GIG HARBOR, WA— The Western Washington Premier League (WWPL) will roll out a new First Division format in 2021 that features a longer season with more training time and more matches.
2020 in the WWPL was looking like it was going to be an exciting year for players and fans. The member clubs had voted for a promotion and relegation system between the First Division and the Second Division that would have provided a higher level of competition, as well as more opportunities for new clubs. Then, COVID struck.
The WWPL was forced to shut down for 2020 with hopes of reigniting in 2021. During that ‘down time,’ clubs within the WWPL First Division decided it was time to challenge the status quo and reformat the way adult soccer has been running in Washington State.
More Matches, Extended Season
Starting in 2021, the WWPL will feature an extended First Division season (end of March to end of October) instead of the standard late April through July model that many adult amateur leagues feature. No more than three league games will be scheduled per team in a given month. This allows for easier scheduling of Washington State Super Cup games and avoids altogether the dreaded weekend double header.
“We found as a league that a condensed schedule often creates a difficult environment for clubs to perform on and off the pitch, ” WWPL Vice President Trent Siedenburg explains. “It’s tough on the players, but also on the fans and club staff. With our new model, we hope to solve many of those issues and create more opportunities for clubs to showcase what they have to offer.
“As a club owner (Kirkland FC), I am thrilled by this lengthening of the First Division season. I expect the quality of our soccer to improve dramatically from years past. The increased number of trainings this season will be a huge boost to every player which will translate to game day. I believe with this set up we will also be able to provide a better atmosphere for our fans as well.”
Taking July Off
One other major change to the schedule is the league will not schedule any games during the month of July. “We have found this month to be difficult to be around in for players and fans” WWPL President Mitch James says. “The fourth of July and family vacations take up a lot of the month, and we as a league saw the conflict there and want to respect those traditions. This month will also give players and staff some time to rest and regroup for the second half of the season.”
The WWPL First Division will consist of the following teams for the 2021 season:
Snohomish County FC Steelheads (Defending Champions), Kirkland Goats FC, Federal Way FC, Nido Aguila Club America Seattle, Wenatchee All-Stars FC, Harbor Force, Lacey Pocket Gophers FC, and Grays Harbor Gulls FC.
League format For First Division
Eight teams will compete from late March to the end of September in the WWPL First Division. Every team will play each other twice (once at home and once away) for a 14 game season. The team who finishes in first will be crowned WWPL League Champion. The team who finishes last will be relegated to the Second Division for the following season. Once the regular season has ended, the teams in the First Division will play in a knockout style cup in the month of October. The team who wins the Cup will be named WWPL Cup Champion.
James also had this to say about the new format: “We are thrilled to be a leading organization in changing how adult soccer is run. Through an extended season, we see the opportunity for players to have more consistent training, more opportunities to play in games, and have a greater chance to be seen at the next level. On the club and league side, an extended season gives everyone the opportunity to invest in their local communities more frequently throughout the year. This extended format will cater to all players and fans, and we can’t wait to roll it out in 2021.”
The schedule for the upcoming season will be announced late January/early February of 2021.