Published: March 22, 2012
There is a cost to play against the best, and that cost is not always on the field.
Earlier this week, ECNL, the elite girls club nationwide league, invited two Texas clubs, Albion Hurricanes and Texas Rush, into its competition, beginning in August 2012.
“It is a huge opportunity for us,” Texas Rush Technical Director Don Gemmell told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It is a vital part of our overall program for our elite competitive girls. Nationwide the landscape is changing for club soccer. It is great to be a part of the national programs.”
Gemmell went on to say that only 26 clubs in the country hold the distinction of being part of the ECNL and the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Development Academy, the boys nationwide youth club league. Gemmell was thrilled that Texas Rush is now set to be part of that exclusive group.
However, the invitation does come with some baggage, as the cost of elite club soccer continues to climb with every year.
“There is always concern about costs,” Gemmell said. “We try to subsidize travel for the competitive kids through fundraisers.”
Albion Director of Coaching for Girls Russell Gee said that the parents there have known about the possibility of joining the ECNL after the Houston-area club applied twice in the past, but the club is still holding meetings now to discuss that issue.
“We are going through our internal meetings now,” Gee said. “We are in the throes of putting everything together. That said, we do already play in the national league, and travel to events at Disney World.”
Gee went on to say that he believes the ECNL decided to add his club this season because of the progress it has shown on and off the field in recent years.
“All of our 96s, 97s, and 98s are playing at a regional and national level,” Gee said. “We are putting players through to college with 25 heading to college programs next fall. We are showing the player development to get players to the next level. It is a credit to the girls, the coaching staff, and the club to join the ECNL.”
Both Gemmell and Gee believed their clubs will be competitive in the ECNL for the start, but know there will be some difficult challenges in the first season.
“It is a very tough conference and there is a learning curve to play against the best, which is what the ECNL is,” Gee said. “We have some very good teams and believe they will go out there and compete immediately.”