Hundreds of thousands of young girls play soccer every day on patches of grass across the United States. A generation ago, they dreamed of being just like
--play at North Carolina and become a star on the national team.
Now they can dream even bigger--of being a professional soccer player.
The WPS will start in April of 2009, and teams are currently gobbling up the best players to start constructing a winner.
First was the allocation of the U.S. national team players, which took place in September. Then there was the international draft a short time later. The four-round general draft took place on Oct. 6 and was open to international and domestic players. The drafting will conclude in January with a post-Combine draft that expects to round out the rosters.
The WPS is calculating momentum that will keep it around for the long haul. It just recently signed a multi-year deal with Fox Soccer Channel for television rights. Seven markets are slated to have teams for 2009 (Bay Area, New York/New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.), and two more (Atlanta and Philadelphia) will join in 2010. More expansion is expected, perhaps in Dallas.
And, even more importantly, they have a model to learn from. The WUSA was forced to suspend operations in 2003, and committees were immediately formed to determine the best way to re-launch women's professional soccer in the U.S.
This is their answer. The staying power of WPS remains to be seen, but its efforts will trickle down immediately. After all, it is another chance to inspire thousands of athletic girls wanting to dream just like the boys do.