CHICAGO FIRE JUNIORS LAUNCH ‘FEMALE INITIATIVE’ PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
FIRE Juniors Hold first-ever Elite Female Player ID Program
With more than 1,600 girls participating in Fire Juniors programs across the United States, the club recognized a need to provide a pathway for success for the female players that make up 35 percent of all Fire Juniors participants.
One week after the 40th Anniversary of Title XI, 128 Fire Juniors players ages 12-years-old through 17-years-old took part in the first-ever Elite Female Player ID Program at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Ill. The camp was designed to identify the top talent in the Juniors programs across the country. Coaching staffs from the nine Fire Juniors clubs selected the top three players in each age group U-13 to U-17 to participate in the camp.
With players coming in from all of the different Juniors affiliates, Kentucky Fire Juniors Technical Director Mike Dickey said he was pleasantly surprised by the quality and skill levels of camp participants.
“Going in, we had no idea what the quality of everyone’s players would be,” said Dickey. “Obviously I knew the players from Kentucky but I felt like the girls invited from all the affiliates were of good quality.”
For four days, the young ladies went through a series of intensive practice sessions led by members of the Chicago Fire first team staff and the U.S. Soccer coaching staff.
Off the field, the players attended workshops on a variety of topics, including a Game Understanding workshop lead by Atletico Madrid U-16 Academy Coach Rafa Carmona and a Strength and Conditioning workshop lead by Chicago Fire Strength & Conditioning Coach Tony Jouaux.
“The workshops were really well received. All of the girls are athletes; they understand about the importance of nutrition and hydration, but the information that was presented gave them good ideas,” said Dickey. “The workshops gave the girls better ideas on what they should do before and after training. Especially helpful were the speed and agility exercises that were specific for soccer; a lot of these drills can be done on their own, don’t require money but do require time and creativity. The program overall was really good. All of the girls got a lot out of it.”
In the coming weeks, the Chicago Fire technical staff will evaluate each players’ performance and select the top 18-20 players in each age group to participate in a number of signature tournaments and showcases throughout the country.
“This new initiatives gives our female players another possible means of gaining additional training, outside of just playing and competing locally, it will put our players on the national map,” said Dickey. “The elite team will provide players with the opportunity to surround themselves with other great players, and help push them and help them if they choose to play in college.”
GK Action Shot
On the Field with Keri Sarver
Top Tips with Mike Jeffries
Strength and Conditioning Lesson with Tony Jouaux
Tactical Workshop with Athletico Madrids Rafa Carmona