CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati has elevated soccer in the Queen City for men and boys, but now it's going to do the same for women and girls.
The men’s pro soccer club is supporting the new Cincinnati Development Academy to train the region's best female players.
It's a blending of two youth programs, Cincinnati United and Kings Hammer, that have been rivals on the field.
The goal is to give young girls a chance to play in college and maybe make the U.S. Women's National Team some day.
FC Cincinnati announced support for the academy on Friday, unveiling new shirts the girls will wear bearing FC Cincinnati’s emblem and name.
All players will wear FC Cincinnati colors and logo on jerseys. pic.twitter.com/FZGhGZ01OZ
— Laurel Pfahler (@LaurelPfahler) July 7, 2017
President and General Manager Jeff Berding says it's not just a piipeline for girls to make national teams, it helps teach life lessons.
“Hard work, leadership, being part of a team, personal sacrifice and pursuit of goals, the joy of achieving, and of course, the hurt of sometimes falling short,” Berding said.
Olivia Scheppre and Summer Denigan have already been accepted at the academy. They sat in the front row during Friday’s news conference and can't wait to get started.
“This will really help me get ready for college,” Scheppre said. “To play like the best competition — it's like the best league in the nation — it's going to be awesome.
“It's really exciting to play with the best players around here in the highest league in the nation,” said Denigan.
Academy technical director Bobby Puppione said Cincinnati United, Kings Hammer and other soccer clubs combined to give girls new soccer opportunities.
“It's going to bring together the best players into an elite level training environment where they can grow as players and give them the best opportunities to move on and play college soccer and professional soccer and be a part of our youth national teams,” Puppione said.
WATCH the entire news conference below:
And it helps that area girls know Mount Notre Dame High School's Rose Lavelle rose from their hometown and to become a member of the U.S. Women's National Team.
“It gives these young players inside the Cincinnati Development Academy and all across the city someone to look up to and someone to say, ‘Hey, she's from our town and we want to be just like her,” Puppione said.
Lavelle, who was in town to promote the national team’s friendly against New Zealand at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 19, said she supports the academy concept 100 percent.
“I think it's a good path to fulfilling their dreams and a stepping stone to accomplishing their goals,” Lavelle said.
Training for the academy begins in August with games scheduled to start Labor Day weekend.
Learn more about #FCCincy's new partnership with @DAcincinnati. https://t.co/pBR64cVBsX#RiseTogether pic.twitter.com/eEGvDtiRin
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) July 7, 2017