#SoccerSpeakUSA Summary – ‘Women in Soccer – The Road Ahead’

With all the excitement of releasing your second album but with the concern you might have been a one hit wonder,  we kicked off our second #SoccerSpeakUSA Twitter Chat. With some improvements to the overall flow of the chat, feedback from users suggest that we are on the right track to create an avenue for simple, fun and constructive dialogue, linking the grassroots and equipping them with the tools to help grow a stronger game in the U.S.

The theme for this week’s chat was ‘Women in Soccer – The Road Ahead’ which was sure to be a lively debate given the recent announcement of the WPS that it would suspend its 2012 season and that the WPSL would move to fill that void by creating a new ‘Elite League’.

To those that are unfamiliar with the #SoccerSpeakUSA chats – each week we provide a summary of the chat for those that missed it including the top 3 posts from each question. We also announce a weekly ‘Tweeter of the week’ who will be featured in this summary and goes to the person Soccer Support feels gave the best insights and responses during the hour and embodied what #SoccerSpeakUSA is setting out to achieve.

WEEK 2 SUMMARY

Q1. Who do you feel are the most influential people online in Womens Soccer?

@futboldaddy: There’s lots & I’m finding more all the time. @jeffkassouf @jenna_awk @womenssoccerunited @juliefoudy

@Deegley: The fans. They circulate petitions, tweet fox soccer into submission and let us soccer know what they want

Discussion then centered around where people are influential online and what that essential communication mix needed to be. It was widely agreed that Facebook is like reading the paper & Twitter is like watching the news with more immediate impact. From that point on users started looking into the issues of transparency and accountability when explaining how influence can be harnessed to help grow the game.

@justkhoai: Transparency=def important! Got 2 hold every1, including fans, accountable 4 getting leagues and sport 2 grow.

Q2. Should #WPS return in 2013 or should we look to continue/develop #WPSL Elite League

@Gillian_E_Dubbs: We need #WPS back…no doubt…BUT with the right business plan. WPSL should continue development, but def need #WPS back

Users were almost unanimously in favour of bringing back the WPS for 2013 but it was also acknowledged that the WPSL & W-League would play an important role for 2012, especially with the London Olympics just around the corner. This was probably the most exciting part of the night so we would be doing this summary a disservice if we didn’t touch on some of the major issues flagged during the chat. These included;

• The WPS marketing strategy

• If the WPS should continue offering franchises or have clubs develop on their own merits

• That the WPSL Elite League should continue as a stepping stone for clubs to enter WPS in future seasons

• That the WPS was never really a national competition due to the lack of West Coast teams

We then retweeted a post earlier in the week from Charlie Naimo, who was the former General Manager of the Los Angeles Sol and current head coach of W-League LA Blues. “There are just too many people doing their own thing in womens soccer right now- the top people need to come together or its over”

@backseatgaffer: I think trying to limit who’s in the room (the top people thing) produces tunnelvision/in-fighting. #SoccerSpeakUSA

@Deegley: Really, who gets to decide who is in the room anyway. Let them compete in the marketplace

Interesting that we end question 2 on the merits of a free market economy but that’s the beauty of #SoccerSpeakUSA!

Q3. Has the continued success of the #USWNT been detrimental or beneficial to U.S. professional soccer domestically?

@CarolinaHookMan: I think it’s DEFINITELY raised awareness 4 US Soccer & Women’s soccer

The simple answer was always going to be yes – but did the ongoing national success give people a false sense of a healthy WPS? A number of users all mentioned that the WPS could have done better in terms of their marketing strategy and gone one step further by building franchises around certain USWNT players.

@hercircumstance: Players should be complimenting a marketing plan already in place. Can’t be expected to fix what WPS stank at

One of the biggest untapped resources of the game is that of its fans and it was discussed whether an open process and new conversation between all stakeholders of the game could have a positive impact on the future directions of women’s soccer in the U.S.

@IT2theDLeon future of soccer is dependent on movements like #growthegame & determined fans. media, plyrs only part of ansr

@Gillian_E_Dubbs: I make submissions even when they don’t open it up to us. If they opened it to us I wouldn’t shut up.

So with all that energy in the grassroots of the game it was perfect timing that our last question for the night asked the very honest question of ‘what would you do?’

#SoccerSpeakUSA opens the floor to Tweeps each week to encourage more diversity in the questions being asked. Q4 sees @KimTateSports ask…

Q4: What will you do to support Women’s soccer in absence of #WPS

@chandrimatweets: looking to push traditional print media and online media on publishing MLS and WPS/W-League stories.

@futboldaddy: Keep talking about it! Using any available platform: blogs, twitter, fb, etc… Go to games (WPSL, W-League, USWNT)…

It was widely acknowledged that continuing to promote soccer was the best way to grow the game.

@connectingwomen: Soccer has been steadily growing in the USA. More info is still needed

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. The USWNT sells itself while the WPS needs to make a stronger commitment to advertising as part of a concerted effort to create a bigger market share for its franchises. Leaving clubs to promote themselves only leads to exposure in small markets and not the women’s game as a whole.

At the conclusion of this week’s discussion it was clearly evident that there is a genuine passion for the womens side of the game. Those that participated in the chat didn’t see the failure of WPS in 2012 as a fatal wound for the domestic game, more of an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and focus on the basics of a strong and sustainable league. Hopefully #SoccerSpeakUSA has been the catalyst for people to get together and start making noise at the grassroots for change.

This week’s chat was a great advertisement for the power of online organizing. At the end of the day, we here at Soccer Support want to provide platforms that work and most of all appeal to U.S. soccer fans across all tiers of the game.

#GROWTHEGAME TWEETER OF THE WEEK

And so that brings us to the #GrowTheGame Tweeter of the week…this week we had to hand it to @Deegley who had some very honest viewpoints on the current state of the womens game. She also hit the nail on the head when she mentioned that the fans were the most influential people in the game today. The sooner we all realize this, the better. @Deegley has won the right to promote a particular blog, website or team and she can redeem this prize by emailing info@soccersupport.us or sending @SoccerSupport a DM through Twitter with the details.

UNTIL NEXT WEEK…

#SoccerSpeakUSA returns next week (2/22/12) at the regular time and day of Wednesdays at 4:30pm PST and 7:30PM EST.

The conversation doesn’t stop there though. Fans across the country are encouraged to use the #GrowTheGame hashtag during the week to be linked with other like-minded people and talk all thing soccer.

If you would like more info on #SoccerSpeakUSA, Soccer Support, our #GrowTheGame project or perhaps to submit question 4 for next week email info@soccersupport.us

See you all next week!

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