League initiative aims to increase diversity in professional soccer coaching through residencies
Greenville, SC and Tampa, FL (January 24, 2024)- Greenville Liberty Soccer Club Head Coach and Technical Director, Julie Carlson was announced as member of the United Soccer League’s Pro Preseason Residency Program as the league launched its new signature Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, USL Forward. This multi-dimensional, leaguewide initiative prioritizes professional development for technical staff, league and club executives, and local communities with the intention of increasing racial and gender diversity in leadership roles throughout the USL ecosystem.
USL Forward addresses a widely-recognized issue in global professional soccer – the lack of diversity among technical staff and executive positions. To start, USL Forward has created a new Pro Preseason Residency (PPR) Program to provide promising coaches with new, experiential opportunities to pursue their aspirations of coaching at the professional level. USL Forward also creates a platform for the USL and its member clubs to innovate and lead in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion for the betterment of the game and the industry.
“The opportunity the USL Forward Pro residency program provides is a step for coaches, like me, a female coach, to invest in our craft as a leader and as a football coach to build ourselves a pathway for pro coaching opportunities in our country and worldwide,” said Carlson. “Coaching male or female athletes, the pro level must embrace more diversity and inclusion of female coaches in the pro coaching arena. I believe this residency program creates a platform of training and educational investment for us to dive into the business side as well as the on the field training & leadership needed to be successful at the pro level.”
Over the past eight months, the USL has conducted extensive research and qualitative interviews with stakeholders and subject matter experts, including the United Black Players of the USL, across the American soccer and global sports landscapes to understand the numerous factors that affect BIPOC and women candidates seeking leadership opportunities on the sideline and the front office.
At its launch, USL Forward will focus on coaching development. Kicking off in February, in conjunction with the start of preseason for USL Championship and League One clubs, the USL Pro Preseason Residency (PPR) Program is designed to affect positive change through new professional development opportunities. Additionally, USL Forward will create opportunities for coaching education assistance. Carlson will spend the League One preseason with the Triumph and new men’s head coach Rick Wright as the club prepares for its sixth season.
USL Pro Preseason Residency (PPR) Program:
With 2024 serving as its pilot year, the PPR Program is designed to identify high-performing, pro-aspiring BIPOC and women coaches and place them in a professional environment with an established curriculum. The participating coaches will receive immersive experience and real-world training as they work alongside pro-level head coaches and technical staff.
The program has three distinct phases, beginning with the USL Championship and League One preseason, and continuing through the end of the USL pro seasons. Phase One involves experiential professional environment immersion. Phase Two provides touchpoints with mentors at regular intervals during the calendar year. In Phase Three, PPR participant coaches provide feedback on the program and prepare to help mentor a new class of resident coaches for the following year.
Each year, resident coaches will be selected based on several criteria such as, but not limited to, licensed at the USSF-B or UEFA-B level or above, or seeking USSF or UEFA Pro License, demonstrated record of success in player development or coaching at the pre-professional or Academy level within USL, and representing a currently underrepresented group among technical staffs in the USL ecosystem. In this pilot year, the five resident coaches were nominated and selected by USL Sporting and DEI departments in collaboration with participating clubs. Beginning in year two, there will be an open application process for the PPR Program.
The Greenville Triumph SC will begin its preseason training in early February. The 2024 League One regular season kicks off March 9th. Carlson continues to build the Greenville Liberty’s roster ahead of its third season, which begins in early May.