skip navigation

U8 Diamond League & Select Pre-Travel

U8 Pre-Travel / Diamond League Summary (Scroll Further Down For The Detailed Explanations)

Here's an overview of what's in store for your child heading into their U8 soccer season:

  • Formation of U8 Pre-Travel Teams: We will introduce one boys' team and one girls' team for our U8 Pre-Travel category. These teams will participate in a regional league, playing 6-8 games over the season.
  • Evaluation Process: Player evaluations occurred during the final weeks of our current U7 intramural sessions. There will be no formal tryouts, ensuring a stress-free environment for our young athletes.  Invitations to the Select Pre-Travel teams have been sent along with registration details.
  • Intramural Program Enhancements: Players not selected for Pre-Travel will join the new U8 Diamond League. This includes two Saturday games (25 minutes each) in a consistent time slot (1:45pm-3pm) and participation in club-to-club festivals (typically a few Sundays during the season).
  • Training Focus: Both Pre-Travel and Diamond League players will continue receiving tailored training during weekday sessions, focusing on skill development and game understanding.  Schedules for pre-travel teams will be determined as we get closer to the season (based on trainer and field availability).  The Boys U8 Diamond League teams will practice on Thursdays from 4-5pm, and the Girls U8 Diamond League teams will practice on Thursdays from 5-6pm, in each case either at Sousa or Manorhaven School (final schedule TBD).

What to Expect:

  • Pre-Travel Teams: Selected through evaluations, focusing on readiness for a slightly more competitive play environment.
  • Diamond League: Offers a robust intramural experience with the introduction of regular Saturday league games in a small-sided 4v4 format and optional festival participation.
  • No Cuts Philosophy: Every U7 player is automatically considered for the Pre-Travel teams based on season-long observations, ensuring that every child is placed in a program that matches their developmental stage.

Detailed Updates:

Program Evolution: Our U8 program has been carefully redesigned over the past few years, focusing on creating a nurturing and enjoyable environment that prepares players for future competitive play. Under the guidance of our Director of Coaching, Gerneil "Jigsy" Lorne, our approach has shifted towards smaller, focused training groups to enhance player development.

Why These Changes? The shift to an earlier introduction of travel soccer has prompted us to create a more structured environment for our U8 players. Our goal is to foster a love for the game while equipping players with the necessary skills and experiences. This strategy helps avoid the pressure of early specialization while promoting long-term development and enjoyment.

Looking Ahead: We're excited to watch our young athletes grow and excel in the U8 program. This structure not only prepares them for the eventual transition to travel soccer but also ensures they enjoy every step of their soccer journey.

Diamond League Meaning: Jigs refers to this type of league as it's where players begin to learn the game in a 4v4 format - the players use a diamond shape in this format, and as they get older and more players are added to the field, the shape expands from the original 4-corner diamond.

We thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for our club's programs. Please feel free to reach out to us at information@portsoccerclub.com if you have any questions or need further clarification on the upcoming season.

If you would like to request a scholarship (NEED BASED ONLY), please do so BEFORE registering for the program.

More Details - The “Why”

U8 has traditionally been a tricky year, as it’s one year from actual “travel soccer”.  FYI, only a few years ago, travel soccer started at U10, so the pressure to create competitive soccer environments keeps pushing to younger ages (even as soccer and youth sports experts criticize this trend).  The U8 program structure we’ve come up with has evolved with a great deal of thought and examination of what’s worked well and what hasn’t over the past few years, as the club has grown.  Whereas a few years ago we struggled to get 10-15 players to join a U9 travel team and we had no “pre-travel” teams, we now have many more families interested in making the leap to U9 travel (or U8 pre-travel) soccer.  We love that there’s such enthusiasm for soccer in Port Washington!  But, with guidance from Jigs, we’re also focused on putting players in the most developmentally-appropriate situation.  If we push players too hard, too early, they may lose their love of the game, and stop playing altogether.  The development also suffers if players are put into the wrong (i.e., overly competitive) situation, in our view.  The primary goal at our U4-U8 age groups is to have FUN in a safe and nurturing environment — the skills and knowledge develop over time.  Every player develops at their own unique pace, and we celebrate that, knowing that our evaluations on players tend to shift quite a bit over the course of many years.

With that in mind, and to the (unfortunate) chagrin of some parents in recent years, we’ve intentionally limited the number of players who participate in our “Select U8 Pre-Travel” program, and plan to continue to do so, as we believe that format of competitive league-type play is only suited to a limited set of players at this young age (we are not alone in that belief, rest assured).  Sure, we could appease the demand and form 3-5 pre-travel teams, and place them into the one or two U8-specific leagues (that can only realistically accommodate 1 team from each club) or into regular travel soccer leagues playing up to U9 age groups (since the leagues mostly start at U9), but since we are a nonprofit in healthy financial shape, we have the luxury to do what we believe is right for the players, first and foremost.  Thus, we plan to continue to limit the Select U8 Pre-Travel Program to one boys team and one girls team for next fall.

More Details - The “What”

There will be no formal, separate ‘tryout’ for the U8 Select Pre-Travel Teams (and no ‘cuts’, to be clear); rather, we will be implementing an evaluation process during the last 2 weeks of our regular intramural sessions this season, and will invite a small group of players that Jigs and his staff deem to be ready for that program.  This eliminates any anxiety for players that they are at a ‘tryout’, and they can just enjoy their sessions as usual, while we’ll have additional Jigs Soccer staff running evaluations during those sessions.  We will be utilizing TeamGenius evaluation software, which is what we’ve been using with great success for our travel team tryouts for the past few years.  Thus, you’ll likely see training staff on their phones, as they input notes and data directly into the system from the TeamGenius app - they are not surfing social media!  The only other difference may be that players are provided numbered pinnies during those sessions, to make it easier for training staff to identify players.

With this format, ALL current U7 intramural players will be evaluated for consideration for our boys and girls Select U8 Pre-Travel teams, although there is no obligation to accept any invitation.  The selection process will only be open to players already in our intramural program this season (thus, no need for a separate ‘tryout’).  We cannot stress enough that families of players not selected for the pre-travel team should not assume: (1) their player will develop their soccer skills slower, (2) their player will be at a disadvantage heading into U9 travel the following year, (3) their player will not be eligible for a specific U9 travel team the following year, or (4) their player won’t have a great time playing soccer next fall in our Diamond League and club-to-club festivals.  If you want your player to have fun and develop at the appropriate pace, we hope you will trust the club and Jigs to steer him or her in the right direction, at the correct pace. 

And what of the players not ‘selected’?  That’s where the big change comes in for next year, with a new league and exciting opportunities for all players in the program to participate in Long Island Junior Soccer League’s club-to-club festivals outside of Port Washington (unless we are hosting that particular festival).

Over the first 1-2 weeks of the fall season, Jigs and his staff will continue evaluations of all players in the U8 program, and will form teams of 6-8 players per team, with the intent to balance out the rosters as best as possible based on their evaluations.  Each player will be assigned to a team for the fall season, and all players will participate in a “house” Diamond League every Saturday (from 1:45pm-3pm).  There will no longer be a Sunday option for the U8 program, so that we can hold our league games each Saturday, and leave Sundays open for the club-to-club festivals.  Each team will play 2 games (20-25 minutes each) during the regular Saturday U8 time slot, with games played on our intramural fields, 4v4 format with no goalies (note that this is the US Soccer Federation’s recommended format for this age group, not just something we’ve come up with).  Games will be reffed/coached/managed by Jigs and club staff, with subs on the fly, and with procedures in place to account for teams that are short players that day, to ensure all games are played each week.  All players will wear the regular intramural reversible uniform kit for their games.

The weekday sessions (at either Sousa or Manorhaven School, 4-5pm for boys, and 5-6pm for girls) will continue a similar format as we have done in past seasons, with drills and scrimmages.  However, there will be no “Pods” for the U8 program, and players will train with their assigned teams.  There will be no teammate requests; all players will be assigned to teams as determined by Jigs and his staff.

BONUS OPTION FOR DIAMOND LEAGUE PLAYERS!  In addition to the U8 Diamond League, all players will have the opportunity to participate in one or more “festivals” hosted by the Long Island Junior Soccer League.  These are fun mini-tournaments for the youngest age groups, with clubs bringing 1-4 boys and girls teams to participate in the event.  Each team plays 2-3 games, 25 minutes each, in the same 4v4 (no goalie) format as our Diamond League.  Games are typically in Nassau County, and occasionally the PWSC hosts these events as well.  In the past, this option was reserved exclusively for our Select Pre-Travel teams, but we are opening this option to our entire U8 Diamond League program, at no additional cost.  This is a great way to get a taste of competition against other clubs, without the commitment or ongoing pressure of that competitive environment.

More Details - The History / How We Got Here

First, some history on our intramural program.  In the immediate pre-covid era, the intramural program was much smaller (only around 150-175 players total, in all boys and girls age groups), and less structured.  It was still fun for players, but, to be honest, it did not prepare players for travel soccer as much as we had hoped.  Our travel program only rolled out 1-2 boys teams and usually only 1 girls team, which is not enough for each age group to continue fielding teams for many years (particularly as we go from 7v7 (U9-10) to 9v9 (U11-12) to 11v11 (U13+) soccer).  A by-product of those past issues is that we currently have only 1 boys team and 2 girls teams in the high school age groups - clearly not ideal.

Covid hit, and forced us to evaluate the intramural program, more for safety at the time, and we developed the “Pod” system, where players were grouped together for the entire season, in small groups with extremely low player to trainer ratios, on their own fields.   Where we used to have 2-3 trainers at the Sousa field on Saturdays for a 2-3 hour window, for 50-60 players in each hour, we now have 10+ trainers on both Saturdays and Sundays for a total of 8 hours over those two days, with ratios no more than 12 to 1 (and lower for younger age groups).  Under the guidance of Gerneil “Jigsy” Lorne, the club’s Director of Coaching since 2019, the program has also evolved with a more structured goals-based curriculum.  Players now receive more personalized training, in smaller groups, often with the same trainers throughout the season.  And you’ve likely seen Jigs out at Sousa on weekends working with players and guiding the training staff - we cannot express how fortunate we are to have him in that environment, where he can connect with so many young players over the course of a few hours.  Learn more about Jigsy at our Soccer Programs page.

The unequivocal improvements to the program have resulted in significant club-wide growth, and the intramural program consistently has above 500 players each season (with most age groups filling up to capacity, forcing us to close registration before the season even starts).  We are proud of that growth and consistency, particularly with a club surrounded by water on three sides!  Yet, with those much larger numbers, we've maintained quality training and amazing organization, thanks in particular to the longtime intramural coordinator, Jaime Platt, and her co-coordinator in recent seasons, Brian Litvack.  The increase in the number of players and training structure has shown real results in the travel program, with the club rolling out 3-4 boys U9 teams and 3 girls U9 teams each of the past several years.  Whereas the club had fewer than 20 total teams club-wide several years ago, we now have 22 boys and girls teams in just the U9-U12 age groups.  That means we are trending to 35+ teams in the coming years, and are better able to provide players options with appropriate league competition, at whatever level they are currently playing, and we are less likely to have to fold teams (and age groups) and leave players with no team to play on in the PWSC.  Overall, a great result for a nonprofit, volunteer-run, community-based club, and we are proud of this progress - many other community-based soccer clubs are trending in the opposite direction.  On top of that, our younger teams are considerably more competitive in their respective travel soccer leagues compared to several years ago, and that holds true whether they are in a top division or a lower division in their respective leagues.  For us, that’s ideal, since we want to cater to ALL players in the community, not just a select group of players.

In the end, the success of the club allows us to provide a platform for all players in the community to participate in soccer, and the financial stability that has resulted enables us to provide need-based scholarships to over 100 players per year in the community, who may otherwise not be able to participate in soccer or organized sports.  Something we (as a community) can all be proud of!

Gerneil "Jigsy" Lorne

Gerneil "Jigsy" Lorne

Director of Coaching

Phone: (917) 863-7768




PWSC Contact Info:

PWSC Contact Info:

information@portsoccerclub.com