Spring 2015 has been an exciting time for players and families from GPS Florida affiliate clubs with a number of recent announcements in advance of the 2015/16 season.
MaitlandSoccer.com caught up with GPS Florida General Manager Graham Munro to allow him to detail the new opportunities for players in the Metro Orlando area.
MaitlandSoccer.com: So what is GPS Orlando and what does this mean for my child in 2015/16.
Munro: GPS Orlando is a new tier of programing for players aged U12-U18 designed for the elite player that currently exists within our three Orlando based member clubs – FC America, Maitland SC and Hunter’s Creek Soccer Club.
The new program (which runs during the regular soccer calendar year of August-May) allows us to combine talent pools and coaching resources to merge the top talent into one program and provide them with an opportunity to train and play year round with similarly talented peers.
These teams will compete in the prestigious Florida Premier League (FPL).
MaitlandSoccer.com: So does this mean that FC America, Maitland SC and Hunter’s Creek SC will cease to exist?
Munro: Absolutely Not. The three GPS affiliate clubs in Orlando have a rich history in Orlando that we wish to preserve as opposed to replace. We will actually be celebrating the 25th Anniversary in 2015/16 of FC America.
At ages U8-U11, each club will continue to field teams out of geographically convenient practice and game locations. Further, each club will still have playing opportunities U12-U18 with the goal of developing talent in these teams to hopefully graduate to GPS Orlando elite teams.
Each club will maintain it’s own senior leader(s) who will be visible on the coaching field and be the executive point of contact from an administrative capacity. We are delighted to have Chris Mills and Chris Waugh (FC America), Steve Thurlby (Maitland SC) and Rob Hills (Hunter’s Creek SC) in place for the 2015/16 season.
MaitlandSoccer.com: What facilities will GPS Orlando utilize?
Munro: Our facility options have been significantly enhanced for season 2015/16 as we utilize the multiple facility relationships we have in the Metro Orlando area. At our disposal will be fields at Lake Island (MLK fields), Lake Destiny, Thunder Field, the new outdoor fields at XL Soccerworld, Maitland Middle School, Lake Sybellia, and Lake Highland Prep School amongst others. We will also use the multi-million dollar field complex in Apopka on game days.
Our facility access includes lighted fields to help through the winter months and turf fields to help with storm season. We are delighted with our facility access in 2015/16.
MaitlandSoccer.com: So what kit will the GPS Orlando team be wearing next season?
Munro: See below for an image of the GPS Orlando kit package for 2015/16. We are excited to incorporate the FC Bayern uniform into our game day attire, but unfortunately, you will have to wait until the summer to see that piece, but take my word for it, it will not disappoint!
MaitlandSoccer.com: What is the goal of the GPS Orlando teams? Why change what is currently in place?
Munro: Our mission statement at GPS centers around developing players to play at the next level of the game and we want to continue to demonstrate a player pathway that can have our players reach the highest levels of the game. We are fully equipped to provide a high quality club soccer program to co-exist with a High School playing experience. At GPS we place over 50 players a year into college programs up and down the country and it is that college placement goal that drives our staff.
GPS Orlando is the first step in merging the top talent within the organization.
GPS Orlando players will then be eligible to participate in GPS Florida Elite teams which combines the top talent from our Orlando, Jacksonville and Ft Myers affiliates for a summer program. At this point, players are eligible to participate in our GPS Bayern National Teams that are comprised of the top talent from affiliate clubs in eleven separate US states.
The pathway exists for a player to join FC America, Maitland SC or Hunter’s Creek Soccer Club as a U8 and graduate through GPS Orlando (U12-U18 year round program) to GPS Florida (summer program) to GPS National Teams (select High profile national and International events at various points in the calendar year).
A very small number of players will go on to play professionally but we are comfortable that our pathway still caters to that tiny percentage due to our affiliation with FC Bayern Munich with GPS placed as the exclusive North American Youth Soccer Partner.
To demonstrate the level of our partnership, our membership should note that we have already had FC Bayern coaches on the ground in North America (including Junior Teams Director and U16 Head Coach, Sebastian Dremmler) and our Senior Staff at FC America , Maitland SC and Hunter’s Creek SC participate in monthly conference calls with Dremmler and his staff.
In addition, GPS Florida has;
– Placed two U12 players at an invite only FC Bayern Elite ID camp in Maine this summer for GPS players.
– Placed two players in the U13 GPS National Team headed to the prestigious Dallas Cup this spring,
– Placed two players in a U14 weeklong training camp at FC Bayern’s training facility at Säbener Straße this summer
– Placed three players in the U15 GPS National Team headed to the world famous Milk Cup in Northern Ireland this July. This is in addition to placing one player at the same event in 2014.
I have been fortunate to assume the position of U15 GPS National Team Head Coach and look forward to taking three Florida players to the Milk Cup in addition to facilitating playing opportunities for other players within our programs over the next months and years.
MaitlandSoccer.com: What if I don’t currently play for a GPS program? How can I be involved in the above?
Munro: Over the next month we will be announcing full details regarding tryout dates and locations and our coaching slate for 2015/16. There will be an opportunity to register to attend our tryouts and at that point you will be eligible for our programs. We are very excited about this upcoming tryout season, as it will see players from all of our GPS Orlando affiliates (FC America, Hunter’s Creek SC and Maitland SC) come together for the first time and combine with other interested players as we prepare for an exciting 2015/16 season.
MaitlandSoccer.com: Thanks Graham, for taking the time to chat today. We look forward to hearing more from you as we get closer to tryouts.