USDA Academy Programs
Another significant benefit of the SMIA and SAFE Foundation programs are their connection to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USDA). The USDA is a program that provides education, resources and support to impact everyday soccer club environments that are developing world-class players.
The Academy contains nine geographically-based divisions at the U-13/14 age group and seven at both the U-15/16 and U-17/18 levels. Each team plays home and away games against the other teams in their division, plus games against non-division opponents from across the country during the 10-month season. The top 32 teams in each age group advance to the Academy Playoffs, where they compete for one of eight spots in the Academy Championships.
Coach Aleks’ national scouting responsibilities through the U.S. Soccer Federation provide him with an opportunity to scout the nation’s best soccer players for the USDA program, including players from SMIA and SAFE Foundation programs that advance to the Chicago Blast Soccer Club. During his years as a Soccer Federation and USDA scout, he has placed 35 kids from SMIA and SAFE into the Academy.
Like other “feeder” opportunities developed by Coach Aleks, if SAFE and SMIA players are fortunate enough to be recruited for the USDA, their futures in soccer grow exponentially – in college, after college, for the U.S. National team, even professionally. The only requirement is a strong desire to work hard and excel both academically and athletically through the great sport of soccer.