Atlanta United FC Announce Youth Academy Plans


Atlanta United FC made a big announcement on Monday in regards to the team’s youth academy. They plan on having the academy up-and-running by fall of 2016.

Atlanta United FC made news a few weeks back when it confirmed that the team bought 41 acres of land in DeKalb County that will serve as the team’s practice facility. In addition to the team’s practice facility, fans believed that the land serves as a youth-training facility, but the team released no plans until now. On Monday, the team officially announced its plan to build a youth academy for a variety of ages.

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Unlike the senior club, Atlanta United FC’s youth academy will begin in the fall of 2016. The academy offers development to specially selected players in the U-12, U-13, U-14, U-16, and U-18 divisions. This is a great sign for fans, youth players in Atlanta, and players in surrounding cities. By developing a strong youth academy with depth, United can mold players to their specific style.

Also, this allows the club to generate homegrown talent from Atlanta and the surrounding areas, so we do not rely on buying a multitude of players from other clubs and/or other leagues. Furthermore, Atlanta United FC’s youth academy helps instill a sense of loyalty as well as cohesion with the city and fans. With the announcement of the youth academy, United made a clear statement to fans and MLS teams: we are serious about soccer, and we are building for the future.

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I’m beyond excited to see how the academy runs and develops players. For the casual fans, this might not seem like much, but when you look at successful clubs, they all have a great youth academy (look no further than Barcelona’s La Masia and Manchester United’s youth academy). A successful club pulls from its home-grown talent, which allows the club to spend on other talent (can anyone say Zlatan Ibrahimovic?).

While this is great news for the club, most casual fans might not know that there is other competition in town. Georgia United as well as Concorde Fire have established academies. Notably, Arthur Blank’s son plays for the Concorde Fire. While one may think that this hurts Atlanta United FC’s chances for great, young talent, I believe it allows for healthy competition.

"“It’ll impact our development academy program a little bit, but we believe it’s going to impact it for the better and provide the best possible environment for us to grow talent out of Atlanta, and the state of Georgia, and even the Southeast to help feed through the Atlanta United program.” – Dave Smith, Georgia United Head Coach"

Georgia United moved out of the two older age groups (U-16 and U-18) to make room for Atlanta United; while, Concorde Fire director Ken Kurilec showed his support for the competition and growth Atlanta United FC provides.

I’m very excited to see how the youth academy helps the club develop young home grown talent. Who knows, maybe the kid you see playing in the street or in the park is the next Christiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, and he just needs a good development program to help him achieve that potential.

Next: Atlanta United FC: Which Team Could Become Our Rival?

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