The Junior Premier League lands in USA

Really Epic Dog Group is teaming up with the UK’s hugely successfully Junior Premier League to bring a world-class soccer championship to the United States.

The JPL, which has youth teams from EPL sides such as Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Watford, will launch in the US in Utah next spring but has plans to expand across the country. A number of high-level teams in the state have already been invited to join the league but more will be invited to apply for the new league from this week.

As the largest youth soccer organization in the UK, the JPL has over 25,000 players registered and retains close links with professional clubs. In 2019, 40% of players in their rep teams signed professional contracts and over 60% had a trial at pro clubs. JPL US will draw on all of those connections and expertise when it launches in the US. 

Wayne Scholes, CEO of Really Epic Dog Group, said: “We have a long tradition of successfully working with elite soccer organizations, so this was an opportunity RED could not turn down.

“The JPL has enjoyed huge success in England with its development-based approach to soccer and we expect to see similar results in the United States.

“We want to give young people in Utah the opportunity to not only play high-level soccer, but also make key contacts with professional clubs via the JPL.

“Our knowledge of the youth soccer community in Utah, combined with the JPL’s expertise from the UK, will benefit every team that is successful in applying.”

The JPL has a primary focus on player development, innovation and ensuring every player benefits from a premier experience.

Age groups in Utah will initially be Under-9 to Under-13, with a projected six teams per age group, per gender.

Daren Woolstenhulme, who has been appointed CEO of The JPL USA, said: “I am delighted that the Junior Premier League has chosen Utah for its first expansion into the United States.

“The JPL is widely regarded as a very high level of youth soccer in the United Kingdom and we want to give youngsters in the USA similar opportunities.

“We already have a fantastic soccer set-up here in Utah and we want to work with existing clubs to continue that fine tradition of player development.

“The best clubs will be invited to join us and mirror the high standards already set by the Junior Premier League in the UK.”

The JPL has a well-established set of standards that ensures players get consistent opportunities to develop and achieve their full potential.

Every player selected must play at least 50 per cent of a game and all fixtures are staged over three periods.

All JPL coaches must have high-level qualifications, alongside solid experience of working in professional academies.

Martin Brock, CEO of The Junior Premier League UK, said: “This is a very exciting expansion for both the JPL and youth soccer in Utah.

“We have been looking at the United States for some time and with the support of an experienced soccer administrator like Daren, we have all the building blocks in place.

“It is our intention to complement the existing – and excellent – youth soccer structure in Utah, to bring opportunities that have served our players so well in the UK.

“We want to work with the very best youth players and teams, so entry to our leagues will be by invitation only. Only the best will get in.

“This is our first step into a youth soccer market that has boundless possibilities for young people to thrive and achieve their ambitions. We want to be part of that.”