The Massachusetts Premier League, otherwise known as MAPLE Soccer, was formed in 1993 with the goal of providing the highest level of competition to any team who wants it. It’s affiliated with and sanctioned by Mass Youth Soccer, US Youth Soccer, US Soccer, and FIFA. Today, there are more than 500 teams from 95 clubs participating within MAPLE’s competitive structure. Teams range from highly selective to developmental in nature, while clubs range from very large, full-service organizations to smaller outfits fielding one or two teams. MAPLE Soccer’s tiered structure is designed to provide appropriately challenging competition for them all.
As far as soccer leagues for kids go, in Massachusetts it’s really MAPLE to head to first. Any team can try its hand at MAPLE play as there is no residency, club or organizational affiliation, experience or other prerequisites of any kind. This is entirely a merit-based structure as you can advance through the program based solely on your team’s performance on the field.
[US Club Soccer had not really been around when MAPLE started; they wanted to meet the competitive needs of the private club soccer program in Massachusetts. Since then there are now other programs specifically designed for the much more competitive premier soccer player; in other words MAPLE is no longer the only game-in-town for the super elite player in Mass. For example, MPS is not a MAPLE member as they choose to play in the New England Premiership.]
MAPLE games are all on Sundays with the younger teams playing in the morning and older kids later in the day; the Fall season (U10-U14 teams) is about three months long starting the first Sunday after Labor Day. The Spring season (U10-U18 players) is about seven weeks, ending in June
Player development is the primary goal of all Massachusetts club soccer teams. MAPLE, a true kids soccer league, believes that healthy competition complements this purpose. Any team can play in the league, and their progress through the program depends solely on their successes on the field.
Boys and girls U10 through U13 play in the Developmental Division, where the focus is on providing challenge with less of an emphasis on winning and standings. This division is open to all teams who apply, and no standings are kept at all at the U10 level. For U11 through U13, standings are kept, but have no bearing on placement or play within the division.
The higher age groups are where MAPLE League Soccer gets more competitive in nature. There are 3 Divisions. Division 1 offers the highest level of competition for boys and girls U14 to U18. These teams typically have state cup aspirations and abilities. Division 2 is made up of teams making their way through the system, vying for a spot in Division 1. Division 3 is open to new teams and teams looking for an opportunity to play their way up to the higher levels. The top teams in the lower levels have the opportunity to move up the following year, while the bottom finishers move down a division.
Visit the MAPLE website for more information.
- teams play mostly Mass-based clubs so travel is minimal (so why did I do NH last week and Rhode Island the week before that?!)
- well organized, strong communication and good and current information on website; lots of transparency
- clear leveling of competitiveness
- MAPLE will most likely be a collection of smaller clubs as the elite and premier clubs move into other leagues
- soon, too, the competition will be marginally better than you local town team; see Town or Club Soccer? Pros and Cons of Each
- there may be less stability in the clubs and many more consolidations
- timing of state cup dictates schedule and shortens the season along with weather in the region