Beginning in the fall 2005 season, the "Academy league" (referred to in some other leagues as “Rec+” or "Rec Plus") was created by our parent organization, and AHFSH began offering players in the U-9 and U-10 age groups the opportunity to participate in this new program. This program was subsequently referred to as the "Developmental League." Beginning in the fall 2009 season, this program will be referred to as the "Recreational Academy" as provided by our state association. We have prepared the following description of the program and answers to what we believe will be the most frequently asked questions.
What is the Recreational Academy?
The AHFSH Recreational Academy (formerly known both as "the Academy League" and/or "the Developmental League") was created to allow those players who are not yet old enough to participate in the league's “competitive” or “select” soccer program, known as the Fire Club, the opportunity to receive professional training and play with and against players who also wish to play at a more competitive level of recreational soccer. Although the program is developed for those who desire a more intensive level of training and play, the goal of the program is to develop all players within the program, not to develop teams with winning records. In fact, there are no standings kept within the Recreational Academy league, which further's the purpose of the program in developing individual skills. Certainly, providing players with the training that they need to be successful is a goal of the program, but training and position assignment will be focused on developing the skills of each player, not achieving a winning record for the team. All teams in the AHFSH Recreational Academy will play under the “Fire Junior” name, just as all of the AHFSH Fire teams play under the “Fire” name.
Who can play in the Recreational Academy?
Fire Jr. teams are open to all players who are eligible to play in the U-9 and U-10 age groups. Beginning in the Fall 2009 season, U-8 players are also permitted to play in the Recreational Academy.
How often will Recreational Academy teams practice?
The Recreational Academy players will train with the professional trainers approved by AHFSH and the volunteer coach selected for the team for one hour per practice, twice per week. Additional skill or positional training, e.g ., goalkeeper training, will be offered as well, which training players are encouraged (but not required) to attend. Such additional training is included within the cost of participation in the program.
Who are the professional trainers that were approved by the league?
AHFSH uses qualified trainers from the San Antonio area. The AHFSH Recreational Academy is supervised by our Director of Training, Steve Jennings. Steve has been involved in coaching for twenty years and has attained the highest licenses in coaching at both the senior and junior levels, currently holding both a USSF “A” license and a National Youth License. Since coming to the United States from Liverpool, England, where he played soccer at the semi-pro level with Kirby Town Football Club, he has been actively involved with coaching and developing not only many of South Texas’ players, but also many of the coaches who are currently training players in our state. Steve has served as the Director of Coaching for the South Texas Youth Soccer League (which oversees youth soccer for all US Youth Soccer – affiliated leagues in the southern part of the state), he has coached both girls and boys’ teams in Texas’ Olympic Development Program, and he has coached teams that have won State Championships at every level.
Against whom will the Recreational Academy teams play?
Our Fire Jr. teams play against Recreational Academy teams from other soccer leagues in San Antonio and surrounding areas. As a result, games will not be limited to Fort Sam Houston, and players will be expected to travel to games in San Antonio and other local municipalities, e.g ., Boerne, Bulverde, New Braunfels, San Marcos. Additionally, Recreational Academy teams are encouraged to play in various tournaments during the course of the seasonal year.
Where will the Recreational Academy teams practice and play?
Fire Jr. teams will typically practice at the AHFSH training fields on Fort Sam Houston. Home games will be held at Fort Sam Houston. Away games will be played at the fields used by the associations against whom the games are scheduled.
How much playing time can players expect during the games?
Fire Jr. teams will observe the “half game” rule, which provides that each player should be permitted to play at least one-half of each game. Exceptions to this rule include player injury and disciplinary matters.
How will teams be formed?
Players will be admitted to the Recreational Academy program based on a first-come, first-served basis. Team assignments will be made as required by the rules of our parent associations. To the extent permitted by such rules, AHFSH will consider player requests related to team assignment, whether to play with a certain player or coach.
May I request to play with some of my friends?
Requests to play on the same team with another player may be considered where such request does not interfere with the goal of player development and the rules of our parent associations, but there is no guarantee that such requests will be met.
May I request a specific coach?
Coaches will be assigned to teams after they are formed as described previously. As a result, and because of the rules governing team formation for all Recreational Academy teams, there is no guarantee that requests for a specific coach will be met.
Do players have to participate in the Recreational Academy to participate in the Fire Club?
No. The Recreational Academy is not a prerequisite to participation in the Fire Club, which is open to players beginning at Under-11. Given the stated goal of the Recreational Academy to develop player skills, however, those playing on a Fire Jr. team may be better qualified to participate in the Fire Club once they are old enough to try out for such teams. Additionally, it is possible that a trainer's familiarity with a player as a result of that player's participation on a Fire Jr. team could benefit that player when he/she participates in tryouts for a Fire team.
Is there recreational soccer available for those who do not wish to play in the Recreational Academy?
Yes. AHFSH is committed to offering our players the opportunity to play at the level that best suits their particular needs. As a result, we will continue to offer traditional recreational soccer for those playing in all age groups from U-5 through U-10.
What is the cost of participation in the Recreational Academy?
The total cost of participation (which currently includes registration fee, uniform fee and training fee) is established by the Board prior to the fall season and is subject to change in future seasons. Registration fees are charged on a per season basis, as opposed to a "seasonal year" basis; as a result, the applicable fee must be paid for the fall season, and the applicable fee must again be paid in the spring season. A summary of registration fees is available on the Fees and Refunds page.
Is financial assistance available for those who register to play in the Recreational Academy?
Yes. AHFSH currently offers financial assistance and payment plans for Fire Jr. players. Request for Financial Assistance forms (available on the Fire Club page) should be completed and forwarded to Joel Guerra, who serves as the Chairperson of the Financial Assistance Committee. Requests for a payment plan should be directed to our Registrar, Kathi Graf, who will have to assist you when registering.
How do I register for the Recreatinal Academy?
Players can register through the online registration system during open registration or by contacting the Director of Training or appropriate age-group commissioner following the close of registration, if positions are available on a roster.
May I choose to play recreational soccer after registering for the Recreational Academy?
Once a player has registered for a Fire Jr. team and the season has begun, that player will not be permitted by our governing associations to play recreational soccer during that season. As a result, parents and players should carefully consider whether they are committed to the more rigorous training schedule and style of play, the additional expense and the increased travel associated with Recreatinal Academy play before registering.
Where may I obtain additional information regarding the Recreational Academy?
Additional information may be obtained by contacting the Director of Training, Steve Jennings.