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Washington Spirit will have club in new U.S. Soccer Girls Development Academy

The Washington Spirit are part of the 25 initial clubs joining the Girls Development Academy

Updates on July 1 at 3:00pm to include information released by the Spirit today

This afternoon, U.S. Soccer announced the creation of a Girls' Development Academy similar to the existing program on the boys' side. The Washington Spirit are one of the initial 25 clubs to enter the Girls' Development Academy along with five other NWSL clubs. More clubs are expected to join the Girls' Development Academy which will begin competition in the fall of 2017.

"The Development Academy is an important step forward to continue the growth of the women’s game in the United States, and to create the best pathway for players to reach their full potential," said U.S. Women's National Team head coach Jill Ellis in U.S. Soccer's press release.

The Spirit are partnering with four Virginia-based youth soccer clubs: Arlington Soccer Association, Braddock Road Youth Club, Loudoun Soccer and Southwestern Youth Association.

"The partner clubs we have assembled for the Virginia side of our Development Academy plans represent an amazing collection of like-minded leaders with impeccable credentials and a long history of success," said Washington Spirit President Chris Hummer. The Spirit also have plans for an Academy more convenient to players from DC and Maryland, to be detailed at a later date.

Right now, the Spirit have 33 teams participating in the Super Y League ranging from 10-year-olds to 18-year-old girls. The Spirit also have two clubs at the WPSL level, the Spirit Reserves and the Spirit Academy. The Spirit also run regular clinics at the youth level.

The five other NWSL clubs joining the Girls Development Academy include the Boston Breakers, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign, and Sky Blue FC. Per U.S. Soccer "Not all clubs (whether NWSL or not) have submitted completed applications and not all completed applications submitted thus far were as strong as those clubs listed in the first announcement."

The program will have three mixed age groups: U-14/15, U-16/17, U-18/19.