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AFC Lightning Henry County

AFC Lightning Henry County

Academy (U9-U12)

The AFC Lightning Academy program is designed for players from 7-11 years old who are ready to take the next step in their soccer development in a fun, competitive, and professional environment. The Academy program is designed to provide players with a foundation of the skills necessary to succeed at the highest levels.

The Academy training program’s curriculum follows the guidelines and recommendations of the Georgia State Soccer Association and United States Soccer Federation. All teams are trained by professionally licensed coaches who continually strive to provide a learning environment where all players can succeed.

The mission of AFC Lightning's Academy program is to provide youth soccer players in our community with a comprehensive complement of opportunities to advance their technical soccer skills in preparation for future success in the Select (U13-U19) age groups and beyond.


Duane Samuels
Director of Coaching 
[email protected]
(404) 503-8024


When are tryouts?

Tryout dates are mandated by Georgia Soccer. Academy tryouts are usually held at the end of May. We recommend that players attend all of the tryout/evaluation days to help the coaching staff identify player’s existing skill levels, strengths, and needs going into the fall season.

Supplemental tryouts or evaluations can be scheduled throughout the year for any player who is not registered in another club’s Academy program, all registered recreational players, or any unregistered players.

Who is eligible?

Any player whose birth date falls in 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 are eligible to play in the U9-U12 program age groups for the 2018-2019 seasonal year.

When and where are the training sessions?

Most Academy teams train 3 times a week on weekdays for 1.5 hrs per training session. Typical times are from 5:30pm to 7:00pm or 7:00pm to 8:30pm at either McCurry Park in Fayetteville, or the Peachtree City Athletic Complex in Peachtree City. Training days, times, and locations may vary from time to time depending on the schedules of the coaches and field availability.

In addition to goalkeeping, striker, and other supplemental training opportunities, AFC’s Academy program has an open training policy for those player who desire to train more frequently.

When and where are the games?

Academy games are voluntarily scheduled between youth soccer clubs in the Metro Atlanta area. Games are typically held on Saturdays and Sundays during the Fall season from early September through mid November and the Spring season from early March to mid May. Generally teams play one game per week, although occasionally players may be asked to play twice at the same location.

In addition to regular season games, Academy teams will participate in 2-4 local tournaments per year.

How are teams/rosters formed?

Players are selected and teams are formed through an evaluation process that takes place prior to the beginning of the fall season. Our coaching staff evaluates players based on the four components of soccer:

1)   Technical   2) Tactical  3) Mental 4)   Physical

Players can earn a position on a Lightning Academy team under the following conditions:

  • Players must possess a minimum level of skill and a maximum level of desire and determination to improve.

  • Players must have regular attendance to training, games, and tournaments.

For training and games, players are placed in pools by skill and ability. This allows for player movement between pools as a player's performance and skill level increases. Training pools will be based on a player to coach ratio in order to provide the optimal environment for proper player development. The pool selection process will be guided by the player’s attitude towards the staff and fellow players and by performance in all games and training sessions. This will be decided at the coach’s discretion and can change from week to week.

What is the Academy’s training philosophy?

The emphasis in training will be on the technical development of the players. This will be accomplished by a maximum number of touches on the ball, getting players comfortable with the ball at their feet, the encouragement of players to be creative and take opponents on, a development of a passion for the game through a fun training environment, and age appropriate tactical knowledge.

What is the difference between Recreation and Academy Soccer?

Deciding whether or not your child should play recreational soccer or competitive (“select”) soccer is often a daunting task for parents not familiar with the world of competitive sports. The primary deciding factor that parents should consider when making the select verses recreation decision is whether or not one wishes to accelerate a child’s soccer development in a professionally guided training environment.

In recreational soccer, the focus is most often on social interaction, “having fun” with friends, which often comes at the expense of instruction. In select soccer, the focus in on teaching in an enjoyable manner that is appropriate for the child’s age level. Individual skills and team tactics are taught by high-level, professional coaches in order to more fully develop the child’s level of play. When it comes to playing at a select level, the end result is young athletes that know how to play soccer at a much higher level than their corresponding recreational players.

What are the differences between Academy and Recreational coaches?

Competitive soccer differs from recreational soccer in several ways, but the primary difference is in the level of coaching provided. Coaching is like teaching – it requires extensive knowledge of the subject and the ability to communicate that knowledge to young athletes. In recreational soccer, the coach is typically a noble parent with little or no competitive or high level soccer experience. Unlike recreation soccer, Academy coaches are experts in their field, skilled communicators and teachers, and are paid a professional salary.

Competitive soccer coaches have extensive playing experience – most at the professional level. Select coaches are licensed at a national level, most at Grade D or higher, and many have college degrees in education or sports related degrees. Their training will have included proper individual player and team techniques, how to conduct efficient practices, and how to motivate a young athlete.

Most Recreational coaches are volunteers. Select coaches are interviewed and go through an extensive selection process before they are hired by the club. They are paid from dues collected from the team and for many, coaching is their full-time job.


AFC Lightning Henry County
75 Monarch Village Way 
Stockbridge, Georgia 30281

Phone: 470-222-5171
Email: [email protected]

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