Women's Soccer News: Maryland Capitols FC Join Women’s Premier Soccer League for 2012 Season
The Maryland Capitols FC will become one of the newest teams in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) when they take to the pitch for the 2012 season. The team will play at the Prince Georges Sports Complex in Landover, Maryland, and will be the second WPSL team in the state, along with ASA Chesapeake Charge which will move to the new WPSL Elite League. The team looks to establish a strong presence in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia.
David Jones, CEO and Head Coach of the Maryland Capitols, is no stranger to the WPSL, having been involved with the Philadelphia Pirates from 2005 to 2006, before joining the U.S. Army. After several years serving overseas, Jones returned to the United States and is now stationed at Bethesda Naval Hospital. Seeing the opportunity in the region, he contacted the WPSL about a new franchise.
“I came back in April of 2011 and got back in touch with the WPSL,” Jones explained, “mainly because there was a niche market with Washington Freedom not being around. I understood that Chesapeake Charge were already in the WPSL, but they were further north than us and I felt there was certainly room to bring a team into South Maryland.”
Jones has a long background with the beautiful game, having grown up in England and played in the Manchester United youth system. He was one of the youngest professional players to compete in the Hong Kong First Division, at the age of 16, and later played with Stockport County and Chester City in England and Tenerife in the Spanish B League. In 2000 Jones had the opportunity to play in the MLS in New York, but tore his ACL, effectively ending his playing career.
In the meantime, Jones had earned his UEFA A License and had already coached before coming to the United States. After leaving New York, he helped the South Jersey Barons with their W-League franchise. Then in 2005 came the opportunity with the WPSL.
“I felt the women’s teams weren’t really getting the exposure and the level of competition they needed,” Jones explained, “so I looked into other alternatives at that time. The WPSL was a natural progression to go into. Being in Philadelphia, a hotbed of soccer, we established a team there in the WPSL and actually proved to be quite successful.”
For Jones, the WPSL was the right choice for women’s soccer. “I liked the way they did things and I liked their branding strategy,” he said. “I also liked the fact that it was women’s soccer first and foremost. I appreciated the infrastructure that they had put in place and the level of competition and how that worked. You want to be involved in something that works and is successful.”
|Maryland Capitols President Mario Repole (L) and CEO/Coach David Jones (C) pose with WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli at the leagues Annual General Meeting in Las Vegas.
Asked about his goals for the Maryland Capitols, Jones said that he hoped to establish the local brand in the Washington D.C. Metro area as an alternative to the DC United Women in the W-League. Although they are not directly affiliated with DC United of the MLS, being owned by Northern Virginia Majestics, the W-League team has a strong start with name recognition and the fact that they play at the same site that Washington Freedom used to play.
“For us it’s important to get our own identity,” Jones said. “We’re not trying to be Washington Freedom, we’re not trying to be DC United Women, we’re trying to be the premier women’s soccer franchise in the Maryland area.”
“Long term, obviously we want to make sure we establish ourselves in the WPSL as a competitive team,” he continued. “We want to make sure we are able to provide that platform for women players in the DC Metro area who want to come and play soccer. Hopefully we can be that franchise that they want to come to.”
To that end, Maryland Capitols have already begun to reach out to youth soccer clubs in both Northern Virginia and the DC Metro areas. The team wants to develop a local identity that youth players can connect with, and are working with several Washington Freedom alumni who are still in the area. The club also hopes to connect with the University of Maryland, Georgetown, George Mason and other local universities.
“What we’re hoping to do with these players is to produce the next stage of women’s soccer heroes for the local youth clubs,” said Jones. “And we’re hoping to reignite the support that Washington Freedom had.”
Looking ahead for the league, Jones sees much success coming for the WPSL. He is particularly impressed with their ability to establish a league with over 70 teams in a relatively short span of time. The fact that it is a women-only league is important for Jones, as is the league’s emphasis on affordability for both teams and fans.
“They (the WPSL) make it affordable for teams to come in,” Jones said. “They do whatever they need to do support-wise to make sure you have what you need as a platform to bring in the best players in your area and be competitive.”
With drive, dedication and a strong background in women’s soccer, David Jones expects to be a part of the WPSL for many years to come.
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