flexibility within age groups and playing opportunities for larger player pools in the younger age groups, the VA Premier League will be at the forefront of player development.
"We here at the Rush are very excited about the formation and direction of the new VA Premier League,” said Jay Hoffman, Virginia Rush Academy Director. “We feel that this direction is what is best for the development of both our players and the game in the community. It has been, and will continue to be, great working with the respective Technical Directors of our membership. Their vision, work ethic and commitment are only going to assure that this league and its future will be dedicated to what is best for the game and its participants."
With a history of success in league play, Rush, Strikers, and Kickers have claimed a combined 18 VCCL Club Championships, with the Kickers winning the VCCL Club Championship the last three seasons (Spring 2011, Spring 2012, and Fall 2012). The three clubs finished in the top four in the fall, combining to win 12 out of 18 divisions. With the addition of Chesterfield United and Chesapeake United, the VA Premier League plans to maintain a competitive edge while immersing these two new clubs into the club-to-club league format. Each club will play a balanced home and away schedule, resulting in an eight game season.
"VA Premier League provides Chesapeake United with an excellent platform for our players to compete at the highest league level in the state,” explained Tony Nweke, Chesapeake United Director of Coaching. “Joining this league enhances the opportunity to meet our traditional objective to offer each player a chance to reach his or her highest potential."
The Technical Directors of the founding clubs boast incomparable resumes. As the former Director of Youth Development and Coaching Education for U.S. Soccer, Jenkins helped reevaluate and revise the Federation’s coaching school curriculum and the overall approach to coaching education, while also playing an key role in the creation of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy. Under Jenkins’ direction, U.S. Soccer created the "Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States”, the highly acclaimed player development guide for youth and junior level soccer coaches.
Jay Hoffman is currently a member of the U.S. Soccer National Staff for Coaching Education, as well as the Head Coach of the U.S. Paralympics Team. He claimed a World Cup title with the Women’s National Team in 1999 and acted as Head Coach of WUSA’s Boston Breakers before joining Virginia Rush in 2003.
An integral member of the Richmond Kickers franchise since the club’s inception in 1993, Cowlishaw has acted as Head Coach of the Kickers professional team since 2000. Compiling an overall record of 205-105-73 over 13 seasons, he has led the Kickers to six USL Championship appearances, claiming the USL crown twice. As a pro player, the USL Hall of Fame member helped the Kickers win the U.S. Open Cup and league titles in 1995 and has since led the team to four U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals and one semifinal appearance.
“When you look around the room, at the people who have played an integral part in putting this league together, you know you have a group with experience unequalled by any other league in Virginia,” commented Darren Warham, VA Premier League President. “Having people with countless years of coaching experience at every level of the game, from the youth ranks to professional teams and National teams, guys who have been trusted in developing and overseeing the licensing curriculum for the U.S. Soccer Federation, you know you have the right people looking out for the youth soccer players in Virginia.”
The VA Premier League is open to receiving applications from organizations who share the same philosophy, club structure and vision as its founding members. Organizations interested in becoming members should email Darren Warham, VA Premier League President at firstname.lastname@example.org.