Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi


   

April, 2006

Chicago Fire Soccer and Mississippi United Soccer Club announce a partnership that establishes the fourth branch of the Fire Youth Development Program's official youth club system, Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi.

With the agreement, the Fire has again expanded its youth development program outside the Chicagoland area, this time into the state of Mississippi, a first for any Major League Soccer organization. Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi will model itself after other existing Chicago Fire Youth Development Program expansions in the states of Michigan (CFJ - West Michigan) and Wisconsin (CFJ - Elm Grove). Like its predecessors, the newly formed Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi will afford children in age groups from U11-U-19 in the Jackson metro area the chance to play for its competitive club squads.

"With the addition of another Fire Juniors satellite club, we have strengthened our commitment to providing players with the best Chicago Fire training methods possible, regardless of a location," said Chicago Fire President and CEO John Guppy. "We fully expect Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi to thrive just as our flagship program in Wheaton and its satellites in Michigan and Wisconsin did, and look forward to seeing the quality of player coming out of this new Mississippi system."

Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi will implement the curriculum and philosophy utilized by the other three Chicago Fire Juniors programs. Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi expects to draw approximately 400 travel players in its first year, with boys and girls teams participating in age groups ranging from Under-11 to Under-19. Participants in the Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi system will have the same opportunities afforded to the other three clubs, including the chance to partake in player exchanges, participation in national and international tournaments and access to wellness and nutrition programs.

"This unprecedented development with our new Mississippi-based Juniors program is further proof of our commitment toward youth development," said Chicago Fire Director of Soccer and Team Development Roland Hahn. "The Fire Juniors has developed a number of quality players within our own Midwest programs. With committed personnel here eager to give the best youth soccer instruction, we aim to continue that success with expansion into Mississippi."

The Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi agreement is another step in the Fire's mission to identify future MLS talent in Chicagoland and beyond. On the field, Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi will be under the guidance of Technical Director Kenny White, whose expansive soccer coaching and management experience includes stints as the State Director of Coaching in Alabama and an assistant coach for the New Orleans Gamblers of the then USL A-League. Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi will be outfitted by adidas, the official uniform supplier of the Chicago Fire, Chicago Fire Juniors and Major League Soccer.

"The opportunity to align ourselves with a professional organization such as the Chicago Fire is a tremendous plus," said White. "Our goal is to be one of the premier youth soccer organizations, and this initiative helps to put us at the forefront of youth soccer development. We are extremely grateful that this partnership has materialized."

The Fire's association with its newest affiliate will also expand the brand-awareness of the Chicago Fire name and image in the Jackson area, where the Fire will spend a portion of its preseason schedule for the next five years as part of an agreement reached with the town of Ridgeland.

Justin Mapp, a member of the Chicago Fire grew up in the Reservoir area of Rankin County and started his soccer career playing with the Reservoir Futbol Club that later merged with other clubs to form Mississippi United. The club has grown into the largest division I club in Mississippi and one of the most successful. This year the club will field approximately 25 teams in Under 11 through Under 19 boys and girls.

Since the Chicago Fire Juniors formed in April of 2003, the club's three branches have provided thousands of youth soccer players ages 8-23 access to the unparalleled resources of the Chicago Fire organization, providing young players across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin the highest possible level of youth soccer development. The Chicago Fire Juniors, under the leadership of Director of Coaching Larry Sunderland, feature top-level, nationally licensed coaches with access to high-quality fields and facilities in each of its now four locales. For more information on the Fire's Youth Development Department and its initiatives, visit www.chicagofirejuniors.com. To receive more information on the Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi, please visit www.mississippifirejr.com or contact Kenny White at (601) 624-3766 or via email at kwsocman@aol.com.



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