April Heinrichs: Women’s football in the CONCACAF region is improving

U.S. Soccer Youth National Teams Director April Heinrichs 

Ahead of the third annual CONCACAF Women’s Football Day to be held on Saturday, November 18, U.S. Soccer Youth National Teams Director April Heinrichs speaks about the preparation and planning of youth teams to increase competitiveness 

  • What has been the legacy of winning the 2016 CONCACAF U-15 Girls’ Championship?

The long-term benefits of our 2001 birth year players competing in the 2016 U-15 Girls’ CONCACAF Championship including being able to start our preparations early for the next U-17 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying cycle. The core of our team has now been together with their coach for nearly three years.

  • Can you please provide an overview of your 18-month preparation cycle?

We will conduct a series of eight-day training camps which include an intra-squad scrimmage during the week and a game against an outside opponent at the end of the week. Our plan is to identify the top 75 players in the country during the first year of the cycle and select the best 18-20 players to represent the USA at the next CONCACAF U-15 Girls’ Championship.

  • Why is this preparation cycle successful?

We are not sure it will be successful, but we believe the processes in place will lead to success.

  • What are the key aspects in creating a women's football movement that encourages more girls to participate in the sport?

Some of the key aspects in creating a women’s football movement that encourages more girls to participating are:

  • Regularly scheduling meaningful competitions for Federations
  • Getting competitions on the calendar makes Federations steer resources towards women’s football and with these resources coaches can prepare their team
  • Creating an Annual Plan that prepares the players and coaches for the upcoming competitions
  • Promoting the competitions to create the best atmospheres for the players
  • How do you perceive women’s football growth within the CONCACAF region?

Every year women’s football in the CONCACAF region is improving. We see more support and programming from other countries and more players are playing in the U.S. every year.  And of course, games across CONCACAF countries are getting more and more competitive every year. 

  • Can you provide insights on the activity that you are planning to conduct as part of the Women’s Football Day celebration?

We will be in camp with our U-17s and U-20s during the Women’s Football Day celebrations and we show support for CONCACAF’s Women Football Day celebration through our various social media channels.