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Western North Carolina's
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Western North Carolina's
Home for Youth Soccer

Academy FAQ Academy FAQ

Academy Program FAQs

What is Academy soccer?

The Academy Program is designed to maximize INDIVIDUAL PLAYER DEVELOPMENT rather than team development. Team development can only be accomplished with a group of individuals who are technically proficient. With this concept in mind, the Academy age group strives to develop the players individually, so they can be effective TEAM PLAYERS as they move into the older age groups and higher level programs. Emphasis is placed on technical progress in the areas of dribbling, passing, receiving, striking balls, and basic decision-making. This program is designed for players who are finding success in their recreational soccer experience and want to improve and learn about the game in a fun, exciting and emotionally safe environment.

What is the level of Academy soccer?

8U-10U Academy soccer is the highest level of play offered to 8U,9U and 10U players in ABYSA/HFC. 11U/12U Academy soccer is the second highest level of play at the club for 11U & 12U players.

Academy soccer serves as a bridge between ABYSA Recreation soccer and HFC Competitive (Classic) programs. The training and game environment we create introduces players to the expectations of soccer at the next level. While a disciplined approach is expected by the players, the intent of the program is to make sure soccer remains FUN, challenging, and educational!

How will I know if my child is ready to participate in Academy soccer?

If your child is enjoying recreation soccer and wants to be on a pathway to continue playing soccer in the future then we highly encourage them to come out to placement evaluations for academy to give it a shot! We have found that players develope more rapidly when training in the right enviroment with our Academy coaching staff. 

When does the Academy Program train?

Training will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from mid August until early November. The spring season begins in mid February and concludes early May. Training will take place at the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex in East Asheville, the Buncombe County Sports Park in West Asheville, and at the Henderson County Athletics and Activities Center (AAC). Training sessions last 1 hr and 15 minutes for the 8U-10U age groups, and 1 hr and 30 minutes for the 11U/12U age groups.

When do Academy players play matches?

Academy matches are mostly played on Saturday mornings, but Friday evening and Sunday afternoon games are also possible if needed but rare. Our Academy Staff are drawn from HFC's most talented coaches who also have responsibilities in other HFC programs. Utilizing these coaches requires that we have flexibility in game day scheduling.

How much travel is involved?

Travel in the Academy Program is very minimal if any. Some players will be given the opportunity to travel to play against players from outside the Asheville Area. These events will be limited and may be in the Charlotte area, Greensboro area, or Hickory area. While some travel will occur, there are other associations that will travel to us when we host festival events.

Can I play on the same team as my friend?

Players that participate in the Academy programs are able to request to be with their friends. However, in order to create the most effective program for all players, there are occasions where this is not possible. The Academy directors form teams for this age-group during the initial weeks of training, after which they are assigned a coach and given a schedule for the season. Teams may stay the same for the entire year (Fall & Spring), or change for each individual season.

What is the Academy placement evaluation process?

HFC conducts placement evaluations for players in May and also some supplemental placement evaluations through the year. The evaluation process is ongoing throughout the season following the initial evaluation. Some players will be best advised to continue their soccer development in our recreation program in the fall season. Many players will be invited to participate in the program beginning in August.

While we recognize that we are working with younger players of differing physical and emotional development levels, we also understand that some players are not capable of reaching the expectations in the Academy Program. Therefore, the first several weeks of Academy training will also serve as an evaluation period, and some players may be asked to leave if they are not ready for the program. Placing players in the appropriate program is a goal of ABYSA/HFC because playing in the right environment makes soccer more enjoyable for all involved. We feel players who are not prepared for the demands of the environment will not benefit from or enjoy the program, so those players may be referred back to the Recreation Program. Participation in the Spring Academy Program will be by invitation only. If you are not invited to continue in the program for the spring, we highly recommend that your player continues his/her soccer in our ABYSA Recreation Program for further development.

When will I be notified?

Following the evaluation, coaches will decide which players will be asked to join the program. Players will be informed of their status within 7 days of the completion of placement evaluations.

How long do I have to accept an offered position? What if I am uncertain?

In order to file the required paperwork with NCYSA in time for our Academy season, we ask that families indicate in their registration if they will accept positions (if offered) prior to attending placement evaluations. If you are undecided, please mark that box on the registration form and provide a brief explanation of the reasons for your uncertainty. An HFC Director will contact you to discuss your concerns and answer questions, so you can make a decision about what is best for your child. If your child is offered a spot in the Academy Program after the placement evaluations, you will be sent an email with a link to use to confirm that you will accept the invitation. We will need a decision from you within 7 days of receiving an invitation.

Do I have to attend all 3 evaluations?

Players only need attend the one evaluation at the location where they intend to play during the season. If players cannot make their intended evaluation location, please contact [email protected] to arrange an alternative evaluation date/location to attend (Players who do so will still be considered for their primary location when forming groups for the season).

What is the cost of the program?

The Academy program cost $439per season. The total cost of the program for first season players is $539 ($439 program fee and approximately $100 Uniform (new players only)). Program fees include coaches fees, field rental, referee fees, festival entry fees and administration costs. They do not cover the cost of travel for individual families to out of town events (rare). The uniform fee includes two training shirts and a complete home and away uniform, including shorts & socks. Financial Aid is available for families with a documented need who otherwise could not participate in the ABYSA/HFC Academy Program. ALL ACADEMY PLAYERS MUST HAVE A UNIFORM.

Can I play up an age group?

Players in the Academy will be placed in their proper age group. The Academy Director may move a 9U player into the 10U age group if he/she feels that it is developmentally appropriate.


The meeting will be offered on two dates and will be announced well in advance. Players may not start training until their parent(s) have attended an orientation meeting. At these meetings, we will explain the details of how the program works, the learning environment that we provide for our young players, and the responsibilities of HFC and Academy Families. 

Helpful Links

Academy Staff Contact

Hasani McKenzie - HFC Academy Director of Coaching & Player Development
[email protected]

Benjamin Lloyd - HFC Academy Assistant Director of Coaching & Player Development
[email protected]

Academy 9U/10U Program Info

Click here for a detailed overview of our 9U/10U Academy Program

Academy 11U/12U Program Info

Click here for a detailed overview of our 11U/12U Academy Program

Cost of Academy

Click here to learn about the cost of Academy

Contact Us:

Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association, Inc.

ABYSA/HFC PO Box 895 Asheville NC 28802-0895 

[email protected]

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