The Women’s Premier League released their 2014 All-Stars last month, and apart from the many wonderful female soccer players listed, one thing stood apart: its format.
The WPSL does not choose 22 players from across the country, but instead opts for All-Stars by regions, giving every club in the league a chance to nominate at least one player.
WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli says that the league has always been a pacesetter among women’s leagues in the country.
“With over 2,000 players across the country, it would be very difficult to recognize just 22 women,” Zanelli said. “Instead, we want to build up local teams, recognizing players within their own regions.”
The WPSL All-Stars are chosen by regions. There are all 11 regions, and each team in a region is allotted a certain number of All-Stars nominations. The first place team gets the most number of nominations, and so on.
Zanelli says the unique All-Stars format is not the only thing that sets the WPSL apart.
The WPSL is the largest stand-alone women’s soccer league in the country. The league is highly competitive, with no repeat champions in the last eight years. Coaches are encouraged to go out to colleges and universities across the country to scout for potential players.
“The emphasis of our league has always been the advancement of female soccer players,” Zanelli said. “We reach out to college seniors to give them an opportunity to continue playing competitively in one of the many WPSL teams across the country.”
The league also considers itself a “Players First” type of league. Zanelli said that the unique rules of the league, such as unlimited substitutions in a game, are drawn with the athlete’s well-being in mind. Coaches are encouraged to use their substitutions so that players are not fatigued or overworked. The WPSL also recently adopted a new concussion policy to better protect players from serious injuries.
Constant expansion is also one of the many things that sets the WPSL apart. While other leagues try to keep the number of teams down, the WPSL continues to add new members each year.
For the 2015 season, there are already seven new teams confirmed. Five of the new teams are from Virginia and will be forming a new region. The other two, Dallas and Fresno, will be joining the Big Sky and Pacific-North regions respectively. There are also nine other teams in serious talks with the league that could be joining in 2015.