On Saturday, Orange County SC will host an ID camp for local players 13-17 years old, but this will be different than previous ID camps: It will be for girls players.
The club is in the process of setting up ambitious, if deliberate, plans to get involved in girls’ and women’s soccer, from the youth ranks all the way up to the professional level.
OCSC president of soccer operations and general manager Oliver Wyss laid out the club’s motivations and plans in a recent interview with Angels on Parade.
Wyss highlighted the process the club has undertaken on the men’s side the past few years, in building a development pipeline that is actually leading to some results for the club, and replicating it on the women’s side.
“As our club has continued to grow, we have gotten more involved in the development of top boys players and have been very successful in continuing to build out this pathway,” Wyss explained. “But we also wanted to make sure we are providing the same opportunities for the very talented girls players in Orange County. We have a very good youth network with local clubs that we work closely with and many of them have top girls programs as well. We feel as a professional club, we want to be a part of this pathway not only for the boys, but start to build up on the girls side as well.”
The girls ID camp is the first for OCSC, but the club plans to assemble a squad to play in a USL-sanctioned showcase tournament in the spring.
“This year there will be a U-17 Girls division of the USL Academy cup, which Orange County Soccer Club has decided to send a team to, which will be an all-star team made of up local girls players that come through our youth soccer network and through ID camps that we’ll be holding between now and May,” he said.
But the Academy Cup may be just the beginning for OCSC.
“There have been talks about potentially adding a USL Girls Academy league in the coming years, and we are a very interested in getting involved. As I’m sure you’ve heard, there’s been talk about a woman’s professional aspect to the USL,” Wyss said.
“And if that comes through, we will definitely take a serious look at potentially having a team in that league, too. So we feel being in Orange County with such a talented market for youth girls players, this could be the next step to building out our pathway.”
A report in January from Meg Linehan and Jeff Rueter of The Athletic indicated the USL is planning to launch a women’s league in 2022. While Angels on Parade understands plans are still being ironed out on the specifics, including the level of the league, the report from The Athletic indicated the projection would be for the USL women’s league to be a hybrid of the USL League One professional level and the USL League Two semi-pro level, meaning the new league could combine fully pro players with college players who remain amateur to keep their NCAA status.
USL announced on Tuesday they have hired Betsy Haugh as director of women’s soccer operations, the first such full-time hire in the organization dedicated to launching a new women’s soccer component under the USL umbrella.
But first, the Orange County SC’s expansion into women’s soccer starts with the girls in their upcoming ID camp.
Wyss said OCSC will take a holistic approach to rounding out their first girls team for the USL Academy Cup.
“First, we want to do these ID camps because we want to give everybody the opportunity to be seen, but we also don’t want to select the team and all-star team [solely] based on an ID camp and we’re so limited [by] the pandemic,” he said. “Safety obviously always comes first, of all our participants and our coaching staff, but we are also talking to many of the local clubs, getting their feedback, getting their recommendations through our youth soccer network. We want their input because we want them to be part of it, we’re looking at this girls team, truly as an all-star team that will go to the USL Academy Cup this year, and we want it to be a reflection of girls soccer in Orange County.”
If you or someone you know if interested in participating in Saturday’s ID camp for girls 13-17, check out details on how to register on Orange County SC’s website.
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