FRISCO – The FC Dallas Youth Affiliate program launched two years ago with the aim to provide structure, support and opportunities to affiliate clubs in order to help them succeed in their markets, as well as attract high-level players for the FC Dallas Academy, Pre Academy and ECNL teams. In partnering with the Affiliates, the program also helps spread the FC Dallas brand far beyond North Texas.
There are currently four clubs in the Affiliate program and the partnership has been a catalyst for incredible growth for each of the clubs within their respective markets.
As a result of the program’s rapid growth, Vice President of FC Dallas Youth and Director of Coaching Chris Hayden brought in Ben Waldrum to fill the position of Youth Affiliate Director in October of 2012.
Waldrum is at the center of all the Affiliate clubs and shares a wide range of information and opportunities, including: coaching education, training programming, camp programming and college programming opportunities.
“The growth of each individual Affiliate club is a testament to the value of being part of FC Dallas Youth and all the various programming we provide as a club that goes beyond league games and tournaments,” said Waldrum. “We are different because we are not just a shell of a club; we provide so much more.”
The Affiliate program is comprised of four branches. FC Dallas West Texas (Midland/Odessa/Lubbock), FC Dallas El Paso, FC Dallas Emerald Coast (Northwest Florida) and FC Dallas TRI (Northeast Tennessee & Southwest Virginia) are the four clubs involved in the program and are each benefiting from the additional support.
FC Dallas West Texas and West Texas Sockers - a Premier Development League franchise - recently announced a merger that would have FCD West Texas add a team called the Super 20s. The Super 20s will be part of each team’s developmental pyramid and compete in the PDL. The Super 20s will focus on top high school and collegiate athletes to participate in the USL Super 20s league in conjunction with both FCD West Texas and West Texas Sockers.
FCD El Paso has had three teams qualify for Dr Pepper Dallas Cup XXXIV this year, solidifying the level of excellence embodied by the club and its high standards for players. The club also recently added a U-10 boys team and three new girls teams, along with four new coaches to its staff.
FCD Emerald Coast boasts a program of 24 teams after expanding into a neighboring community since affiliating with FC Dallas two years ago; adding a southern division to the club. Emerald Coast hopes to supplement its growth with the Skills Training and Recreational Soccer (STARS) program, which runs through the recreational base of the club and will help establish it as a focal point for the game in Northwest Florida.
FC Dallas TRI has by far made the most dramatic alterations to their club’s structure, with the merger of three clubs (Fusion Futbol Club, Holston Valley Futbol Club and Vitesse) and four recreational associations (Bristol Soccer Association, Elizabethton Soccer Association, Highland Football Club and Sullivan County Soccer Association).
Hayden and Waldrum recently visited FC Dallas Youth’s newest Affiliate club and were impressed with what they saw.
“FC Dallas TRI is a unique situation,” said Waldrum. “Four different associations and competitive clubs decided to merge into one club under the FC Dallas umbrella. [Between] the two directors of coaching’s (Declan Jogi & Michael Louter) vision to grow the game in their area plus the excitement of the mergers, I would be very surprised if FC Dallas TRI does not continue to grow.”
By providing a structured support system to the clubs, the Affiliates program hopes to continue the spread of the FC Dallas brand and its method of player development through “The FC Dallas Way” curriculum.
“Potential players and families within each Affiliates' region see the value of being part of the FC Dallas family,” said Waldrum. “Our overall goal is to grow the Affiliate clubs by one to two clubs each year, but it is more important to find the 'right' clubs that have similar philosophies on player development and be a little more selective in making sure each club fits.”