Crossing state lines wasn’t enough for the Harpeth Youth Soccer Association.
The Bellevue-based club is about to reach overseas.
Last week, the HYSA board approved a partnership with the Southern Soccer Academy in Atlanta and in the coming days, it is expected to announce a development deal with one of soccer’s biggest giants — Chelsea Football Club.
“We definitely upgraded our club by partnering with Southern Soccer Academy,” HYSA executive director Sterling Nabours said.
Nabours would not confirm the partnership with Chelsea but said SSA is close to finalizing a deal with an English Premier League team.
“It’s a team that had a big game this weekend,” Nabours said days after Chelsea won its first Champions League title.
The deal opens numerous opportunities for HYSA, which caters to more than 2,000 boys and girls from ages three to 18.
Members would have the chance to embark on tours to Europe and South America. Along with establishing a similar development curriculum for HYSA players and coaches, Chelsea coaches would visit Nashville each summer to spend a few weeks with the teams. Not to mention, this sort of union could spark corporate sponsorship.
“We’re just real excited,” Nabours said. “We’re going to be the first club in the Middle Tennessee area to be doing two major things. One, partnering with an EPL team. Nobody around here has partnered with them. Two, to have an actual player development curriculum that we’re following. We’re going to be following a proven curriculum that has worked with Southern Soccer Academy where various clubs that have formed that have put kids in the MLS and on the national team.”
SSA features more than 6,000 players and is aggressively on the hunt to join forces with multiple select clubs in the Southeast. But HYSA, a nonprofit organization that formed in 1989, is the first outside of Georgia to merge. Nabours built a relationship with Simon Davey, a former EPL player and coach who was named the SSA director of coaching and education earlier this month.
HYSA will receive tutelage from SSA coaches, chances to train with elite players and access to summer development leagues such as Super Y and Atlantic Soccer League. Plus, next winter Nabours said the SSA and HYSA will apply for membership into the Elite Club National League, the premier girls’ league in the country.
“It is happening because people are pooling resources and you’re trying to get like for like players together, elite players together, developmental players, academy players together,” Nabours said. “It is just good for the kids to be training alongside players of their own caliber and then mix them in occasionally with some stronger players.”
Such merging of forces is the latest trend in the youth soccer world.
Earlier this month, the Brentwood Soccer Club and the Tennessee Futbol Club in Franklin joined to form the largest select youth soccer organization in Williamson County.
Nabours, however, said that marriage pales in comparison to HYSA’s newfound partnership.
“They didn’t really add anything too new,” Nabours said. “They’re combining players and teams and they may get stronger but they didn’t add anything new. We’ve added in higher licensed coaches, player curriculum, ability to play across state lines, the ability to play in some [elite] leagues that even Brentwood and TNFC don’t have access to now.”