By: Eric Ridgeway Fulton
Welcome & Community
These last few weeks have been an important time for us. In addition to our Fall campaigns getting underway with the start of tryouts, we’ve had our first official U19 2018-2019 training sessions. While the U19 squad is still in its formative stages, the program represents an important step forward for our club’s trajectory. We want to welcome the players, leadership, and families to the broader FC Denver family. We also want to express to the rest of our community why this is an important step for us and why it deserves your support. Long before the creation of the U19’s, we’ve been committed to an inclusive and unified club culture, and this desire only deepens now.
First, for those new to our club, we consider our community a soccer family. Our desire is to one day make this a full life (Aged 2 – 65+) Denver soccer community and this is an integral, if early, step in that direction. We are committed to creating a competitive, dynamic, and continually advancing teams within a larger framework of a shared humanistic community. Everything we do, we do together. We wear the same crest and represent the same culture each training and match day.
With the creation of the U19 program, we are looking to simultaneously fulfill two distinct needs, one for the club, namely creating a club player pipeline and another a perceived need of the market, of creating an additional elite and player-centered professional development pathway.
Prior to the formation of this program, exceptionally talented 17-19-year-old players trying out for our Open teams would routinely get overlooked through a systemic lack of foresight. We held tryouts to fulfill roster needs for that specific season, so young players, often with loads of talent, hunger, and potential, would often get left out as they couldn’t offer as much (in the short term) as their more experienced, and more physically mature, roster competition. While we realized that we were missing out on the possibility of developing and retaining future prospects, this approach was a necessity given we didn’t yet have the infrastructure to create a proper developmental program. With the exceptional program leadership and U19 coaches we’ve brought on-board this year, we now have the infrastructure and experience to create a pipeline for players to experience elite soccer development. We expect to promote players on to college programs and/or other professional-track soccer opportunities, while realizing that some may form a core group of future semi-pro FC Denver teams.
We believe there is an external need for this program as well. This program is taking a fresh approach at fulfilling a unique niche in US Soccer. In a country as big as ours, with the conglomeration of large soccer clubs effectively controlling the youth soccer market, we see an opportunity to create an elite development program that is centered on the needs of the individual player & family. Where the player is more than another player on another team, but a vital member of a community. In any city, there are very few spots available on DA Programs, while there are hundreds of elite and motivated players which are either left out or which have simply chosen a different path. We look to provide an elite development home for these players.
Your Support for U19 Player Assistance Fund
We are committed to doing our part to provide opportunities for players regardless of their, and their families, financial situations. Forming a youth/young men’s team requires an increased financial outlay (paid coaches, multiple weekly Spring practices, etc) than adult teams, even before the realization of providing financial support for those players come into play. That said, the ability to provide deserving players a place to continue to grow their game is of paramount importance to the mission of our U19 program. This is where we’re requesting the support of our community, by donating to help us create a U19 player assistance fund that will be used to allow deserving players, otherwise without the financial means for involvement, to be included in the program (LINK TO DONATION PAGE).
There are two immediate options to help:
– For our current players, all of our Men’s Open (Premier & United) and O30 Teams (Masters & Legends) are participating in this Sunday’s first ever FC Denver Interclub Charity Tournament. We are asking our players to bring a donation (suggested amount: $10, but any amount large or small helps) to help support the on our new U19 players and families. The tournament will take place this Sunday (August 19th) from 4pm-7pm at Northfield High School. Look for additional details.
– For others interested in supporting this mission, you can make a donation on our website (LINK TO DONATION PAGE), which is tax-deductible and will go directly to supporting the U19 player assistance fund.
We are thrilled to be taking this next step forward in building the elite grassroots soccer community that we are all proud to create and support. Thank you!