Spanish giants Valencia CF and Seattle's own Eagleclaw FC have inked a partnership that brings the Valencia Discovery Program (VDP) to Seattle. For now, the program is unique to Seattle and Washington state, but the partnership agreement designates Eagleclaw FC as lead club for developing a network of VDP clubs in partnership with like-minded and capable youth soccer clubs across the United States.
The VDP is a long-term development program that aims to identify and develop the next generation of American youth players with the ambition and talent to progress to higher levels of soccer learning and competition . The ultimate goal is to bring American players to the Valencia youth academy in Spain.* However, the quality of the soccer education, training environment and experiences will prepare players for alternative opportunities abroad or for possibilities with MLS academies and college soccer programs.
This requires a club-focused, performance-driven pathway that is significantly different than the league-driven options currently available in the U.S., such as US Soccer's Development Academy (DA) and the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL.). The DA and ECNL are essentially leagues where players are selected to participating teams by the youth club staff. The DA has experienced significant drops in participation, largely due to its heavy-handed, restrictive approach to player development that over-professionalizes youth soccer. Deeply flawed, the DA experience creates large numbers of unhappy players who leave the program or quit soccer altogether.
The VDP, on the other hand, offers a completely different paradigm, one focused on providing a holistic soccer education focused on intelligence and a positive training environment. Critical to the mission of VDP is preserving the players' joy and passion for the game, which is so important for ensuring players stay in the sport. As important is that while all training at Eagleclaw continues to be focused on a Spanish-inspired methodology, it will now be even more closely aligned with the methodology of the Valencia CF Youth Academy. Daily, weekly and monthly training plans for each age group will conform to the requirements of the Valencia CF youth academy, taking into account learning objectives and proper periodization. Unlike the DA, players on VDP teams may participate in outside activities such as school teams, training camps and futsal, such as Eagleclaw's year-round Futsal Academy.
The VDP is overseen by a Technical Manager appointed by Valencia CF. The Technical Manager oversees player tryouts, directs player selection to VDP teams and works closely with Eagleclaw's Technical Director and Director of Coaching regarding methodology and daily/weekly/monthly training schedules. The Technical Manager and the Seattle staff hold weekly video conferences to review player development, training sessions and review game film.
During the course of the season, VDP players will have the opportunity to participate in two mini-camps in Seattle led by Valencia CF coaches and scouts. VDP teams will have the opportunity to travel to Valencia in April of each year to train at the Valencia youth academy and participate in the Valencia Soccer Cup tournament.
The Valencia Development Program arrives as one of the most important talent development program for youth soccer players in Seattle. It represents a commitment by Valencia CF to fostering the identification and development of talented youth players in the Seattle area. It is also recognition of the major advancements Eagleclaw FC has made in improving the quality of youth player training through modern, Spanish-inspired methodologies. Together, Valencia CF and Eagleclaw FC are working to open a pathway to higher levels of development and competition in Spain and for the very top players, a career in soccer.
Players who are interested in trying out for the Valencia Discovery Program are encouraged to register on the mailing list by clicking here.