RICHMOND, VA – (Wednesday, November 27, 2013) – The Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers are pleased to introduce Richmond United, a collaborative cost-free U.S. Soccer Development Academy program designed to serve the most talented players in the region. Marking the first time in U.S. Soccer Development Academy history that two member clubs have united their respective Academy programs, the landmark milestone in Virginia youth soccer is reached through a unified vision and youth development philosophy.
The Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers will be hosting membership-only informational meetings on December 2. The Richmond Kickers meeting will be held at the Aquatic Center, Ukrop Park at 8 p.m. while the Richmond Strikers meeting will be held at Deep Run Recreation Center, 9910 Ridgefield Pkwy. Henrico, VA 23233 at 6 p.m. Additionally, the two clubs will jointly host a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, January 11 at 5 p.m. at the Oates Theater, The Collegiate School located at 103 N. Mooreland Road, Richmond, VA 23229. The Town Hall meeting is open to anyone in the community who wishes to learn more about this exciting new partnership, as well as U.S. Soccer Federation’s long term plan for their Development Academy.
“We are excited to collaborate with the Richmond Strikers on this new initiative,” commented Rob Ukrop, Richmond Kickers President, Board of Directors. “By uniting our club’s players and sharing resources, we have created the perfect player development environment for Richmond’s best players. The Richmond United brand will be consistent with the Kickers current player development model, enabling our top boys players to compete with the best clubs in the country, while continuing to benefit from potential professional team opportunities in the future.”
"This is a great opportunity for our two nonprofit organizations to work together to further our missions by providing the most promising male soccer players in the Richmond area in these age groups with the opportunity, regardless of financial means, to train and compete at the national level,” added John Mumford, Richmond Strikers Chairman, Board of Directors.
With over 50 years of combined operational experience and unassailable reputations for success on and off the field, the Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers will build upon the tradition of player development that is respected both regionally and nationally. The mission of the newly formed Richmond United is to provide the most comprehensive player development environment in Virginia.
“The Richmond United Academy is a unique initiative that allows two professionally run academy clubs to collaborate on best practices in the areas of youth development and coaching methodology. This initiative provides a platform for the very best players, within the Richmond community, to collectively compete in the nationally recognized U.S. Soccer Development Academy, added Michael Milazzo, Richmond Strikers Academy Director.”
Slated to begin play in the fall of 2014, Richmond United will field U13/14, U15/16 and U17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams and will be led by one of the highest caliber, licensed technical staffs in the country, including Ihor Dotsenko, Leigh Cowlishaw, Jay Howell and Michael Milazzo. The teams will train and play home games at two of the top soccer specific complexes in the nation, Ukrop Park and Striker Park.
Through the support of strategic partnerships and multiple donors, the Richmond United U14, U16 and U18 Academy players will not be required to pay traditional player fees, and all hotel, flight and ground transportation expenses associated with league travel will be covered by the clubs. Valued at $30,000 for a six-year player, this cost-free Academy eliminates the most significant barrier for talented soccer players to compete in U.S. Soccer’s world-class program.
“Richmond United’s vision is simple - establish one Academy and attract the region's best players by creating an inspirational development environment that will allow the players to train together and represent Richmond against the nation’s finest teams,” explained Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “Richmond United will be fully funded so that players will have the opportunity to develop at the highest level, regardless of financial needs.”
Richmond United Academy Talent ID Weekends
Talent ID weekends will be held January 25-26 at Ukrop Park, February 15-16 at Striker Park and March 15 at City Stadium. Players interested in joining the Richmond United Academy should send the following information: player's name, date of birth and a detailed playing history and references, to Michael Milazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers Academy teams can select an additional eight players prior to April 7, 2014.
Current Academy players on the Richmond Kickers and Richmond Strikers teams will be evaluated on an ongoing basis in training, games and combined training sessions.
About the U.S. Soccer Development Academy
U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players.