U.S. Soccer has announced the hiring of Miriam Hickey as the Director of the Girls’ Development Academy. Hickey joins U.S. Soccer after working as a Women's Football Instructor for FIFA, a National Development Officer for the Netherlands Football Federation (KNVB), and most recently as the Girls’ Director of Coaching at Troy Soccer Club in Michigan.
A professional with more than 25 years of experience developing players and coaches at the club, collegiate and National Team levels, Hickey brings a superior level of knowledge of the current international standards for elite female youth player development. Her past experience includes:
As Director, Hickey will oversee all technical aspects of the Girls’ Development Academy. The addition of the Girls’ program into the Development Academy infrastructure is one of U.S. Soccer’s latest initiatives to help develop world-class coaches, players and referees in the United States.
“The Boys Development Academy has set the standard for youth development in this country and I am honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the Girls’ Development Academy,” Hickey said. “I look forward to working with the Girls’ Academy Directors and staff, our Technical Advisors, Youth National Team staff, and the entire soccer community to set standards that will produce the next generations of world-class players.”
Hickey joins U.S. Soccer from her role as Girls’ Director of Coaching at Troy Soccer Club, as well as a Women's Football Instructor for FIFA. As a FIFA Women’s Football Instructor, Hickey lead coaching courses for Women's FIFA member associations and helped develop Girls’ and Women's soccer in the FIFA Master’s program.
“We are very excited for Miriam to join our staff and begin working with our inaugural member clubs in the Girls’ Development Academy,” U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos said. “We’ve hired a very talented and experienced leader in Miriam Hickey who shares our passion and a commitment to key principles for elite player development. Her wealth of international knowledge from every level of youth soccer and leadership experience with FIFA and the KNVB makes Miriam a tremendous asset for U.S. Soccer and the Girls’ Academy.”
Before her most recent roles domestically in youth clubs and internationally with FIFA, Hickey was a team manager and National Development Officer for the Netherlands Football Federation (KNVB). Hickey’s career accolades include 2013 North Region NSCAA Youth Girls Coach of the Year and 2008 US Youth Soccer National Competitive Girls Coach of the Year. She was also the first head coach of the LSU women's soccer team when the program played its inaugural season in 1995.
The 2017-2018 Girls’ Devolvement Academy kicks off this fall with a projected 70 clubs across seven regions to compete at U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 age groups. The Academy will provide member clubs with a consistent schedule of league and showcase games as part of a balanced program built on an appropriate training-to-game ratio. The overall schedule is designed to provide meaningful games and a variety of competition.
“The U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy program will raise the standards and assure that the pathway for the most talented and dedicated female players exists, and that we will be able to continue to compete with the elite players and teams in the world,” Hickey said. “To achieve this, we must commit to a positive training and game environment at the club level to ensure the best players are playing together and not one talented player is overlooked.”
The Boys Development Academy started in 2007, with approximately 3,500 players from 71 teams participating in the U-15/16 and U-17/18 age divisions. Since then, the program is set to carry more than 13,000 players across 165 clubs for the 2017-2018 season, competing in six different age groups.
By the numbers:
• 70 Number of clubs joining the Girls' Development Academy in Fall 2017
• 6 Number of Girls' Development Academy regions: Northeast, Southeast, Mid-America, Frontier, Northwest, Southwest
• 5,000 Number of projected Development Academy girls' players for inaugural season
• 10,700 Current players in the Development Academy
• 179 Number of unique boys' and girls' Academies, developing the next generation of talent
• 135 Number of USSF 'A' licensed coaches currently committed to Girls' Development Academy clubs
• 1,544 Number of players to receive scholarships from Girls’ Academy Clubs
With the hiring of Miriam Hickey as Director, the Development Academy Staff will look to expand a pool of interested and qualified candidates that can serve as Technical Advisors in key markets throughout the country. The Technical Advisor role will work closely with clubs to support Academy Directors and staff to achieve their goals through player development initiatives.
“The U.S. Women’s National Team has historically set the standard for the rest of the world and has been very successful in world championships and Olympic Tournaments,” Hickey said. “In the past decade, many European and Asian countries have been funding programs to improve the level of the game and their players have made substantial progress at the international level. Being able to watch this development first hand in 2016 while in Jordan during the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was an invaluable experience that we can learn from as we apply current youth development standards.”