After an 11-month hiatus, the FC Cincinnati Academy Discovery Program resumed on the first weekend of February, offering developmental training to high-performing players in the 2009-11 age groups.
The program, which debuted in Oct. 2019, is the start of the FC Cincinnati Academy’s elite player development pathway in an effort to both identify local youth talent and provide MLS-level education and training to local coaches and players.
Through the Discovery Program, players gain an understanding of what it takes to become an Academy Player within an MLS club. The curriculum used for the program mimics the sessions, playing style and culture of the Pre-Academy teams.
"When players start within the program, they often find it very challenging; mainly because we take them out of their comfort zone in which they might be used to,” U-13 head coach and Discovery Program lead Adrian Parrish said. “Throughout the eight plus weeks of training, it’s exciting to see some players start gaining an understanding of the style of play and become comfortable with our teaching philosophy. Young players develop at different rates and we understand that monitoring and working with these young, high-performing players is vital in building a solid foundation for the Academy program.”
As the FC Cincinnati Academy continues to grow, the Discovery Program has seen the number of players invited more than double. A total of 125 players from 25 different clubs and six different states will train once a week at the Mercy Health Training Center during this year’s session. In the inaugural session, the program consisted of 50 players from 10 different clubs in the Greater Cincinnati Area.
“It is really important to for us to network and be part of the soccer community within the Greater Cincinnati area as well as expand our scouting to other states,” explained Parrish. “Doing this helps raise the standards for everyone and we often comment how a rising tide lifts all boats. By inviting young players from out of the state, it helps put them on our radar and gives the local players an opportunity to train and compete with others that they may not have the opportunity to do so in their club environment.”
The Discovery Program has already started to pay dividends for the organization. Over half of the Pre-Academy (U-13 & U-14) rosters are comprised of players that participated in the program in the past.
Besides enriching a player’s development and showcasing the required skills, attributes and qualities needed to earn a place in an MLS academy, the program allows the FC Cincinnati academy to foster relationships with local clubs and coaches. The program invites local youth coaches to become involved and engrained in the system, creating a greater platform for player development in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Dates for April and May will be announced in Spring 2021.