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North Mississippi Soccer Academy

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Jun, 2017

North MS Soccer Academy now a reality

The Oxford Soccer Club of the Oxford Park Commission has joined forces with the Tupelo Futbol Club United, which is associated with the Tupelo Youth Soccer Association. The merger didn’t just happen on a whim, it has been in motion for almost two years. Wednesday’s vote by the OPC board to approve the merger helped finalize additional details for North Mississippi Soccer Academy, the name created from the combination.
Christian Dane, who will serve as the NMSA Tupelo Site Director and Boys Technical Director, said the merger will help improve the quality of competitive youth soccer in the area in a variety of ways.
“It will provide more playing opportunities for all of our kids. It will allow us to ability group them. More talented players will be with more talented players,” Dane said. “It will allow us to play at a high level. That’s certainly the biggest advantage of it, expanding our player base, by putting our two clubs together.”
Other advantages of the two clubs coming together include expanding the reach in North Mississippi. Not all of the players on the teams live in Oxford or Tupelo or even in Lafayette and Lee counties. Athletes travel in from Pontotoc, Grenada, Batesville, Corinth and other areas to take part in the weekly training.
“We have a lot of players that are outside of these two municipalities and this will allow us to continue attracting more soccer players to help build our program and continue to go in the right direction,” Dane said. “By combining our coaching staffs, it will also allow us to provide better and more comprehensive training for our players. It will allow us to have a better developmental model.”
The trainers that instruct in the two clubs combined are some of the most qualified in the state, and region. Four on staff hold at least a National B License from the United States Soccer Federation. There is one coach with a National A License, and three others with a National B License. The requirements are even more detailed for the National A License to be achieved. There are now over 20 coaches on staff thanks to the merger, all with licenses or diplomas geared towards youth soccer training. In order to gain some of the highest licenses, Dane said it is like going back to college.
“Being able to have more full time, dedicated soccer professionals for our kids is going to lead to better players,” Dane said.
In addition to the high level of coaching the NMSA can provide, athletes will be able to learn the game on two of the premier facilities in the state at FNC Park and at Ballard Park.
“They are two of the biggest, and two of the more quality facilities in the state. You could even argue two of the better ones in the Southeast,” Dane said. “It allows for us to be even more regionally relevant from that perspective, as well as a talent perspective, in Region 3. We want to be more competitive, provide a better platform for our kids to reach college and to take advantage of the excellent facilities and the support of two great cities in Tupelo and Oxford that are behind this. The economic impact of those cities is going to grow because of the events we are going to bring in by combining resources and facilities. That’s what is really good about it as well.”
Over the past two years since the first discussions of coming together, representatives from Oxford and Tupelo have gained input from the parents and others associated with the various clubs. Dane said all of the straw polls and things of that nature came back positively.
“We didn’t take these kinds of steps by putting the cart before the horse,” Dane said. “By doing this, we are showing our customers, our members, that there is more out there and when we explain what is out there, they seem to be a little bit more behind change. That can be a difficult thing, but we were able to explain why and show the benefits for their children.”
“This allows us to become more in line with the standards the USSF is promoting from a player-development perspective. This merger allows us to accomplish that for our athletes even better than before,” said Shaun Edgar, who will serve as the NMSA Oxford Site Director and Girls Technical Director.
Mark Halbert, who will serve as the new president of NMSA, thought the merger was an easy call considering all the benefits.
“The Oxford and Tupelo youth sports communities have always had a cooperative relationship, and that is especially true with soccer,” Halbert said. “North Mississippi Soccer Academy provides a formal vehicle to combine our people and resources, and the name reflects our focus on player development. I cannot overstate the positive impact this merger will have on soccer players in our respective communities and others across North Mississippi.”
With the merger, the number of kids associated with the program is now closer to 400. The OSC currently has an enrollment of 150.
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