Surf Nation is comprised of like-minded coaches and administrators dedicated to our Surf mission to provide the best experiences and opportunities for their athletes. Since 2020, Match Fit Academy & New Jersey Surf have been a proud partner of Surf Nation, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership. We have watched their amazing club grow and seen them take full advantage of being under the Surf brand.

We sat down with Match Fit Academy’s Executive Director, Jordan Raper & New Jersey Surf’s Director, Terry Gradwell to learn more about how Surf has helped their club, players, coaches, and administrators and their upcoming season goals:

1. Can you give us a clear idea of the relationship between NJ Surf and MFA that clarifies the player development pathway in New Jersey?

The partnership between Match Fit Academy (MFA) and NJ Surf establishes a comprehensive player development pathway in various regions of New Jersey. This collaboration ensures players progress seamlessly from grassroots programs to elite national competitions under one cohesive organization. Unlike some areas in the Northeast, where players might need to switch clubs to find appropriate levels of competition, the MFA and NJ Surf partnership provides a consistent and unified development path. Players can begin their journey in local recreational programs and advance through increasingly competitive levels, reaching the highest tiers of youth soccer, such as the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).

2. What are the benefits of both organizations in their relationship with Surf Nation?

For Match Fit Academy:

The relationship with Surf Nation brings several key benefits to Match Fit Academy. It offers a robust support structure, providing guidance and resources from the larger Surf Nation network. This includes leadership from experienced professionals at the organization’s top and access to a wealth of knowledge within the extensive community of coaches and staff. This support enhances the overall development environment for players and coaches alike.

For NJ Surf:

The benefit to NJ Surf is the integration into a nationally recognized soccer organization, which brings elevated credibility and visibility. This association provides access to best practices in coaching and player development and opportunities to participate in high-profile tournaments and showcases. Additionally, NJ Surf can leverage the expertise and resources of Surf Nation to enhance their local programs and provide their players with more comprehensive development opportunities.

3. Both organizations have one of the best player development pathways in the country. What are some joint collaboration efforts between NJ Surf and MFA going into the 24/25 Season to ensure this relates to on-field success?

To ensure on-field success for the 24/25 season, NJ Surf and Match Fit Academy are undertaking several collaborative efforts. These include:

Player Identification and Development: Continuously working together to identify and nurture talent within their network. This involves regular talent scouting, assessments, and personalized development plans.

Structured Pathways: Establishing clear structures for player progression, with NJ Surf handling zone 1 teams (U8-U11) and Match Fit Academy overseeing U12-U19 teams. This division optimizes resource allocation, streamlines player pools, and creates a transparent development pathway.

Ongoing Dialogue: Maintaining an ongoing dialogue among directors from all locations to ensure consistency in training methodologies and player development strategies. This communication fosters a unified approach to nurturing talent and preparing players for the next level of competition.

4. Please share the goals you have both set out moving into the 24/25 season:

Match Fit Academy:

The primary goal for Match Fit Academy in the 24/25 season is to continue building upon the strong foundation and brand established over the past 24 years. The focus will be on enhancing all aspects of the club, particularly improving on-field performance. The club aims to leverage the expertise of its leadership and staff to achieve new heights in player development and competitive success.

NJ Surf:

For NJ Surf, the goal is to strengthen the collaboration with Match Fit Academy and Surf Nation, ensuring that players have access to the best possible development opportunities. This includes refining coaching methodologies, expanding player identification efforts, and increasing participation in high-level competitions. NJ Surf aims to solidify its position as a premier destination for youth soccer talent in New Jersey.

5. Where applicable, as we move into Postseason play, what have been some of your Club’s highlights in the 23/24 season, and what are your expectations for the playoff campaign?

Match Fit Academy:

Significant achievements have marked the 23/24 season for the club:

  • Player Commitments: All ECNL and RL Girls’ Class of ’24 players have committed to play at the collegiate level, showcasing the effectiveness of the club’s development programs.
  • Champions League Qualifications: The club’s teams in the 2009 and 2007 age groups have qualified for the Champions League, demonstrating their competitive prowess.
  • Showcase Playoffs: The 2008 age group has qualified for the Showcase playoffs, highlighting their strong performance throughout the season.
  • Notable Team Records: The 2010 team achieved a record of 12-5-1, and the 2011 team went 9-4-5, both narrowly missing out on playoff spots. Additionally, the 2012 pre-ECNL team recorded an impressive 11-3-3 season.

As the club moves into postseason play, the expectation is to build on these successes and strive for deep playoff runs, aiming to secure championships and further elevate the club’s reputation on the national stage.

New Jersey Surf :

Where our players now qualify for pre-ECNL play (2013) 11 players have been promoted from Surf to MFA. Following 6 players (2012) last season. Many other players have also been promoted at various age groups. This has proved beneficial in increasing our player pool, as families see this as a proven pathway.

Learn more about Match Fit Academy at