TAMPA, Fla. - The inaugural USL Academy Cup, presented by PUMA, kicks off on Friday, May 28 and runs through Monday, May 31. As a multi-day event, it is important to offer more fun experiences off the field for players, coaches, families, and fans. Included in this year’s special experiences is a Technical Development Workshop, the Player Village, Referee Development Sessions, a Senior Team Game Day, and even a Social Media Contest.
The Technical Development Workshop is designed with a focus on driving dialogue around youth development within USL Pro pathways, and how best to bridge the gap between youth and professional soccer. USL Technical Director Liam O’Connell will introduce the event by discussing the future player development model for USL Academy and how this model will aim to assist USL clubs in accomplishing their missions. One high-performing pre-professional program will provide a case study on their full player pathway & developmental model, with PlayerMaker following to present its technology, a valuable resource for USL clubs that can be used to enhance youth development by providing in-depth data about player performance.
The event will conclude with breakout sessions, where those in attendance will have the chance to discuss relevant trends in player & coach development and significant shifts in the American youth soccer landscape. The Technical Development Workshop will take place virtually on Friday, May 28 from 7 PM - 9 PM (subject to change).
The Player Village will be a unique experience where players, fans, and families can spend time between games and have the opportunity to win prizes. The Player Village will be the location of the tournament headquarters and the USL Academy Cup merchandise store, presented by PUMA, and will also include various partner activations and special experiences from Veo, Playermaker, PUMA, and Cleer Audio. In addition, the USL Championship team Tampa Bay Rowdies will have a mobile video gaming set available.
An often overlooked area of soccer development, the Referee Development Sessions will help referees gain insight on game management and other aspects of one of the sport’s toughest jobs. After an orientation prior to the start of the tournament, the tournament’s referees will meet to review the day’s action and discuss how to improve moving forward.
“Referee development is an important and integral part of the game,” said USL Academy Operations Manager Ryan Spurr. “Field and classroom training, as well as game observation and review, will be part of the conference games. Each referee will receive feedback from national and regional referee coaches.”
Hosting these sessions at USL Academy events could pay dividends toward improving the quality of refereeing in American soccer, not just for the youth game in the present but for the professional level in the future. The Referee Development Sessions will take place at the conclusion of each game day.
The USL Academy Cup is also excited to host a USL League Two matchup between Tampa Bay United and Weston FC on the Championship Field at Hillsborough County Tournament SportsPlex. The match will kick off at 6 PM on Saturday, May 29, and will be a great opportunity for the USL Academy Cup participants to experience pre-professional soccer first-hand. Academy players will get the chance to see the connection between the USL Academy and the senior team level and possibly see some U17 players take the field for the USL League Two teams.
Teams participating in the USL Academy Cup will have the opportunity to compete in a social media contest for a chance to win various prizes and merchandise, with multiple contests held throughout the weekend for teams to compete in and an overall social media winner announced at the end of the tournament. The team with the best social media during the weekend will receive a shoutout on USL Academy Twitter page and a special prize.
The USL Academy Cup will provide attendees excitement both on and off the pitch through competitive games and the special events throughout the duration of the tournament. For more information on the upcoming Academy Cup, visit USL-Academy.com.