Over the last couple of months, I have been involved in many conversations about the pathway to the professional level for young female soccer players in the USA. Obviously, this is not a brand-new topic, and I am sure loads of people have tried to flip the puzzle piece in all different ways to come up with a solution that makes sense for families and players while being financially affordable. 


After leaving Africa at the age of 11, I was recruited to the Toulouse Football Club academy system at 12 years old. I remember the meeting at my house as if it were yesterday: two club representatives sitting at my dining room table, having a conversation with my parents about me joining the academy and heading off to their full-time residency program an hour away. Needless to say, my excitement level was very different than my mom’s. My experience at the academy was probably the single most valuable of my life; it taught me independence, respect, and tolerance – as well as how to maneuver friendships, how to share space with teammates, how to always be aware of your belongings, and how to think ahead. It was a true blessing to grow so fast as a soccer player in such a high-quality environment, but looking back, it was the growth as a young man that was most impactful. I stayed in this environment for five years and left a confident, independent young man – so much so that a year later, at just 17 years old, I flew to America and never returned. 


So, I’m thinking, why can’t we build a similar model here in the US for elite young female soccer players? It already exists in the MLS, and young boys do have access to a fully funded program that also offers great education through the high school level. These boys have a true pathway to reach the professional level, so what are the limitations and constraints that prevent it from coming together on the women’s side?

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