Sporting CP and Washington Youth Soccer Partnership

Sporting Clube de Portugal (Sporting Club Portugal/Sporting CP/SCP) have established a partnership with Washington Youth Soccer (WYS), one of the largest youth soccer associations in the United States. This agreement will create not only an exchange of knowledge between the two parties, but it will encourage the recruitment and development of young and talented players from Washington State to one of the most influential and storied clubs in Europe.

With this partnership, Sporting CP reinforces their investment in talent identification and the expanding of their international network into an area with a strong record of producing soccer talent. Washington Youth Soccer has a long and illustrious history of developing top players, including legendary goalkeeper Kasey Keller and Michelle Akers, FIFA Female Player of the 20th Century. WYS has also been an important partner of Seattle Sounders FC, current Major League Soccer (MLS) champions, since the club’s NASL debut in 1974.

This groundbreaking agreement with WYS is part of an overall development project focused on the USA market engineered by United Soccer League (USL) founder and longtime former president Francisco Marcos, now serving as an External Senior Advisor to SCP, the club he has supported for his entire life in his native Portugal. According to Marcos, the plan involves establishing technical partnerships at all levels of American soccer, including state youth associations, professional clubs in Major League Soccer and various levels of USL, and NCAA Division 1 college programs. Specifically referring to the WYS agreement, Marcos said: “it was important that the first agreement be with an organization that was not only a leader in the development process, but one whose management we could fully trust, and that we could use as the model going forward.” Marcos and WYS CEO Terry Fisher have a long personal and professional relationship that goes back more than 50 years, since they were teammates at New York’s Hartwick College.

Frederico Varandas, president of Sporting CP, said: “Youth development is in our DNA and is one of our main goals. We will always be proud to see Sporting CP as an example of youth development. This partnership will reinforce even more our strategy and our sports development model. I would also like to thank the personal involvement of Francisco Marcos, Terry Fisher, and Felipe Mendez in this process.”

According to WYS CEO Terry Fisher, “This partnership with Sporting CP means an alliance with one of the most successful clubs in the world regarding youth development. It’s the only club in the world with two former academy players winning the Ballon d’Or [Luís Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo] and it’s one of the three clubs with the most former academy players in first division teams. In the last 15 years, more than 50 footballers who came from Academia Sporting [Sporting CP’s academy] played in the club’s first team. I’m sure it will be the beginning of unique opportunities for all of us.” Bastien Catrin, Director of the Elite Player Development program, said that “We are excited with the opportunity to work in collaboration with Sporting CP. They are one of the most prolific youth clubs in Europe, and they can bring new opportunities to both our players and coaches.”

WYS Board President Felipe Mendez also said that “At Washington Youth Soccer we are honored and privileged to bring our soccer community the opportunity to partner with one of the sporting world’s preeminent clubs in Sporting Clube de Portugal. SCP has an unparalleled commitment to youth development and with the establishment of this new sporting partnership, SCP brings its international youth sports development model directly to our soccer fields in Washington. It is truly humbling to be associated with such a profound opportunity for our kids.”

Beyond just player development, WYS is also looking forward to how working with SCP will benefit and improve the education of coaches in their organization. Paul Bayly, Director of Coaching Education said: “This partnership gives the Coaching Education department a great opportunity to share and exchange knowledge, techniques, and resources with a world-class academy. Washington Youth Soccer has a rich history of fostering top coaching talent and we look forward to reaching new heights thanks to our new partners at Sporting CP.”