Equity and Opportunity at Heart of NISA Alliance With United Women's Soccer

Jan 28, 2021

New Pro League Planned in Major Step to Women’s Soccer Parity


CHICAGO (January 28, 2021) – The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) today proudly announced an alliance with pro-am leader United Women’s Soccer (UWS) to launch a professional league in 2022, widening the bridge for advancement from the amateur level.

That progression is being managed by Chicago-based management consulting firm Club 9 Sports, Inc.

The new relationship reflects both organizations’ vision to create greater opportunity, improved operations and merit-based advancement for women’s clubs, players and leadership.

“This alliance will provide women’s clubs, athletes, coaches, and staff a growth path to the highest levels of the game,” says NISA Commissioner John Prutch. “We are thrilled with how NISA is growing and finding allies like UWS in creating an open system based on merit. The need is critical, and the opportunity is evident to advance the men’s and women’s game together.”

The alliance between NISA and UWS is committed to advancing the women’s game and giving women equal opportunities in this game we all love. With the amount of talent and interest across women’s soccer in the United States, it makes sense to expand the opportunities to play professionally.

“In a time where there are several professional and amateur leagues for men across North America, there still is a huge gap between the college and professional ranks on the women’s side.” UWS Chief Operation Officer Roberto Aguas. “While UWS fills that gap by providing the highest pathway to pro for the amateur player, its efforts to foster talent development will be augmented through this alliance and the development of a new women’s pro league.”

In just five years, over 100 UWS alumnae have inked professional contracts that include: 2019 UWS Championship MVP Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais), 2019 UWS Player of the Year Kate Howarth (Orlando Pride), 2018 All-UWS honoree Stephanie Labbé (FC Rosengård), 2017 UWS Player of the Year Deyna Castellanos (Atlético Madrid), 2017 All-UWS honoree Bethany Balcer (Reign FC), 2016 UWS Player of the Year Krystyna Freda (Apollon Ladies FC, Cyprus), five-time Bulgarian National Player of the Year Evi Popadinova (Napoli), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Nicole Baxter (Sky Blue FC), Emily Dolan (Real Betis) and many more.

UWS focuses on professionally run operations, requiring teams to adhere to minimum standards that are overlooked by other pro-am leagues. Female players deserve the same facilities and amenities as their male counterparts, and fans deserve the best game day experience possible.

"This is a game changer for women’s professional soccer, and I’m thrilled for young players and aspiring pros,” said UWS Executive Director Stephanie Cleaves. “Two professional women’s soccer leagues have never co-existed before in the United States. More professional opportunities will lead to the advancement of the women’s game for organizations, players, their communities and supporters.”

NISA has always been more than just a league, but an association of leagues linked together with a common cause. With its recent expansion, there also is an overlap of clubs having a team in both NISA and UWS, including NISA professional sides Detroit City FC and Michigan Stars FC.

The alliance will make more announcements in the coming weeks.


About United Women’s Soccer

United Women’s Soccer is a national pro-am league comprised of professionally operated clubs within the United States and Canada. UWS provides high level competition for college players, aspiring and former professionals, and international stars. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a national championship. The league fills the gap between the college and professional ranks, and it has produced more than 17 National Women’s Soccer League draftees and 100 professional contracts since its inception in 2016.

Stay connected on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & LinkedIn. Media can contact the UWS Communications office by e-mail at info@uwssoccer.com. Visit the league’s official website at UWSSoccer.com. Interested team applicants can contact Executive Director Stephanie Cleaves at steph@uwssoccer.com.



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