This season, every team in the Liga MX Femenil will form a youth squad comprised of players under the age of 17. The goal is to develop home-grown players at each club that will nurture first-team women’s football throughout Mexico.
Initially planned for last season, the project faced delays due to the pandemic. Then in May, league president Mikel Arriola reiterated the league’s desire for growth during the Liga MX owners meeting.
Details of the plan remained scarce until last week when FMF State of Mind confirmed the youth league’s scheduled launch. Teams will begin official play during the 2022 closing tournament, which will commence in January. The tournament will be broken into two groups based on proximity.
Until then, several of the 18 Liga MX Femenil teams will work to build their U17 squads from the ground up. Various friendlies will then take place later this fall to prepare teams for the official launch in January.
An emphasis on the future
The Liga MX Femenil has never existed without an emphasis on youth football. Though this will be the first time that every club is required to field a U17 team, competition regulations have addressed the topic of youth football since the league’s inception in 2016.
Article 27 of the league’s 2021/22 bylaws state that each club must utilize minors for at least 1,000 minutes of play during each tournament. Clubs that fail to meet the requirements of Article 27 will receive a three-point deduction in the league table.
While less formally, some clubs have already taken youth football initiatives to the next level. Both 2021 Guard1anes finalists, Tigres and Chivas, have previously established their own youth academy systems.
For many, utilizing such academies is the best way for clubs to become more self-sufficient. This includes not only nurturing players for first-team football, but also developing a pipeline for coaches and club staff.
“We are at the threshold of a new era where there are well-defined plans to capitalize, to generate value in the brand,” said Mariana Gutiérrez, technical director of the Liga MX Femenil. “What’s more is that the U17 tournament is forthcoming, which will help to gain experience in all positions.”
Since Mexico’s second-place finish at the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, there’s been an added emphasis on the importance of youth football in the country. Now, the Liga MX Femenil can firmly say this emphasis has reached the club level.