If you still have questions after reading through this document, please feel free to contact:
Jon Bradley 203-550-6589
Premier teams (as the term is most commonly used) are teams whose players are not limited to a single town and, instead, consist of top players from a number of different towns. Premier soccer is intended for players who have the ability and desire to compete at a higher level than regular Travel soccer. Premier teams are selected based on competitive tryouts and play against other premier teams in Connecticut and beyond. Compared to Travel soccer, Premier soccer generally involves a higher level of competition, a greater time commitment, and a higher cost.
Premier teams are organized by â€œPremier clubs,â€ which field only Premier teams, some Town Travel clubs, and interested parents or coaches. Premier teams that are organized by Premier clubs that have not obtained official CJSA club status or are organized by parents or coaches must be officially sponsored by a CJSA-member club, such as a Town Travel club. Some Premier clubs have all of their teams based in one particular town, while others have their teams based in a number of different towns, depending on where the teamâ€™s players are centered and where they are able to get the use of playing fields.
The DSA does not currently sponsor Premier teams but there are numerous current and former DSA players that have been very successful at playing at this level.
Connecticut Premier clubs in Fairfield County for boys include Beachside, Eastern FC and Everton Premier, and, for girls, the Connecticut Football Club Arsenal, Eastern FC, Everton Premier and Yankee United. (Contact information for most of these clubs can be found at the end of this section).
Premier teams play both a Fall and Spring season, except for high school-aged teams, which play only in the spring in order to allow their players to play for high school teams. The Spring season is the more important of the two, because it includes the CJSA Open Cup tournament. The winner of this tournament represents the CJSA in the USYSA Regional Championships and competes against respective State champions from NJ, PA, NY, and other New England teams. Premier teams frequently start their playing seasons earlier and end them later than Travel teams. Many Premier teams also practice and play in indoor leagues in the winter and have late summer pre-season practices.
The age groups for Premier teams are determined in the same way as for Travel teams -- what age the player is as of the July 31st before the beginning of the playing year. Depending on the policies on the team's organizers, under-aged players can "play up" on an older age division team.
CJSA rules restrict Connecticut full premier league competition and the Premier Team State Championship Tournament (Open Cup) to the U13 and above age groups but is now also sanctioning league competition for Developmental Premier team at U12 and younger.
Many Premier clubs have formed "Premier Development teams" in the U11 to U12 age groups. These programs may be "full-time" or "part time" depending on the Club and age group. "Full time" development programs function much like a regular Premier team and play a full schedule of games (e.g., against other Premier Development teams and Travel teams) and tournaments. "Part time" programs allow players to remain with their Travel Teams while doing supplemental training, games and tournaments with their Developmental Premier Team.
The Southwest District runs training sessions during the U12 year (Fall/Winter/Spring) that are intended to assist a player in preparation for Premier at U13, while they continue to play on their U12 Travel team.
Premier competition continues up through the U19 age division.
Boys and girls play on separate teams and in separate leagues.
During the Spring and Fall seasons, a list of the teams currently competing in CJSA-sponsored Premier leagues can be found on the CJSA web site. Premier teams usually have a roster of 14-18 players.
Tryouts/Selection for Teams
Each club or other organizer of a Premier team establishes its own selection procedures for picking players for the teams it organizes. The selection process generally involves a player evaluation based on an annual tryout and other information about the player that the team coach and others involved in the selection process may have (e.g., from prior observation of the player during games). Tryouts for U-13 and U-14 Premier teams usually take place the week of and after July 4th.. Tryouts for older Premier teams may take place in July and early August and/or during the period from late Fall to early Spring (before the start of the Spring season). Tryouts are generally open to all players eligible to play in the team's age/gender division. Depending on the policies of the team's organizers, under-aged players may try out to "play up" on an older age division team. Most teams are comprised of players from a number of different towns, and the competition at tryouts can be very strong for the most competitive teams. U12 tryouts can take place in July with the U13â€™s and U14â€™s, or at any time in the Spring.
Information about Premier clubsâ€™ summer tryouts is usually posted on the CJSA web site as well as our District web site (www.swdcjsa.org) late each spring. Information about a particular premier clubâ€™s tryouts is also generally available on the clubâ€™s web site (see the â€œLINKSâ€ section of this site for Premier club web site links).
Premier teams are generally coached at practices and games by experienced professional coaches. Premier coaches are frequently High School or College soccer coaches. Coaches are selected by the Premier club or other organizers of the team.
Premier teams generally try to have two or three 1.5-hour practices a week during their active seasons. The practice days and times are set by the team coach, based in part on the coach's schedule and field availability. Practices may be held in the teamâ€™s base town or at other locations in the area.
Connecticut Premier teams generally play in a CJSA-sponsored league against other Connecticut Premier teams in the same age/gender division. League games are generally scheduled for each Sunday during the Fall and Spring seasons (Spring only for U15 to U19), except for holiday weekends. Games may be scheduled for either the morning or the afternoon, depending on field availability. Games are usually played at either a teamâ€™s home field or its opponentâ€™s home field. Since most Premier leagues are state-wide, the travel required for away league games is significantly greater than for travel teams.
Friendly games, or scrimmages, will often supplement a Premier teamâ€™s schedule; to offer as much â€œgameâ€ exposure to a team, as determined by the coach.
Most Premier teams also participate in tournaments throughout the year (except in the Fall season in the case of High School-aged teams), including two or three during the Fall and Spring seasons. Many of these tournaments are in more distant locations than the tournaments typically entered by Travel teams and are frequently in locations such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia.
Another important component of the Premier schedule is the CJSA-run, single elimination Connecticut Open Cup competition held each spring. This tournament is very similar to the State Cup competition for Travel teams, with the exception that the winner of the Connecticut Open Cup goes on to compete in the Regional Championship tournament. In the U14 and older age groups, the winner of the Regional Championship in turn goes on to compete in a National Championship tournament.
As a result of the combination of league games, "friendlies," tournaments and Open Cup, most premier teams end up playing games every weekend during the season (including holiday weekends) and play games on both Saturday and Sunday on most weekends.
Playing time and positions on most Premier teams is left to the discretion of the team coach. On many teams, some players get significantly more playing time than others.
Although players frequently do play in different positions over the course of the year, positions tend to be more fixed than on younger travel teams.
The game rules applicable to Premier teams are the same as those applicable to same age group travel teams. Premier teams play 11v11 on a full-size field. U12 through U15 games consist of two 40-minute halves; while U16 and above games consist of two 45-minute halves. U12 teams play with a size 4 ball; older teams play with a size 5 ball. Other rules generally follow the official FIFA Laws of the Game, except for more liberal substitutions. Like Travel games, games are refereed by certified referees.
The cost of playing on a Premier team can be significantly higher than that of playing on a Travel team. Costs include registration fees payable to the Premier club and/or sponsoring town club ($100-$200 per season), uniforms ($150-$200), coaching fees ($100-$200 per season), and tournament expenses (variable depending on number of tournaments and travel/lodging involved). The biggest difference in cost from a typical Travel team is the cost of travel and lodging for tournaments. For most Premier teams, total costs for a year of play (including travel costs) is in the range of $2500-$3500 per player.
Most Premier clubs have financial aid programs.
Parental involvement in team operations varies from club to club and team to team. Many Premier clubs do not seek significant parental involvement in the operation of their teams and instead handle most team functions by themselves. Other premier teams depend on parent volunteers to handle team functions. Regardless of the team, however, parents are expected to arrange for transportation of their child to and from all games and practices.
Connecticut Premier soccer teams are subject to the rules and regulations of the Connecticut Junior Soccer Association (CJSA). The CJSA, in turn, is a state member organization of, and subject to the rules and regulations of, the US Youth Soccer Association.
For further information about Connecticut Premier soccer, contact the CJSA, the Southwest District of the CJSA, or the individual Premier clubs listed below. (also see the â€œLINKSâ€ section of this site for contact information.)
Suggested Questions to ask a Premier Club
Who will be the Coach (s)?
Is he/she licensed, what license?
Does he/she coach other teams?
How many practices a week?
Specific costs and what they cover?
Is there a Winter program?
What is your philosophy on player playing time?
Premier Clubs Links