NEW ORLEANS, LA – (February 4, 2013) – The New Orleans Jesters, the region’s minor league soccer team, announced that there will be multiple changes taking place in 2013. These changes will include a new league, a new ownership structure and a new youth development program. All shifts are being made to improve the soccer club and to solidify proper soccer development in the region.
The minor league team will be joining the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) after competing in the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (PDL) since 2003. The NPSL is an equivalent league that has seen rapid growth over the last two years. In 2013, the league will comprise over 60 teams, including new clubs in cities such as Miami, Las Vegas, Tampa and Houston.
“We have followed the development of the NPSL for a few years now,” said Jesters Head Coach Kenny Farrell. “They have had impressive growth over the past few years that is most likely due to their team-ownership structure. We look forward to the opportunities that the league will provide and to the influence that New Orleans can have in the process.”
The NPSL was formed in 2005 as the nation-wide successor league to the Men’s Premier Soccer League. Similar to the PDL, the league is compromised of semi-pro or amateur soccer teams that serve as a feeder system to professional leagues in the US and around the world. The NPSL is team-run and team-owned, whereas the PDL is privately held.
“We had already planned for a shift in ownership structure,” states former Jesters owner and current NOLA Soccer Academy President Dana Stumpf. “When looking at the overall picture and our current focus on elite youth development, the move to the NPSL made a lot of sense.”
In addition to the minor league team, the Jesters also conduct a number of youth development programs through NOLA Soccer Academy and Carrollton Boosters. The “Elite Program” is the newest offering and is a professionally coached training program for high-level players, currently ages U8-U10. Participation is by invitation only and training sessions are coached primarily by Coach Farrell.
“The goal is to prepare talented players for a higher level of play,” explains Coach Farrell. “We are not training teams with state championships in mind. We are training players with US National Team and World Cup in mind. New Orleans has the talent; we just need to give them the proper foundation.”
The overall goal of the Jesters is to have a minor league team that is completely compromised of local talent by 2020. A boost for this goal may have come recently with Jesters player and local standout, Patrick Mullins, being named college soccer’s top player when he won the Hermann Trophy earlier this month.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction,” states Coach Farrell. “We have the ability to produce some of the top players in the country and in the world. We just need to get them early and make sure they are allowed to develop a true love for the game.”
The 2013 schedule is currently tentative and will be officially released later this month.