The numbers are staggering.
Since its founding in 1994, Slammers FC hasn’t simply had its hand on the pulse of women’s football in the US, it’s been the heartbeat.
17 national titles.
3 world titles.
3-time overall champions of the Elite Club National League – twice in the last six seasons.
7 of the last 11 NCAA championship-winning captains.
Countless collegiate and professional players including World Cup winner Christen Press.
And the list of accolades goes on.
Established as a national powerhouse and beginning to garner attention worldwide, Slammers FC formed a partnership with another emerging giant in youth soccer development in 2015. Naturally, it took a legend of the women’s game to make it happen.
“When Mia came to me, it was a no-brainer,” said Slammers FC founder Ziad Khoury.
“We were all-in from the start. We look at the game the same and shared the same vision.”
The Mia in question, of course, was Mia Hamm. The two-time World Cup winner, four-time NCAA champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and LAFC owner has known Khoury for years and previously been a part of the Slammers coaching staff. Before the completion of Banc of California Stadium, before LAFC even had a single player, Hamm brought the idea of a partnership to Khoury.
“Mia and Nomar [Garciaparra] are like family. I know Mia from back in her North Carolina days. She’s always looked at women’s soccer with a competitive edge like her North Carolina teams,” Khoury said. “That’s a lot like the mentality we have at Slammers, to be aggressive and execute on the big stage. So, a partnership with her and Nomar and LAFC was natural.”
LAFC was in the infancy of creating its own Academy team at the time and after Khoury met with LAFC President Tom Penn for dinner, the LAFC Slammers became reality.
“Mia is such a hero in the entire American soccer landscape, especially with young girls and women. We’re so blessed and honored to have her as a partner,” Penn said of the partnership between LAFC and LAFC Slammers. “She’s so supportive of girls development and, I believe, very proud of this affiliation with Slammers FC.”
The idea then, as it remains today, was to partner the clubs in a shared passion for youth development through the world’s game. On the surface, Slammers and LAFC are intertwined by the name “LAFC Slammers” in addition to the team’s Black & Gold colors and logos. But it’s through the philosophy of the two clubs that the partnership thrives. As Khoury puts it, “we’re their wing in the women’s side of the game.”
With LAFC Slammers in Orange County and LAFC in Los Angeles, the clubs’ partnership covers a wide swath of a talent hotbed. Through the collaboration, the clubs have been able to identify and groom elite talent that is already making a name for itself on the world stage.
“We wanted to contribute to the development of talent in our region and the Slammers were such a natural fit for us because they represented best in class,” Penn said of the partnership. “They were, and still are, the premier girls club in the country and therefore the world.”
When Mexico and the US square off on in the Concacaf U20 Championship final, fittingly on International Women’s Day, three of the 22 players on the pitch will be products of LAFC Slammers – US captain Jenna Nighswonger and Mexico forwards Gabi Juarez and Destinee Manzo.
Since the partnership, LAFC Slammers have continued to do what they do best: win. The club won the U18/19 Academy title in the first season of the partnership and had five teams in the ECNL semis or finals in the next season – one of the club’s three ECNL titles came that season. Two members of this year’s national title-winning Stanford soccer team played their club soccer with LAFC Slammers.
Beyond the pitch, the Khoury and LAFC are also aligned in how the partnership can help youth players for years to come.
“We have a shared vision. LAFC and LAFC Slammers are great brands of football but we also never lose that final destination when it comes to youth development,” Khoury said. “Our goal is getting kids to college, giving them that option.
“We want to create great people, too.”