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COLUMBUS – Columbus Crew’s arm of soccer programming targeting youth soccer players ages four to 14, Crew Youth, today announced the launch of the new Youth Partnerships Program, comprised of two programs -the Crew Network program and Academy Affiliate program, which will see the Club work alongside existing youth soccer organizations. Crew Youth is committed to fostering a sense of community in Columbus and the Midwest by engaging with individuals and organizations through the sport of soccer and has launched its new website, TheCrewYouth.com. In celebration of today’s announcement, Crew Youth provided nearly 200 campers and parents from the Crew Youth Training Camp with a tour of Lower.com Field on Thursday. Following the tour, Crew Youth hosted an awards ceremony for the campers at the stadium’s River Club.

“As a Club, we aim to ignite an unrelenting passion for soccer in our community, and that is something that begins at the youth level,” said Columbus Crew President & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “By working with youth soccer organizations both in Columbus and in the Midwest region, our hope is to use soccer as a vehicle through which we can effect positive change in our community and deepen the love for the game.”

The Crew Network is focused on the greater Columbus area and gives youth players, coaches, parents and administrators access to unique experiences and opportunities. Additionally, network clubs receive both technical and commercial benefits from the Crew, such as player training opportunities, access to the Crew’s coaching staff, as well as increased brand exposure. The Academy Affiliate program, another branch of Crew Youth, allows youth clubs outside of the Columbus market the opportunity to align with a Major League Soccer professional team, receive technical benefits, and complete the professional player pathway from the Crew Academy.

“We are excited about the collection of clubs and organizations who have joined our Crew Network and Academy Affiliate programs as we have recognized that we are stronger when we work together to grow the game. Our Crew Network and Academy Affiliate programs are just beginning, and we hope to expand both,” said Columbus Crew Director of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development Dante Washington. “With that in mind, we are in the process of hiring a Youth Partnerships Technical Director to oversee our programs as they continue to grow and expand. Ultimately, our goal is to support and partner with groups in the Columbus area who have youth that are interested in playing soccer, whether it be travel soccer teams or local community centers.”

The Crew Network is comprised of various local youth soccer organizations, with the network's pilot organizations being Columbus East FC, Columbus East Soccer Association, Dublin United Soccer Club, Final Third Foundation, Northwest FC, Ohio Premier, Olentangy United, Sporting Columbus; Upper 90 Management (Barca Academy Columbus, Classics Eagles, SuperKick); and Worthington United

Michigan Wolves’ MLS Next Academy teams are set be the first Academy Affiliate for Columbus Crew. The Michigan Wolves has over 40 years of experience in developing Michigan's best players and teams. They instill a love for the game in their young players and cultivate that passion as each athlete matures.

“In addition to our 14-year Corporate Partnership with Columbus Crew, Upper 90 Management is thrilled that our Barca Academy Columbus and Classics Eagles club soccer programs, as well as our SuperKick facility will be inaugural members of the Crew Network,” said Upper 90 Management Chief Executive Officer Jim Waters. “We look forward to building on our already strong relationship with Columbus Crew to enhance opportunities for our players, families, coaches and community to engage with our hometown MLS Club.”

The Crew’s opening match at Lower.com Field is scheduled to take place on Saturday, July 3 with the Club hosting the New England Revolution [5:00 p.m. ET / ESPN / 97.1 The Fan & 971thefan.com (English); ColumbusCrew.com(Spanish)]. Supporters are encouraged to arrive early to Saturday’s match.

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