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Letter from Kevin Payne: How to become a Players First-licensed club and gain important recognition in your community

By US Club Soccer, 10/15/18, 2:14PM EDT


Oct. 15, 2018


Dear US Club Soccer member,

For more than three years, US Club Soccer has implemented Players First in its programming, garnering recognition as the leading organization in youth sports focused on Player Health & Safety, while also incorporating the other pillars into a holistic development environment.

Now, we’re inviting clubs around the country to join us in this effort to put Players First and empower parents to make sure their children are in the best developmental environments – no matter how long or how far they want to take their soccer careers. (UPDATE: More than 100 clubs from 29 states have now been approved as Players First licensed.)

This Players First licensing application is for clubs that are providing the proper structure to help youth athletes thrive in the sport we all love. It includes seven sections, in which clubs will demonstrate their commitment to the Players First pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety:

  1. Club & Applicant Information
  2. Club Leadership Expertise and Development
  3. Staff Education and Development
  4. Player Health and Safety
  5. Training and Competition Structure
  6. Staffing Structure
  7. Parent Education and Engagement

Approved clubs immediately gain important recognition in their communities and nationally. Put simply, this is youth soccer’s “Good Housekeeping Seal.” For clubs that aren’t quite at this level yet, these are standards that should be aspirational. Together, we can improve the youth soccer experience for every player.

In addition to this nationally recognized stamp of approval, these clubs also receive increased exposure through US Club Soccer’s best-in-class search engine optimization, more access and benefits from Players First partners and resources, features on US Club Soccer digital and social channels, customizable content and more.

I want to be clear: Players First is not just a program. It is the cornerstone of US Club Soccer and the most important thing we do. I encourage you to read more about the direction of Players First and how it can lead to real changes in the youth soccer culture in Q&As published earlier this week from myself and Christian Lavers.

Details about the licensing process can be found on this web page, including the terms and eligibility information. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to sharing the initial group of Players First-licensed clubs very soon.

(UPDATE: Here is the growing list of Players First-licensed clubs.)



Kevin Payne
CEO/Executive Director, US Club Soccer


A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.

Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.

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