After putting out a couple of posts this week regarding the links between youth and professional leagues and the ensuing feedback challenging us to put our money where our mouths were, we decided we would go one step further, seek the opinions of clubs around the country and provide data that backs up our subtle hunch on what the issues, needs and desires are for our grassroots clubs around the U.S. – while this is a huge undertaking, it’s a step forward and a way of discussing the state of soccer in this country but this time using quantifiable data to help provide educated outcomes.

For those up in arms at the moment. This is not us starting a league by any means. Starting a league is a huge undertaking and regardless of any outcomes generated from this conversation through Futbol Focus, its a step forward, accruing more data from the grassroots and a way of discussing the state of soccer in this country.

Anyways, feel free to contribute and we look forward to engaging with you in the very near future!



It is quietly acknowledged in most circles that the current U.S. soccer market is fractured across many tiers of the national pyramid (a graphical representation of the pathways from youth soccer through to MLS and the US Soccer Administration). This has been the direct result of not only the uniqueness of the sport in this country compared to the rest of the world but also due to a number of competing interests that has now resulted in an inadequate focus on youth development.

An opportunity exists in the professional soccer market to help bridge those missing links between junior soccer and the senior ranks and drive a new cultural shift the sport has long been waiting for.

This opportunity is focused predominantly on youth pathways and creating a stronger and more sustainable foundation for the sport through new found levels of professionalism in our minor leagues, accountability, transparency and continuous grassroots development. The overarching goal is that clubs are then rewarded for this investment in development to ensure they continue to strive for excellence.


It is proposed that a new national competition be created, populated by teams that meet a set level of criteria rather than entering the competition via the purchase of a league franchise.

The criteria would be based on 5 main criteria;
• Governance
• Club Development
• Financial Sustainability
• Coaching Excellence
• Future Planning

The main point of differentiation from other leagues nationwide however is the amount of teams each club would need to be (and remain) eligible to enter.

Seniors: First Team | First Team Reserves

Youth: U21 | U18 | U16 | U14 | U12

Currently many clubs do not feel part of a developmental pathway and many minor league teams (and sometimes the highest level of competitive soccer in the region) have just one team. This new structure would enable teams to enter into new sustainable partnerships and provide a steady stream of talent into the senior ranks for years to come.

We mention regions specifically as clubs are resourced (or have access to resources) to varying degrees across the country. Having this new league will enable clubs to deliver youth and club development programs to a consistently high quality level, build a genuine support base over time and create a sense of culture and belonging to the local communities they effectively represent each week on the field.

It will also address one of the most prevalent issues in the game today by beginning to provide a much clearer picture for players in terms of their own career rather than being confused as to what the best way for their career path to take is. It also gives an alternative to players than are priced out of going to college or come from disadvantaged backgrounds.



Focus would be given to teams in cities that are not currently serviced by either an MLS or NASL franchise to aid with the ongoing development of the sport.

League Administrators will support its clubs in their local communities through both national and targeted marketing, media and pr support and through the accruement of sponsors. It will also provide all the tools necessary for a club to create strong outreach efforts including access to its own websites and social network.


To create professional and sustainable clubs for the future the highest importance will be placed on governance. This will include new levels of transparency in club finance (including fees and annual reporting), the requirements of policy, safety & risk management and club development plans to name but a few.

This level of professionalism will be reciprocated by League administrators who would ultimately support these requirements through training and continued education.


Clubs will be responsible for their own finances but transparency, auditing and ongoing viability will be keys in maintaining their eligibility. It is important that clubs remain financially sound to ensure that youth development is not jeopardized for the future.

Board members for each club will also need to take executive training to ensure that the club is never brought into disrepute.


Clubs will have an ongoing commitment to developing a stronger grassroots in their communities and this will be highlighted through club ratings which will focus on hitting thresholds for coaching accreditation and development, field improvements, member recruitment and retention to name but a few.

A new league has the luxury of a clean slate and no ongoing sporting politics. For this reason it has the opportunity to embrace new technologies, seek to use its potential to get more exposure for its clubs through national sponsorship deals and create and exploit marketing opportunities to help attract new fans, players and revenue streams.


A considerable amount of market research, data analysis and collaboration with interested stakeholders would have to occur over the coming year to ensure the successful introduction of such a concept in 2014/15.

In mid-February it is proposed that the terms of reference be drafted for a review into the viability for a new nation-wide minor league and a timeframe for research, review and reporting prior to more formal structures being established.


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Pathways To Professionalism – A New Standard For Our Pro Clubs

ImageThis is what happens when I think out loud. The last time I did this it was again at the turn of a new year and it was also soccer related. That time we founded a new soccer club that went from an indoor soccer team predominantly full of old high school friends to a club that had under 5’s through to senior men’s and women’s team and two seasons of over 400% growth. This is what happens when you are passionate about what you do and are committed to seeing it become a reality.

I was recently back in Australia and had the pleasure of reconnecting with some of my soccer contacts who filled me in with all the developments in the game, which over the course of 18 months had been significant.

Australia shares many similarities with the sport here in the U.S. – it is a growing sport that is up against a range of more established (and culturally unique) ‘football’ codes and has the largest junior sporting base/participation in the country. It has also gone through some major changes over the past decade or so to help improve the standard of play and administration of the sport.

Embracing the term football, creating new men & women’s national leagues and joining the Asian Confederation are just a few of the positive changes happening ‘down under’.

It has been the changes at the grassroots and minor leagues though that provided the most food for thought, and ones that have ultimately been encouraged by the AFA to make sure they deliver on the need to create a second tier for the domestic league by 2022.

That will mean the introduction of promotion and relegation.

The AFC planned to revamp 22 leagues in Asia, 10 of them by 2009–2012. This was due to the poor performance of Asian teams in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The reforms include increasing transparency, increasing competitiveness, improving training facilities, and forcing the leagues to have a system of relegation and promotion. [1]

The 10 leagues marked for reform are Australia, Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, India, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The proposal represented a radical change in Australia, where professional leagues in all sports are organized on a model of franchised teams and closed league membership. [2]

While I wholeheartedly support this model in the U.S. it is the pathways and professionalism being established in these new minor leagues that have us excited for the future of U.S. soccer.

The first conference to be established in the APL is from my home state of Queensland. The governing body has always been a forward looking entity and this was evident in my dealings with them as President of my club Springfield United. My first meetings with the board were when they fought hard to establish a new association in the booming Western Corridor. This reason behind such a move was to provide local pathways for juniors rather than travelling up to an hour away to play a small sided game. It was cost efficient for families and made sense from an administrative point of view.

Anyways, back to how the minor league revolution began. Football Federation Australia (FFA) took a national review into all competitions from under 12 through to the state leagues (top leagues under the national A-league) and found a number of issues, most centering around inadequate youth development and administrative concerns, but all of which are attributable to the current U.S. environment.

After this extensive review the following outcomes came to fruition;

  • A nationwide criterion/accreditation for clubs
  • A player points cap to help promote young over old, domestic over international and locally developed over purchased players.
  • Clubs to not have just one team but reserves and youth teams from under 12 to under 20 and then onto the first team
  • A football ‘plan’ with improvements in coaching accreditation, finance, governance, facilities etc.

It also saw the establishment of the Australian Premier League (APL) which would effectively become the second tier of the sport nationwide (but broken up into state conferences)

FQ chief operating officer Ben Mannion said the APL, which is first and foremost designed as a pathway for elite players and coaches, was the ‘best thing that’s come out of the national federation for a long time’.

“The game is moving forward. This shouldn’t be seen as anything but a massive step forward for football,” Mannion said.

“The new TV rights deal will help the A-League clubs, no doubt about that, and depending on how long that is (FFA will) look at the next step of the World Cup and the Asian Cup here in 2015 as two tools to actually drive participation and drive kids to those clubs.

“Over time, our game will change. Traditionally we’ve been a funding-up model.

“Hopefully one day in the not too distant future, the funding will start coming up from the top from the likes of TV rights deals and different commercial arrangements that the FFA will work on.” [3]

And this is where we start to think out loud once again.

What if a league similar to the APL was established as a minor league here? Sitting on the fourth tier of the highly fractured U.S. soccer pyramid and providing a more structured approach to minor league soccer and youth pathways than say the NPSL.

For arguments sake let’s call this proposal the U-League.

The U-League would not be a direct competitor to the NPSL as the criteria for entry, ongoing reporting and transparency would be vastly different. Not to mention the national introduction of promotion and relegation.

The league would operate in parallel to the European season but have a winter break as per the Bundesliga.

The establishment of the U-League would provide the perfect test for everything that has long been flagged as being the key to unlocking the sport in this county. It would be of no threat to the ‘establishment’, nor to the detriment or value of current franchises across the nation.

We are not naïve when it comes to promotion and relegation especially from a financial stand point. That why developing it in the minor leagues where going up and down a division will not spell the end of club revenue but a reward for the hard work and progress of new talent.

Do you think this could work? What issue would you highlight as a stumbling block?

This is just the first post on what we hope will be a constructive dialogue about how to improve the developmental pathways from youth to pro.

I encourage people to contact us to discuss these ideas in more detail. I believe this can work and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Email me at with your number and I’ll call you as soon as possible to see how this can become reality.

This is me thinking out loud again, but it’s a real conversation I think it’s time we had.

Ryan Ginard is a General Partner of Futbol Focus

Follow him @ryanginard

Picture Credit: Mike Firpo,




Soccer Support – A Year In Review

Soccer is a unique product from a business context that is made more complex in the United States due to cultural and structural differences from the rest of the game worldwide.

Technology, and in particular social media, is one of those keys to unlocking the future of the sport. But it’s not quite as simple as setting up a Facebook or twitter account, especially those that think they understand it when they simply do not.

Retweets or commenting on what EVERYONE is currently watching on TV does not constitute being a social media guru for soccer – far from it. It’s about two way engagement and developing an emotional attachment with users that fosters new conversations and original content.

I wanted to attempt to bridge this gap online between the highest tiers of soccer and the grassroots fans by creating 21st century clubs that embraced online platforms and technology as a way to help propel soccer to new audiences.

This all started at the turn of the year when I established the soccer consultancy Soccer Support which has continued to push this message locally in Southern California but with a national narrative focused around the concept of growing the game of soccer in the U.S.

And what a year!

Building a reputation online is never easy, but couple this together with no capital and you are out there purely on the blind faith that someone, anyone, is listening. And listen they have. Here are some of the highlights;

#GrowTheGame San Diego: My first community based event that was focused on promoting awareness of the sport locally and that helped develop a new level of communication between clubs, fans and associations across the county. With four major events across San Diego and over 500 people in attendance this showed that people were indeed open to a new paradigm for the sport in the U.S.

Soccer Tech 2012: Soccer Tech 2012 was an audacious attempt to help drive our technology message to a new level of soccer fans and the ones that we have courted for a long time. Held in downtown LA and featuring as an official partner event of the world renowned Social Media Week, Soccer Tech saw a number of workshops and presentations that discussed the future opportunities and advancement for the sport in the U.S.

Streamed live via Social Media Week the event was a huge success and even reported on in the final wrap up of events by organizers!

Soccer Star San Diego: An 8 episode online webseries that showcased 11 of San Diego’s top undiscovered talent has wrapped up filming and has seen the pilot released through the shows website – the final 7 episodes should be released prior to the end of the year. This reality tv show was filmed and produced with a small budget crowdsourced from friends, family and fans worldwide and shows just what can be achieved by the grassroots of the game if you are willing to work hard to produce original content.

Soccer Speak USA: My blog that I really should pay attention to again, but has seen over 60 posts and over 6500 views. With posts ranging from how to lobby politicians for soccer infrastructure, to positive changes to the game including a reformed Gold Cup and the merits of promotion and relegation there is  plenty of food for thought and contentious issues for the most ardent US fan to rant and rave about.

Blog Tip🙂 If you have something to say, say it – the sport is crying out for original insights into how to improve the game. Don’t look for perfection, just post it and then learn from it – refine your argument, take the constructive criticism on face value and don’t get caught up on how many people read it or how many people tweet about it.

As you can see, chasing your passions can reap huge dividends for the game in the U.S. and we encourage likeminded fans to get in touch with us to help drive even bigger outcomes for 2013.

Keep checking back for new announcements coming soon!

@warrenbarton2 @iwantcurlyhair2 & @kimtatesports discuss the future of soccer in the U.S. at #soccertech2012

Soccer Tech 2012 – Overview & Agenda

Soccer Tech 2012 – Session Overview

The future of US Soccer. Discuss.

The inaugural Soccer Tech Conference features as a partner event of the internationally acclaimed Social Media Week (

The event kicks off on Thursday 27 September from 10am and will see 7 workshops, presentations, forums and roundtable events take place at the LA Creative Space, Downtown LA.

About Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. Our mission is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information.

Being part of SMW is an opportunity to join thousands of other leading industry practitioners to and be part of the SMW experience hosted by 15 worldwide markets. With over 600 organizations hosting more than 1,000 incredible event sessions at the last SMW, this is your chance to join the world’s most collaborative event that explores the cultural and economic impact of social media.

This year’s global theme is “Empowering Change through Collaboration.”

Why are you attending Soccer Tech?

Fans participation in this #SMWLA Conference means that you have an active interest in how online technologies and social media change the way soccer clubs communicate, operate and become more sustainable. You have asked yourself what the sport’s most innovative clubs and associations doing to evolve their reach, exposure and bottom line? #SMWSoccerTech2012 hopes to answer your questions and more by giving you exclusive access to hands-on workshops and panel discussions that will enhance your knowledge of what is available to your club and inspire a new phase of growth at the grassroots of the game.

Social media

Fans are encouraged to use our official SMW Hashtag when tweeting  – #SMWSoccerTech2012


10am-11amEngagement: Grassroots lessons from pro tier soccer – How are the pro teams engaging with local fans and their communities to help drive new levels of fan interaction? How are online advances shaping the communication between fans, players and clubs and can this be replicated down the soccer pyramid effectively?

Speakers: Lisa Bregman – LA Galaxy, Ben Philyaw – Lightmaker & Clent Alexander – SDSP Soccer Marketing

Presentation 1: The Spirit of Football (U.S. Leg) – Every FIFA World Cup year since 2002, a small team of European football lovers, have carried, kicked, flown and headed a ball, The Ball ,from the birthplace of the sport, Battersea Park in London (where a game is played half Original Rules and gear, half Modern Rules and gear), to the site of the World Cup.  Mike Bonifer discusses ‘The Ball’s’ next journey to the Brazil World Cup in 2014.

11am-12pm Soccer for Social Change – Social media has broken down the ability for U.S. based charities to make a difference both domestically and internationally. In this session attendees will learn how to use soccer as a catalyst for many positive changes in people’s lives, whether it be disadvantaged youth, their families and/or the community at large.

Speakers: Lisa O’Kane – JoLi Academy & Chandrima Chatterjee – Yuwa, Street Soccer USA

12pm – 1pm ***LUNCH BREAK***

1pm – 2pm Using Technology To Grow The Game – Technology needs to be embraced at the grassroots of soccer if it is to grow in the U.S. and reach the potential of the traditional world powers of the sport.This session will discuss niche social platforms, utilizing responsive design and universal marketing.

Speakers: Jeremy Melul – Jogabo & Kristi Colvin – Mass Passion, Founder of WUFC

2pm – 2:40pm The State of Play: Social Media and the State of American Soccer JournalismHow to tap into social media to drive original soccer content and use these new links to build/establish new conversations about the sport.  Also discussing the origins of XI Quarterly – a print quarterly – that is, in many ways, a throwback in an era in which so much journalism is going digital.

Speaker: David Keyes – XI Quarterly

Presentation 2: Golazo Natural Beverages – Join our sponsors as they discuss how they ‘Fuel Fútbol’ with beverages that use the best All Natural ingredients, with Latin-inspired flavors and functionality designed for the pitch.

2:40pm – 3:15pm The Impact of Social Media & Technology on the In-Venue Supporter Experience – A discussion surrounding the impact that social media and technology has had on the in-venue stadium experience for soccer supporters and club owners. This open conversation will look to discuss the future of stadium technology integration in terms of possible new revenue opportunities, greater fan connectivity and other effects on the stadium sector of the soccer business industry.

Speaker: Joshua A. Boren – Woods Bagot

3:15 – 4:30pm Building and Leveraging your Online PresenceA workshop for those looking to get an insight into the most effective ways to expand your influence online through social media. There will be a discussion on connecting with influencers and generating support, contacts and networking for your organization.

Speakers: Kim Tate – Kim Tate Sports & Curly – Soccer Technologist

4:30pm – 5:30pm The future of Soccer in the U.S. – Join our celebrity panel in this unique Q&A with questions from attendees and online. Ask questions via Twitter at #SMWSoccerTech2012

Speakers: Warren Barton – Fox Soccer & Special Guests.

5:30pm Close.


2012 Soccer Tech Conference – A New Paradigm For Grassroots Support

Those who frequently interact with our Twitter account @SoccerSupport would have noticed recent discussions about an upcoming Soccer Tech Conference in Los Angeles next month. We are happy to report this is indeed close to becoming a reality and is in the final phases of organization.

Our 1st announcements will be made soon including our key note speakers and conference format.

But let us divulge a little of why a social media/technology specific conference is a positive step forward for the continued growth of soccer in the U.S.

Target Audience: Soccer Administrators, Community Outreach Directors, Event Managers, Sports Marketing Students, Soccer Bloggers and interested fans.

Why Attend? How can online technologies and social media change the way soccer clubs communicate, operate and become more sustainable? What are the sport’s most innovative clubs and associations doing to evolve their reach, exposure and bottom line? Join Soccer Support’s hands-on workshops and panel discussions that will enhance your knowledge of what is available to your club and inspire a new phase of growth at the grassroots of the game.

Date: Thursday September 27, Los Angeles.

We are still putting together some key parts of the event and are always looking for extra support.

Do you want to host a workshop? The conference will feature a series of workshops, forums and roundtable events for soccer innovators to network and share best practice. Do you have a new product coming out that will revolutionize the grassroots of soccer? Are you an expert in your field and would like to host a session? Then contact us today to discuss these opportunities and more at the inaugural Soccer Tech Conference.

Do you want to support the event? The event is being organized by a small volunteer team. All donations of time and tangible/intangible goods and services that can add to the outcomes of this event is greatly appreciated. You can sponsor a specific workshop, provide promotional products to attendees etc – we are always open to suggestions!

Volunteers Wanted! Do you live in LA & have a passion for soccer? Then join our support team for the inaugural Soccer Tech Conference. Volunteers are needed for a range of tasks on the day to ensure the smooth running of the event.

For any of the above calls for support please email for more info.


Soccer Speak USA Celebrates A Mini Milestone & Recaps On Its 5 Most Read Articles

Recently Soccer Speak USA, a humble blog of ideas that was created to help act as discussion tool – and more optimistically, a catalyst for change at the grassroots of U.S. soccer – surpassed 5000 hits.

Not a number that screams ‘listen to my me because my ideas are great’ but rather an indicator that there are indeed people out there that believe soccer can reach its potential in this country through innovative approaches to help foster a cultural shift in the big four ‘Americanized’ sports of NFL, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey.

Simply, I just wanted to say thank you and hope you keep on reading and contributing to the debate.

To celebrate our mini-milestone we have linked our top 5 most read blog posts and tomorrow will post our favorite 5 – so enjoy some nostalgia or catch up on those posts you may have missed…next stop, 10,000!

#1: Time To End The WPS Blame Game & Embrace A Sustainable Future For Women’s Pro Soccer

A post inspired from a rather heated Twitter Chat saw us take a look at options for women’s pro soccer and called for a blueprint for the women’s game rather than arguing why we don’t currently have one.

#2: Franchise vs Clubs – The Future of Pro Soccer in the U.S.

We tackle one of the most polarizing arguments in U.S. soccer – promotion & relegation as a model for growth. However our angle assumes that the franchise model will continue and that the focus on expansion should be for regions with established entities rather than a pay to play attitude.

#3: #GrowTheGame Event Previews #1 Soccer Star – San Diego

#GrowTheGame San Diego was a huge success with over 500 participants city wide and this preview looked at the upcoming trials for the soon to be released web series Soccer Star – San Diego. Of all the event to be held on that April weekend it was the tryouts that created the most buzz. Two months later a winner was selected to join the San Diego Flash Soccer Club and a 8 episode TV pilot will launch on September 5.

Check out the promo videos now on

#4: Do You Have What It Takes To Be San Diego’s Next Soccer Star?

When we launched our plans for a new TV pilot many thought it couldn’t be done on the back of a volunteer team and no funding. We are now two weeks away from defying all those critics and look forward to putting out a series that will showcase the biggest youth soccer market in the country. This post was where it all started…

#5: NPSL Looks To Social Media To Broadcast Its National Championships To A Wider Audience

It was surprising to see this article slip into the top 5 given it was only posted a couple of weeks ago, but I feel it serves as a message to administrators that social media and technological advances can play an important part in the future growth of the sport in the U.S.

The NPSL National Championships utilized Ustream to great effect and took the league (which I feel is full of promise) to a wider audience. Couple this with a strong focus on social media and the use of Twitter programs to bring fans up-to-the-minute updates on the games played, the host city took some risks and reaped the rewards.

Video Killed The Radio Star But Helped #GrowTheGame Of Soccer In The USA

One of the most overlooked ways to #GrowTheGame is the sports capacity to embrace new technology at the grassroots. Most of us have a feel for the various mediums available to us, but most don’t understand the full capabilities of social media and how it contributes to new fans and prospective revenue streams.

I would put myself in the same basket and am constantly educating myself and searching for new techniques on how better to promote soccer as I’m sure the same attitude is held by those currently reading this post.

In the coming week(s) we will be announcing an ambitious new project that will bring together many industry leaders, soccer innovators all the way through to those fans looking to simply make a difference at their local club.

Keep an eye out for news regarding the 2012 Soccer Tech Conference in Los Angeles this September, our list of key note speakers and exciting workshops, forums and networking events that will form part of a 21st century approach to the growth of soccer in the U.S.

Now we have leaked that exciting piece of information we wanted to touch on one of the workshops scheduled for the event and in our eyes, one of the most under-utilized mediums available to the sport.

If you hadn’t of guessed we are talking about Video.

Video has come a long way in the past 10 years and is now more accessible, affordable, mobile, and of better quality than its VHS predecessors (I still remember my family with a shoebox sized camcorder taping my cup final back in the mid-nineties). With more ways to showcase your amateur productions (think YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Vimeo etc), why are we still slow on the uptake of using these tools as a cost efficient way of gaining more exposure for the game?

As you know we don’t preach to know it all at Soccer Support but we do like to provide a number of ideas and alternatives to challenge the sport to realize its potential in the U.S. – so check out our top ten ways to use video to help #GrowTheGame!

Website Optimization: Lots of club websites are built through WordPress. It is easy to embed you videos from YouTube onto your website to make it look more professional and drive more hits to your marketing platforms.

Talent: Record videos of your talented players and help cut a highlights package for them to send to colleges, teams etc.

Promotions: Create promo videos to help promote your club, strengthen your crowd funding messages etc – visual appeal trumps that of print media and helps people absorb the message quicker. In another context you can also invite fans, parents etc to upload videos on Facebook. Run competitions that involve original content to help generate new exposure for the club.

Community: Video your club’s community outreach activities to appeal to new networks. Record your team participating in a 5k charity fun run or hosting a community skills clinic. Teams that are entrenched in their community stand a better chance of attracting new sponsors and members than a pay-as-you-play, no-frills organization.

Exposure: If a parent or club volunteer has a video camera, show your games live via Ustream. Minor leagues such as the NASL & NPSL are embracing these technologies to showcase their games to a broader audience. You can also create highlights packages which can be released weekly to great effect.

Creating A Family: Record player profiles and provide candid interviews of staff regularly to give some personality to your club and help fans relate to your players. Fans that have an emotional attachment to the club are much more likely to interact and help grow the team in the future.

Education: Create a form that can be distributed to fans, parents and coaches that helps them understand what technologies are out there (e.g free apps, social media etc) and how to use it to promote your club. Make sure you have a release form template at all games/events.

Fans: Use you camera phone to interview fans at local games – ask them a topical question and then upload it to your clubs Facebook page.

Communications: Link with other clubs to discuss ways in which you can support each other, share best practice etc by using Google Hangouts and Skype. Most laptops now come with a built in Webcam.

Sponsorship: You can create simple TV adverts using a camcorder and simple editing software to produce footage that showcases your club and sponsors together which will generate more exposure for the club and drive new customers to your sponsors businesses.

The above ten examples only touch on a small number of video options for your club and for that reason we encourage you to take it to your next club executive meeting and discuss possible ways of utilizing this medium to help grow your clubs capabilities.

We also feel this could be an option for leagues and associations to help grow its member organizations and help deliver on opportunities such as those outlined above by seeking strategic partnerships with companies such as Sony or JVC and help offer discounted equipment to clubs. Another option might be to expand the criteria for small equipment grants to enable clubs to apply for video equipment, editing software and courses.

Either way there is plenty of food for thought and we hope much of these ideas and more will be raised at the upcoming Soccer Tech Conference where a specific video workshop will appear on the agenda. Keep checking @SoccerSupport and this blog for upcoming announcements and time to embrace technology!

While I have your attention we thought we would also showcase our own unique use of video technology and show that anything is possible if you have commitment and desire to #GrowTheGame.

With no budget and a team of volunteers we have created an 8 webisode tv reality show called Soccer Star – San Diego.

Soccer Star – San Diego was our vision of creating a cost neutral TV pilot which showcases local soccer talent, local clubs, businesses and the City of San Diego. A simple idea in essence that will yield significant benefits for what is currently the number one youth market in the U.S. and a city not currently served by an MLS franchise.

The premise of Soccer Star – San Diego is that young players between the ages of 18 and 23 are offered the chance to start their professional soccer career with a training agreement with the San Diego Flash Soccer Club. The Flash are coached by renowned English Premiership soccer player and Fox Soccer Analyst Warren Barton.

Soccer Star – San Diego is due to be released via and YouTube on Wednesday September 5, but you can check out our two current promo’s below! Enjoy🙂

Promo 1 – Game On!

Promo 2 – The Trials…

Why San Diego Is The Chris Wondolowski Of U.S. Soccer Cities

Watching the MLS All-Star game in the heart of the Gaslamp District – which for those playing the game at home is downtown San Diego – the question was asked why San Diego isn’t considered for any of the ‘showcase’ games of U.S. Soccer?

Surely a city that is the country’s eighth largest, has the country’s biggest youth soccer market and sits on the border of the soccer crazy nation of Mexico was worth a shot of hosting a game or two?

Soccer in this country is continuing to grow at a strong pace and a number of commentators have identified that non represented Major League Soccer markets such as San Diego are integral to the expansion of our leagues and the exposure of the sport in general. Take NASL Commissioner David Downs recent comments for example;

…In the U.S., nine of the top 25 markets don’t have any [pro] soccer at all. These are markets that could or would support soccer. M.L.S. is at the short-term limits of its capacity. There’s talk. Long term, it seems logical there’s opportunity to expand to some really attractive markets. San Diego, Sacramento, Phoenix, Cincinnati. Many places with populations in excess of two million. Our league conceivably could have 10 teams by 2013 or 12 by 2014, and maybe 20 long term…


Mr Downs sure wasn’t the first and definitely won’t be the last to acknowledge the potential of San Diego as a lucrative market for soccer $$$.

Now before I continue I don’t want you to be concerned. While it has all the pre-argument hallmarks of another “San Diego should have an MLS team blah, blah, blah” we are not going down the road of another blog post that sings the same old song to a tune played by the world’s smallest violin.

What we are trying to expose here is the lack of confidence in the city to showcase major soccer events (excluding junior competitions – shout out to the $25 million per year generating Surf Cup).

For story telling purposes let’s get some of the important facts out there;

  • San Diego is the number 4 TV market for MLS on ESPN in the country (behind only Portland, NY and Norfolk, VA)
  • According to Nielsen, San Diego was the top market for watching the USMNT games and delivered an astonishing 15.4 rating for the Ghana round of 16 game.
  • San Diego was selected as one of the host cities for the 2022 U.S. World Cup bid.
  • 72,000 people are registered to play soccer in San Diego.
  • Has one of the largest adult leagues (the San Diego County Soccer League has 5 full divisions with promotion and relegation)

So that’s some of the pros. But playing devil’s advocate on our own argument we should acknowledge two skeletons in our closet, you know, those two chances we got to prove we deserve world class soccer in San Diego.

1999 All-Star Game. San Diego was indeed the last non MLS city to host the All-Star game. All was going well, pre-sales were strong and organizers were expecting a large walk up crowd. The game was going to be shown on ABC but then a terrible accident involving one of the Kennedy clan happened, the game was bumped off the major network and the rest is history. 23,000 people at the 80,000 seat Qualcomm Stadium is not the best of advertisements for the local soccer market.

Real Madrid vs Chivas. 2011 saw the World Football Challenge come to San Diego. A real coup for the city but the event was poorly advertised, tickets were priced poorly and it all resulted in another black mark against the San Diego faithful.

The biggest argument against San Diego however is that of a non-existent soccer specific stadium.

One would be naïve to think this issue will be discussed seriously in the boardrooms of power (both MLS and the local Council) until the ongoing saga of the Chargers NFL future is put to bed. Furthermore, and I hate to break it to you kids, you only get an MLS franchise if you have a ton of cash and a nice shiny home to call your own.

The stadium is the key to soccer flourishing in the city and would fast become an icon of the future. It is a significantly less expensive option than the Chargers plan, would drive new revenue streams for the city and help drive stronger outcomes for the sport from the grassroots right up to whoever would be the team at the top of the local pyramid.

But until then I would encourage fans to rally around the teams that are already there fighting for your attention. San Diego is represented by three pro outdoor teams. The San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca, both of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and the San Diego Sea Lions (WPSL).

Both the Flash and Sea Lions had terrific seasons on the field and both fell agonizingly short of representing the city in a National Championship. Yet crowd numbers continue to be mired in the hundreds, not thousands and the awareness of these clubs is negligible.

On the eve of San Diego welcoming the 2012 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championships it’s time to ask ourselves why America’s Finest City is going through an identity crisis. It’s like Chris Wondolowski, scoring goals regularly and not getting the recognition he thoroughly deserves.

While the NPSL is the country’s fourth tier division, the quality is top draw. Not only did the U.S. Open Cup prove this with the Cinderella story of Cal FC, but also the fact that players from the San Diego Flash (under the guidance of former England International and Fox Soccer Lead Analyst, Warren Barton) have made the successful step up from NPSL to MLS. It was only last year that Flash player Ryan Guy signed a contract with the New England Revolution and two players from the recently completed 2012 campaign (Captain Adrian DuBois and midfielder Sergio Valle-Ortiz) had tryouts with the current MLS Western Conference leading San Jose Earthquakes.

So what is missing? That’s a difficult question to answer. But like all new franchises it takes time to build up the brand and the Flash are the ones leading the charge.

Not only are they hosting the NPSL Finals this weekend (July 27-29) but they are also rolling out a number of innovative programs tasked at growing the game at the grassroots and driving new collaborations with the youth soccer market. They also recently sent an expression of interest to David Downs of the NASL (yes, the same David Downs that mentioned San Diego as a potential market) with a view of joining the second tier of U.S. Soccer.

Couple this with their fan ownership model, their high profile partners (Barton, Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda and MLS starlet Temryss Lane) and the fact they are due to become publically traded soon, the future looks bright for San Diego pro soccer (

The reality is that San Diego is a soccer city. However it’s a two way street, not only is it up to administrators, associations, promoters and local clubs to foster new relationships with the fans and thriving youth market but it’s also up to the fans to reciprocate their advances and support them before we run out of chances to reach our potential.

That can all start this weekend by heading up to North County (Del Norte High School) and watching the NPSL National Championships. Support the Flash in their endeavors to bring top quality soccer to San Diego and our chance to show the rest of the U.S. that we deserve more soccer events in the future.

It was rather fitting that Wondolowski scored yet again, and hopefully San Diego takes its chance to shine this week too. There is no doubt both deserve every success.

NPSL Looks To Social Media To Broadcast Its National Championships To A Wider Audience

Soccer Support has just got its hands on the media advisory for this weekends National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) 2012 National Championships which is pasted below FYI.

The San Diego Flash (together with the San Diego Sports Commission) look like they are putting together an event with a strong social media focus. Ustream, Twitter and Facebook are being utilized to broadcast the championships to a national audience and it will be interesting to see the feedback on this weekends playoffs from fans and officials alike.

We wholeheartedly believe social media holds the keys to unlocking the potential for soccer in the U.S. and hope that fans across the country embrace the online platforms available to them and get involved with this years NPSL showcase which starts this Friday (July 27).

To follow all action of the NPSL National Championships being held in San Diego this weekend (July 27-29) check out;

Ustream access to all four Championship games:



The NPSL is the fourth tier on the U.S. soccer pyramid and has the potential to become a strong grassroots development league given its structure and geographical presence (49 teams across 19 states).

MEDIA ADVISORY – The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championships 2012

Fast Facts:

  • The NPSL National Championships takes place on Friday July 27 – Sunday July 29, 2012.
  • The NPSL Championship weekend will be a ‘Final Four’ style, 3 day event.
  • The four participating teams are the winners of the four NPSL Conferences – Bay Area Ambassadors (West), FC Sonic (Northeast), Chattanooga FC (South) and the Madison 56ers (MidWest)
  • The NPSL consists of 49 teams nationwide across 4 conferences.
  • All matches will be held at Del Norte High School, 16601 Nighthawk Lane, San Diego, CA, 92127.  All matches will be held in San Diego, CA.
  • The 2012 Final Four is hosted by the San Diego Flash who play in the NPSL West-Southern Conference.

Official Media Events:

Pre-Finals Press Conference: Friday July 27, 10 AM PST – Venue TBC

Post Finals Press Conference: Sunday July 29, 2:30 PM PST @ Del Norte

Event Overview:

The NPSL National Championships sees the Conference Champions from each region – the Northeast region, Southeast region, Midwest region, and the West region – come together in San Diego to playoff for the right to play in the Championship game. Playoffs occur on the opening day, with the third place playoff occurring on Saturday July 28 and the deciding match scheduled for Sunday July 29.

Friday’s playoff games are decided by a random draw held before the tournament begins.

About The Host Club:

The San Diego Flash Soccer Club play in the Western Conference of the NPSL. The Flash were reformed as a club due to the importance of giving today’s young soccer players the experiences of watching professional soccer in person; in their hometown of San Diego.

The Flash has had a very successful return to professional soccer and has won the West-Southern Conference in both 2011 and 2012 with a combined record of 23-3-3. The club was also awarded the hosting rights of the 2012 NSPL Championship Weekend which was a terrific coup for both the club and the city of San Diego.

About The Host City:

San Diego is a great host city for the NPSL Finals;

  • It is the 2nd largest city in California; 8th largest in the U.S.
  • It has the #1 Youth Soccer market in the United States and;
  • San Diego sits on the border next to México; where Soccer is already the #1 sport.

The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the U.S. Navy, and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology enclave.


One team from each of the four NPSL geographic regions will gain a berth into the 2012 NPSL National Championships. These teams were decided this past weekend after the respective regional playoffs have occurred.

West – Bay Area Ambassadors from Hayward, California

Northeast – FC Sonic Lehigh Valley from Allentown, Pennsylvania

Midwest – Madison 56ers from Madison, Wisconsin

South – Chattanooga FC from Chattanooga, Tennessee

The teams that qualified and their path to San Diego can be found on an official bracket designed by the host club on their corporate website

Timeline of Events:

NB: A final itinerary will be available when all the Conference Champions have been decided

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Teams begin arriving in San Diego.

Friday, July 27, 2012

10am – Press Conference – @ Town & Country Hotel.

3pm – Playoffs Game 1. FC Sonic vs Madison 56ers

7pm – Playoffs Game 2. Bay Area Ambassadors vs Chattanooga FC

Saturday, July 28, 2012

3pm – San Diego Flash Exhibition Game

7pm – 3rd Place PlayOff Game (Loser of Game 1 Vs. Loser of Game 2)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

12pm – NPSL Championship Game (Winner of Game 1 Vs. Winner of Game 2)

2:30pm – Press Conference – Del Norte High School

NB: Itinerary will be updated daily and released to key stakeholders.

League Information:

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), was founded in 2003 and is the highest ranking amateur soccer league in the United States.  The goal of the NPSL is to provide it’s clubs the opportunity to showcase and assist their players to progress onto the professional level, in turn giving fans affordable, high quality entertainment throughout the United States. The NPSL is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the ruling body for soccer in the United States and FIFA, the world’s ruling body for soccer.

Ticketing Information:

Tickets for the NPSL National Championships 2012 can be purchased online through Eventbrite.

Both 3 day passes and single game tickets are available.

Visitor Information:

For visiting fans, information on San Diego attractions, and the itinerary for official championship weekend events please visit



Volunteering…with benefits

We have mentioned in previous posts that we believe one of the major impediments to the growth of soccer in the U.S. is that of the costs to play. Talented kids have often fallen through the cracks due to the fees associated with the transition/progression from recreational to select soccer and especially those that come from low-socio economic areas.

If the sport is truly going to grow we must promote and develop our best prospects and find constructive ways to eliminate those barriers to entry that see many of those naturally gifted at sport move to Basketball, Baseball and (American) Football in their teens.

Clubs cost money to run and A LOT OF IT and like all organizations and businesses these costs flow down to the consumers/members.

This blog post will therefore look at two options we feel exist as alternatives to the traditional ways of running a community based club with all of the ideas leading to increased revenue for clubs, reduced fees for working families and opportunities to make clubs more efficient and in turn create new avenues for growth.

1.      Incentivizing volunteering at our grassroots soccer clubs.

What if the parents were rewarded for volunteering at their kids clubs through reduced fees or free equipment? Not only would clubs no longer struggle with finding volunteer coaches, board members etc but they would also create a new grassroots army that utilizes the skill and expertise of parents to drive new sponsorship, new members and best of all, more revenue.

Tim’s Dad is an accountant. Great – he will make a great Treasurer. Sarah’s Mum is an event planner. Great – she can organize the next fundraising event. The list goes on and on, and utilizing the undiscovered skills at the clubs disposal will lead to increased productivity and free up the club executive to work on future planning and revenue raising processes such as chasing new sponsors.

The potential for new identifying new revenue streams should far outweigh the concerns of giving reduced registration fees to its members and with volunteering rapidly changing in what is a very time poor environment this might go a long way in helping working families find that ideal work/life balance at the same time as playing an active role in their kids social development.

Alternatively how about clubs look at commissions for successful events? For example, what if a group of parents organized an open day in the local community and a percentage of the days profits made went directly to their children’s registration fees? All parties would benefit and the club would get more community exposure and the inherent benefits associated with it (eg more members, sponsors etc).

Failing a sustainable model that saw clubs unable to cover the discounts linked to club volunteerism what if the Associations or event Government stump up the cash as an option. Linking the program to healthy initiatives, social inclusion commitments or even parks and recreation budgets could lead to more kids playing sport outside rather than parents buying them FIFA for Xbox because it’s cheaper.

2.      Recruiting Underutilized Talent

It is important that clubs look to connect with professionals in the community that are either looking for work, are retired or are at college by offering them the opportunity to build a portfolio of work and body of credible experience.

Transitional Workers

Since the Global Financial Crisis hit the U.S. a number of able Americans were left without a job. The recovery has been slow and the market has just not bounced back as expected. People are looking to keep active and continue to seek a continued work history and a competitive edge when heading into future interviews.

Effectively helping both parties out and in some circumstances have individuals carving out their own employment path with a local soccer club.


For all those that are currently running clubs, there are just as many that have run them in the past. We should look to activate retired and semi-retired skilled professionals (with transferrable skills to the day to day running of clubs) to provide mentoring support to clubs and volunteers. A former CEO using his/her business/boardroom skills to train the current executive, a former architect helping with the designs for a new equipment shed etc.

We should not discount what our older Americans have to offer in terms of experience, or their passion for giving back to the community.

College Students

Surely there are University students undertaking business, philanthropy, graphic design, audiovisual, and sports management degree options that would benefit from being exposed and challenged by the unique needs of grassroots soccer clubs. Every soccer club should leverage summer internship opportunities. Paying students $1,000 for 3 months of work which they can get credit for is a win-win for clubs especially if they are tasked with revenue raising projects.

As you can see there are a lot of opportunities out there for clubs to increase revenue while directly helping their members work towards reduced registration fees or even future job opportunities. Let’s continue to #GrowTheGame at the grassroots by looking outside the box and realizing the answers to growth are out there if people are willing to open themselves up to new ideas.