Bill Hamid's first youth club is now D.C. United's first affiliate in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Last week, D.C. United announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Annandale Boys & Girls Club (ABGC). Earlier this off-season, United announced a similar arrangement with Maryland's Freestate Soccer Alliance, a move that we lauded in this space. As with the Freestate arrangement, this move was facilitated by adidas, who will be providing D.C. United and adidas branded gear for ABGC coaches and players. ABGC will work with United to implement a training regimen and style of play and to identify and feed players into United's formal academy setup.
Besides Hamid, ABGC has also produced five current players in United's Academy.
The press release announcing this was largely the same as the one that announced the affiliation with Freestate, so I'm going to take the cue to re-use some of my own language in response:This could be huge, particularly if United builds on the Freestate partnership by entering into similar arrangements with other Maryland and Virginia clubs. Luckily, it sounds from United Senior VP of Marketing Communications Doug Hicks that we won't have to wait long to see further movement on this front: "We're excited about the future of this relationship, as well as connecting with several other local clubs, through similar agreements, in advance of the 2013 MLS campaign."
This sort of network would go a long way toward ensuring that fewer local prospects slip through the United Academy cracks and, with former Ajax man Sonny Silooy heading up the program, will also ensure that more of the area's best youth players are training and playing in the same system and against the best competition the country has to offer.
My only thoughts boil down to this: Great news, both for D.C. United and for American and Mid-Atlantic youth development generally.
In another similarity with the Freestate announcement, there's a hint at more to come, with United's Senior VP of Marketing Communications Doug Hicks saying, "We look forward to engaging with additional local and regional clubs in the weeks ahead."
All in all, it's more good youth development news coming out of East Capitol Street.