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April 9, 2024, | Courtesy of

RICHMOND, Va. (April 9, 2024) - Following the success of dozens of ECNL alumni representing numerous countries at multiple international events across the world in the past few years, the ECNL is excited to announce the launch of the ECNL Heritage Project.

Director of the ECNL Heritage Project Pat McStay has designed this project to help connect high-level players with foreign heritage to Federations around the world for whom they are eligible to play. The ECNL Heritage Project will help provide additional pathways and opportunities for players currently playing in the ECNL, as well as alumni, who have ties to other countries based on their parents' or grandparents’ place of birth, as well as other factors.

“Based on the presence of ECNL alumni in the Women’s Gold Cup, the Women’s World Cup, and the recent appearance of some ECNL boys in foreign youth national teams, we believe we can use the league as a platform to give more players exposure to and opportunity with additional federations they may be eligible to play for,” McStay said.

At last summer’s Women’s World Cup, current and former ECNL athletes took the field for a number of countries besides the United States, including Colombia, Jamaica, Nigeria, and South Korea. This month, 53 ECNL alums represented 11 different countries in the inaugural Women’s Gold Cup - including 13 who helped raise the championship trophy for the United States.  

The Heritage Project aims to continue to grow these opportunities for players in the ECNL, but McStay says that process can sometimes be difficult and frustrating for players, parents, and clubs to attempt to navigate on their own.  

“Of course we want to see the US National Teams win championships and World Cups in both genders, but there are players in our league who may not be called up to a US team or who may have eligibility with other countries that they would like to explore,” continued McStay.  “Our intent is to provide opportunities for as many players as possible to maximize their potential and to experience the game at the highest possible level, and the Heritage Project is a commitment to do that.”

“Without assistance, the problem that people face is that they don’t have any contacts with Federations or ability to get into the scouting system,” continued McStay.  “What we are trying to do is be the liaison between the Federations and the players so if there’s a player in the ECNL that has opportunities, these Federations can have one contact.”

In a previous role scouting for the Samoan Federation, McStay was able to identify 12 American-based players through online searches and relationships with club directors, demonstrating the value that the ECNL Heritage Project will provide.

Currently, nearly a dozen players have been connected with foreign Federations through the early stages of the ECNL Heritage Project, with McStay building a database of contacts that so far encompasses about 10 percent of FIFA’s 211 national associations. McStay says the Federations that he has gotten in contact with have shown excitement about the project as well.

Through this project and partnering with other Federations around the world, The ECNL Heritage Project is expected to be an important part of the future of scouting ECNL athletes.

If you believe you have a player that fits the criteria of the Heritage Project please fill out The Heritage Project Interest form listed below.

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