Help #GrowTheGame By Finding Soccer Jobs For Our Best & Brightest

Today we retweeted a job posted by the San Diego Flash Soccer Club (@SDFlashSoccer) calling for people to become members of a new street team they are obviously assembling to help increase their community outreach.

However it was the feedback that we received from users asking about the job and where they can get more information that really got us thinking – why is no-one aggregating all the soccer jobs that get posted across the country?

If we are to #GrowTheGame we should be broadcasting opportunities for new positions within the sport far and wide to attract the most talented applicants. Not only can teams, colleges and other organizations (both non & for profit)  recruit the best candidates for those individual roles, but the sport can ultimately have the best people in those key positions which can help to drive soccer forward and reach its potential in the U.S.

We should have the best people in sales selling tickets to get fans in seats.

We should have the most talented coaches nurturing our future talent.

We should have the best advertising and marketing team promoting the sport from grassroots through to national campaigns.

People at the top of their respective fields and who have a passion for soccer should be encouraged to chase after their dream job. After all it’s the sports that benefits from a more professional approach and when the sport wins, the fans win.

That’s why we have created the new Twitter account @SoccerJobsUSA so that we can help spread the word. So make sure you follow the dude with a soccer ball for a head and wearing a suit for all the latest openings across the U.S.

Soccer Support is also encouraging people to join us in sharing news of local, state and national soccer jobs through their social networks to help drive a new wave of talent to the sport. It’s a simple task than can reap significant reward and can be our own little contribution to #GrowTheGame

30 Ways To Improve Your Soccer Clubs Community Outreach Activities

There are many benefits in engaging with your local community and for that reason outreach is fast becoming an essential component in becoming a sustainable 21st century club.

Being entrenched in your local area not only increases your clubs exposure to potential sponsors but also your ability to attract new players.

We would encourage clubs to contemplate creating a stand-alone position on their executive to deal with this important area of club development and to design a strategy that embraces every opportunity available for your club to grow.

Soccer Support understands that this is no simple task, so we have compiled a list of 30 of our favorite and most cost effective outreach activities that can help get your club on the road to new and successful partnerships that will reap huge rewards. We know clubs aren’t awash with cash so it’s important your plans are modest yet can have big returns.

In no particular order;

  1. Have a club open day
  2. Have an investors evening, inviting local business to hear about you club & sponsorship options
  3. Record a weekly podcast inviting local groups to promote what they do
  4. Invite local non-profits to run your bbq’s on game days.
  5. Organize a meeting with local media
  6. Create memberships for non-playing supporters
  7. Partner with a local charity and fundraise for them at official events
  8. Give out prizes donated from local businesses each week for man of the match
  9. Recruit a street team to go out in the community to disseminate club info and cultivate local relationships
  10. Give birthday cards/vouchers etc out to junior players on their special day
  11. Have a club alumni (ex-players) event
  12. Have a volunteers appreciation luncheon
  13. Focus on your social media presence and local interactions
  14. Broadcast games live through U-Stream
  15. Give out free tickets to games
  16. Rent promotional/booth space at local community events
  17. Write a club specific blog highlighting upcoming fixtures and achievements
  18. Reward loyalty – club honor boards for playing 50 games for the club etc
  19. If a junior only club, link with a senior club to continue pathways for juniors
  20. Have bursaries for junior players which can’t afford registrations fees
  21. Sponsorship boards – sell plaques to local businesses and showcase them in clubhouses
  22. Organize a trivia night and open it up to the local community
  23. Sell club merchandise
  24. Become affiliated to local chamber of commerce and head to networking events
  25. Host soccer clinics for local disadvantaged kids
  26. Have multi-tiered sponsorship options. Sponsor game ball, match day programs etc. Don’t limit your ability to attract new supporters
  27. Send ‘wish you were here’ postcards to local businesses. Get cards for free from Vistaprint etc
  28. Have a themed event such as playing in pink socks to raise awareness for breast cancer
  29. Link with your local pro teams to organize game day visits, be ballboys/girls and mascots
  30. Name your new mascot competition – gets people of all ages talking about your club

What events has your club organized that have created stronger relationships with your local community? Any successes or failures that other clubs can learn from?

Share your ideas online with the hashtag #GrowTheGame to help strengthen soccer from the grassroots up.

Local sponsors are eager to partner with organizations if they are the right fit. Therefore community outreach plays an increasingly important role in distinguishing your soccer club from similar organizations in your region.

Soccer Support also offers attractive membership packages to grassroots clubs across the country with a primary focus on modernizing clubs for the 21st century.By working directly with its members, Soccer Support helps create new revenue streams, an increased exposure to sponsors and players, sustainability measures and most importantly future planning, in what is a saturated and extremely competitive market.

For more information on our list of services please email info@soccersupport.us

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U.S. Soccer’s First Awards Program Dedicated Solely To Excellence & Achievement In Social Media Is Here!

Following on from the success of the #GrowTheGame pilot which was held in San Diego on April 14 & 15 and saw over 500 people participate in a weekend of soccer related activities, it was only a matter of time before #GrowTheGame picked up its organizing kit and headed to a new host city to act as a catalyst for grassroots change and new conversations between tits local soccer community.

This time #GrowTheGame is going to reach out to a broader online base as it looks to celebrate Social Media Week 2012 and embrace the ability of social media to drive new outcomes for soccer and help it continue its steady march to breaking up the monopoly of the other ‘big four’ American Sports.

There is now more fitting theme for this year’s Social Media Week than “Empowering Change Through Collaboration” and with that at the forefront of our drive for grassroots change in the sport we announce our first event for #GrowTheGame Los Angeles – The Cosmos Awards.

Entries for the 11 award categories are now open with the nomination button being located on the www.growthegame.us website through the ‘Cosmos Awards’ page.

We have included the event details and nomination process below and encourage you to nominate friends or those your respect in the industry for the inaugural awards ceremony to be held on Thursday September 27 in LA.

We look forward to announcing more #GrowTheGame events in the coming weeks and months.

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Welcome to the first ever Cosmos Awards which are the first formal Social Media Awards for U.S. Soccer. The Awards are one of the many proposed projects for the next #GrowTheGame event which is scheduled this September in LA as part of Social Media Week* 2012.

The concept for these awards came from a need to formally acknowledge the exceptional work of clubs, players and the fans that help develop the game through new media platforms.

More often than not we find soccer related news is lost in the clutter of traditional media with more focus, emphasis, commentary and opinion pieces going to the ‘big four’ American sports of American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey.

That’s why it’s important to encourage people to continue to blog, tweet and post original content to not only satisfy the thirst for knowledge of soccer enthusiasts across the country but also fill that void that traditional media has left for the sport in newspapers, radio and television up and down the country.

In short, the awards will recognize and celebrate the most influential members of the U.S. Soccer social media community and celebrate all they have given and continue to give to the sport in the U.S.

Why the Cosmos Awards?

It was decided that we name these awards after the New York Cosmos of the 1970/80s as an acknowledgement of the cultural impact and influence the club had on U.S. Soccer and the ambition of the club to bring World Class players to our shores to help #GrowTheGame.

With the sport largely unnoticed and domestic league struggling it was the Cosmos that brought players of the caliber of Pele and Beckenbauer and single handedly drove new levels of exposure for the sport in the U.S.

It is this passion, commitment and audacity of both individuals and organizations to drive new levels of exposure for the sport in this country that make the Cosmos Awards the most appropriate name for this #GrowTheGame project.

Did you know? Days after Pele’s arrival, the increased media attention caused the Cosmos’ office staff to increase from five people to more than 50.

Awards Night

The awards are due to be held on Thursday September 27 in Los Angeles during  Social Media Week* and #GrowTheGame Los Angeles.

More information on the Awards Night, the venue and ticket allocations will be announced shortly.

The Nomination Process

Soccer fans are encouraged to nominate social media users (across all platforms) for excellence over the past year (July 1 2011 – June 1 2012). Each award recognizes the continued efforts of users to create original content not just a once off tweet or post.

Those nominated must have been a resident of the United States prior to June 1, 2012.

There are an ‘XI’ of categories to be nominated for, with the top 3 vote getters in each category going on to the judging round which will feature prominent players, coaches and analysts from the world of U.S. Soccer to decide who takes out each award. The judging panel’s decision will be final.

Categories Blog It – The best U.S. Soccer Blogger. Original content, thought provoking posts and a commitment to address the topics no-one wants to ask. Flashtag – The best hashtag used over the past year to drive exposure and conversation about a particular issue or event in U.S. Soccer. Campaign Fever – The most creative and coordinated campaign on the internet which saw high levels of traffic and interaction between soccer fans. Going Pro – The best use of social media by a professional soccer club. Future Talent – The best use of social media by a youth soccer club. Women Utd – The best use of social media by a women’s soccer club. Soccer For Social Change – Organizations or individuals that use soccer as the platform for creating a better society or make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Goal TV – Best & most innovative use of video to promote soccer in the U.S. Soccer Influencer – When this person talks about the beautiful game, people listen (and RT). Icon – The best use of social media by a player or former player who is fun, informative and inspirational to soccer fans in the U.S. The Source – The most trusted source of original and timely soccer related news and reporting in the U.S.

How To Nominate

To nominate someone for these award please use the Twitter button below and fill in the blanks. For example to nominate Soccer Support for best hashtag you would fill in ‘I nominate @SoccerSupport for a ‘Cosmos Award’ in the Flashtag category because they #GrowTheGame’

You will need to fill in the Twitter handle and category you are nominating that individual or group for. You will then be contacted by @SoccerSupport with a link to fill in the details of why your nominee should win a Cosmos Award.

Nominations close 9pm PST Friday August 17.

Organizers of The Cosmos Awards will be in touch with those shortlisted shortly after nominations close to discuss the competition in more detail and to obtain further information to help determine who should win that award category.

Sponsoring the Awards

Opportunities exist to sponsor the Cosmos Awards, the Awards night in Los Angeles or specific award categories. For more information e-mail pr@growthegame.us

Stay Updated

Get news about the awards by joining our e-mail list on our home page, reading the Soccer Speak USA blog, becoming a fan of Soccer Support on Facebook, and following @SoccerSupport on Twitter.

Contact Us

For more information on the Awards or other enquiries related to the Awards, #GrowTheGame Los Angeles or Soccer Support email info@growthegame.us

About Us

The Cosmos Awards are produced by Soccer Support, a grassroots organization committed to help soccer realize its potential in the U.S.

For more information on Soccer Support visit www.soccersupport.us

History of the #GrowTheGame Hashtag

Having the grassroots of U.S. soccer coin the phrase #GrowTheGame is more a reflection of where we believe the sport can make the biggest gains in our quest to help it realize its potential. Growing the game will lead to more exposure for clubs and players and a greater pool of resources to share and distribute.

A number of soccer fans (through our Twitter account @SoccerSupport) have been asking about our new hashtag #GrowTheGame and how they can use it effectively to help voice their own ideas and share best practices with other like-minded users online.

When we first started using Twitter we discovered an underlying need for something to bridge that gap between tweeting, being heard and creating a strong online hub for soccer information. That’s why we have introduced a hashtag on Twitter to make connecting with fans & sharing content a much easier process.

The full article from the Soccer Speak USA blog can be found here;

*The Cosmos Awards Are Not Yet An Official Event Or Partner Of Social Media Week

NEWS FLASH: U.S. Wins the 2027 America’s Cup – Hypotheticals For The Development of the USMNT

Neymar’s final competitive game for Brazil ended in heartbreak today when the defending champions lost to the Clint Dempsey coached USMNT 3-1 in the final of the 2027 America’s Cup.

The USMNT who are starting to find their rhythm against their new regular opposition from South America became the first North American nation to win the revamped competition that saw the Gold Cup and Copa America combine to create a new championship that now rivals the UEFA Cup for the strongest competition outside of the FIFA World Cup

After reading the hypothetical article recently posted on ESPN Soccernet as to whether the U.S. would be successful if it were drawn in Group A at the European Championships* (alongside Russia, Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic), we started creating our own hypotheticals as to whether some major changes at an international level would help in the development and ultimately future successes of the USMNT.

If we are being brutally honest here, CONCACAF is weaker than all the other confederations except for Oceania and is nothing more than a rubber stamp for World Cup Qualification. In a touch of irony the winner of the Oceania Play-Offs (presumably New Zealand) will play the 4th placed CONCACAF team which if all went terribly wrong could be the USMNT.

In 2005 (and after 30 years of lobbying) Australia was granted permission to leave the weaker Oceania Confederation and join the much stronger Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

This has led to better competition on a regular basis, better pathways for its club teams, more ability for its players to move overseas and develop their talents and it is no coincidence that since this move Australia has gone through one of its most successful phases of its international soccer history.

So continuing with the hypothetical nature of this post, what would be the realistic options for the USMNT? Do we continue down the path of almost guaranteed World Cup qualification and the usual outcomes of a final match-up against Mexico in the Gold Cup and be satisfied with that (and an eternity of possible international mediocrity)? Or do we follow the lead of Australia and look at the viable alternatives.

Personally we don’t think that moving confederations is a viable move given location etc. and it is important to note the competition is developing (especially in Canada) which will in turn improve the quality of future match-ups. It would also be a bad move in giving up a near certain World Cup spot (Australia was unique as it wanted a better chance of qualifying rather than the risks of playing off against South American teams in a two leg shootout).

So now that the confederation move has been taken off the table what other options are out there to help improve the experience and quality of the USMNT?

Our suggestions are one of two options that have much the same outcomes.

  1. The USMNT seek entry into the Copa America (not as a guest nation but as a team that goes through that qualification process; or (and this is our preferred option)                              
  2. That the Gold Cup and Copa America be combined into an expanded America’s Cup with teams from both confederations.

The benefits of these options are obvious as much as they are important. Firstly the new challenges of competing with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay on a regular basis speak for themselves and the continued exposure to a new continental style of play will have an effect on our own style of play (hopefully an improvement).

Playing devil’s advocate to the devil’s advocate, we don’t believe it cheapens the CONCACAF zone as the USMNT team will still go through that World Cup qualifying process and our first suggestion would see the Gold Cup become more important to the lower ranked nations and therefore see them introduce systems to improve the quality of their own teams.

Diego Forlan kisses the Copa America after his Uruguay side claimed victory in the 2011 final.

We always try not to go into too much detail as we prefer to foster genuine discussion as our contribution to #GrowTheGame. We would love to hear your thoughts on a possible America’s Cup or the possible entry of the USMNT (and presumably Mexico) into the Copa America Championships. Heck, we would also like to see if you think the USMNT would make it through Group A as mentioned at the start of the post. Just remember to use #GrowTheGame at the end of your tweets.

In conclusion and while on the subject of improving the quality of the USMNT it is important to acknowledge the new ambition and drive that USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the national team. His penchant for seeking friendly matches against much stronger opposition has not gone unnoticed by fans and obviously he has highlighted the fact that friendlies against teams in the top 40-50 are more about results than development.

So don’t worry if we lose to Brazil and don’t raise expectations if we beat Italy – it’s the experience against world class players that will continue to see us improve. In the end all the fans want to see is the US reach its potential in the sport and challenge for major international honors in the future.

 

How To Lobby You Local Politician For Better Soccer Facilities In An Election Year

Many club volunteers and board members have asked me directly in one way or another how they get in front of a politician to plead their case for more fields, better infrastructure and more money. The simple answer is you don’t, but that’s because you haven’t developed a strategy to get on their radar yet.

My background is in politics and if you haven’t noticed yet our #GrowTheGame strategy is firmly entrenched in the principles of grassroots campaigning, but we aren’t trying to elect a President, we are trying to help soccer reach its potential here in the U.S.  With this prior knowledge we decided to compile a ‘cheat sheet’ to help your club, league or association become an influential group with the power to demand their attention and deliver on your needs.

This post will provide you with a simple roadmap to grassroots action. We hope it can be the catalyst for improvements to our soccer infrastructure up and down the country and while every proposal and politician is different, the guiding principles should help get your foot in the door of decision makers to help your club be heard through all the community clutter.

DEVELOPING YOUR STRATEGY

As like all businesses you need a plan before you pitch to those that pull the financial levers. Don’t just knock on their door hoping for a handout – you will be cast aside in two seconds.

Ask yourselves two simple questions that will help you establish realistic goals.

What do you want? Understand what you really want from this project. Don’t chase 1 10,000 all-seater stadium if you have only 100 members. If you can’t convey what you want in 30 seconds then you don’t know what you want.

What is your current situation? Be honest with your financial situation and your members. Is your time and energy better suited to fundraising for new equipment in the short term? Are your fields really that bad or are you too big for your current facilities which are impeding your growth?

Once you have answered these questions it’s now time to start the planning phase of your project.

Discuss the proposal at a board level: Board members might have audacious plans for a new soccer complex but this might not reflect the direction of the club and funding might be prioritized elsewhere. Make sure any potential projects are discussed at a board level and a resolution is made to progress with the proposal. It is also important that one person is appointed to oversee the project and a potential sub-committee is flagged.

Back-up your plans with statistics: – Most proposals lack the necessary data that adds weight and a strong argument to the proposal. Review the census data of the local area (are you located in a low-socioeconomic area, is your region growing above state averages), discuss the number of players in your league, the growth of the competition etc. You need to paint a picture of your situation to someone that doesn’t know anything about the working of your club. Give them the reasons why you need these upgrades.

Hold community discussions: When a project is considered it isn’t a simple case of yes/no. Consultations with the community and impact statements are red tape factors that you will encounter along the way. Make that job easier by pre-empting these moves and working collaboratively with local businesses, parents, chamber of commerce etc so they know what is going on, how it will benefit the community and so on. Communication is an important part of any successful project. Who knows it might even lead to future sponsorship!

Survey other sports: Soccer has always played second fiddle to American Football and Baseball projects. Take some time to check out the local area and see what has been funded over the past decade. You can make a real issue of funding not being shared equally especially if the local baseball field has seen three major upgrades over the past 5 years. Take photos of these facilities and compare them against your grounds. A picture tells a thousand words…

Flag proposal with local leagues and associations: Never put your eggs in one basket. While this post is geared towards obtaining government funds, many leagues and state associations have grants for field upgrades and have matching components which might make the decision to fund your project from a government perspective a bit easier. Once your board has signed off on an infrastructure project let these organizations know that this is on your agenda.

Don’t start spending money on drawing up plans: Progress the concept before you spend thousands on drawing up plans of what it will look like. If the fields are run by the local city council then it is they who will draft the plans. At this stage you are looking at substance over style.

Set timelines: As with all projects it is important that you set timelines for the project and establish a set of key performance indicators (KPI’s) to see if the project is proceeding according to plan. It also helps you highlight what is stalling any progress so you can revisit that part in a timely fashion. Trust us when we say they will not be chasing you up!

Business plan/Prospectus: Develop a comprehensive business plan. Outline all of the above points. Make conservative estimates of the costs and compile them all into a stylish looking prospectus. This document is what is going to change views and opinions so make it look professional. Upload it to your website, link it to social media platforms, post it to local community groups and spread it far and wide to build support for the project.

BUILDING COMMUNITY SUPPORT

The next step of your project should be to build broad support for its implementation. Awareness is the key and can be achieved in the following ways.

Media: An important part of any community project is getting attention and community support for its implementation. A free and powerful resource is your local newspaper. Find your angle for the story and pitch it to local reporters, outline how your club is suffering and the positives it will bring to the local community if supported. If you have no luck with this, write your own media release, take a photo that represents the story (include kids and parents looking disappointed for maximum effect) and send it to the papers directly.

Create a sports advisory group: Creating influence can come in many forms. Alliances are a great way of developing instant credibility compared to starting a brand new organization. A sports advisory group is an informal group of representatives from each local sporting organization (no matter how small) which gets together to discuss local sporting infrastructure which helps develop thriving sporting hubs in the local community and most importantly, an input into its development.

From this approach all sports benefit across the city from shared networks and skills. Make sure your project is on any future blueprints for sport in the city.

Letters of Support: If you are looking at adding more weight and credibility to your project, we suggest you source letters of support from reputable sources including politicians and prominent community leaders/businesses and the city/state association which outline the benefits of the project to the local community and the sport.

Advertise: Do a direct mail drop to the local area stressing the importance of the project to the community, advertise in local school newsletter etc – go where your membership goes and don’t be afraid to look outside the box to get your message out. Remember is successful you could obtain a multi-million dollar complex…I’m sure you would agree this is all worth it in the end!

Partnerships:

With other clubs: Some cities have too many clubs which has diluted the quality of talent and stretched facilities to their limit. If appropriate/applicable discuss the possibilities of partnering with other local clubs to move to bigger and better facilities. This can involve club mergers or ground sharing agreements – either way you will see the benefits of improved facilities and cost sharing.

With other sports: Do you share multi-purpose fields with American Football and Baseball? Include them in your ongoing discussions and planning. Never think that an upgrade to your complex will result in the transition from multi-sport fields to soccer specific alternatives. Embrace your neighbors and share in their contacts and experience – it’s better if you all win than receive nothing.

Public Private Partnerships: This e-book might give the impression that Government is a piñata waiting to be smashed open. Sadly it is not, and they are not obliged to fund your proposals regardless of how great they might be. Given this fact, don’t be afraid to approach local businesses who would be willing to pay for part of the project in return for naming rights sponsorship, joint use of the new facilities etc. Find out what is available and whether it might suit your situation.

ENGAGEMENT

It’s all about the numbers!

Politicians are obsessed with numbers. If you can accrue a large number of supporters you will have their attention. The easiest way of doing this includes;

Petitions: The most traditional and quickest way of amassing large numbers is by organizing a petition. Outline what it is you are getting people to sign in support of and go to training sessions, matches, and tournaments (even MLS games for that matter) and get people to sign it. People will sign petitions if they are not polarizing in anyway and it can be done in 30 seconds.

Social Media: Supplement your projects with things that take 5 minutes to set-up and can yield quick results and help sell your message. Don’t mess around with other platforms like FlickR, Instagram etc. Use those that the majority of your club supporters will be on.

Facebook: Put your project up as a page/cause and invite all your friends. Post updates of the projects or invite them to future club events. Join your local politicians’ page or send them a friend request so you can invite them to future events etc.

Twitter: Post updates about the project regularly and link it back to your website/blog that has information about the plan on it. Also use the hashtag #GrowTheGame to get your project on the radar of other grassroots clubs and supporters that might be able to assist.

Follow your local politicians and businesses and cc them into posts to keep them informed. But don’t spam or call them out for RT’s – its unprofessional

Blog: Put your plans on your website – upload the links to Reddit & StumbleUpon with some clever tags and create more exposure for your project. Some of my most widely read blog posts have been through the momentum generated through these platforms.

YouTube: Make a video about your project and post it online. You can find talented videographers for cheap these days and this will help visualize your project to those that don’t see the ‘big picture’

DIRECT ACTION

Don’t wait on a phone call. Drive the agenda yourself – you are stronger when you are the one directing the flow of information about your project.

Fundraising $$$’s: Many government or association grants have $ for $ matching components so it’s important that you are aware that there is no such thing as a blank check. Do the hard work to prove that you are serious in achieving this goal in any way possible – micro funding through your members, crowd funding platforms etc are innovative new ways to raise dollars for your projects fast.

Connecting with Staffers: Don’t worry if you don’t get a direct face-to-face meeting with your elected official – building relationships with their staff is just as important. A politician’s advisor is their eyes and ears in the community and a trusted advisor will always be able to sway their bosses’ decision in your favor. The staffer will be your first point of contact and it is he/she who you will need to convince first of the merits/benefits of your project if you are to get a meeting your local politician.

Letters to editor: Write in to your local paper saying how bad the soccer facilities are. Generate community interest.

Talk back radio: Phone up your local sports show when soccer is being discussed (not when its Super Bowl Weekend) and tell them about the need for an upgrade. Discuss the positives of the game and emphasize kids and families.

Pro forma letters/postcards to officials: Design some free postcards/letters at Vistaprint and have members of the community sign and send them in. This will show you are organized and professional and always sends a shiver up the spine of any political office.

CONCLUSION: 2012 IS ‘THE’ YEAR TO BE HEARD

The great news is that 2012 is an election year which means organizations that have large memberships (read: voting blocs) will be well placed to demand outcomes from candidates running for office.

Feel free to approach your member or their staff to organize a meeting to discuss your project. Just make sure you are prepared for it. Politicians are very astute and you will need to articulate to them the entire project in two minutes or you will lose their attention.

Don’t be sold on ‘talk’ – they will promise you the world in return for your support. Ask for a media event (they come to your club to announce what they will do for the local soccer community) or a joint media release outlining any potential support for a project should they be elected. Better still if one candidate pledges to support your endeavors the others should follow suit which will make the likelihood of its implementation a bit stronger.

NB: Projects might be promised but are often shelved due to budget cuts (especially in the current economic climate) so always continue campaigning and getting your message out until it is built. We have seen projects have millions of dollars in planning spent and then construction never happened – don’t let that happen to you.

WHAT CLUBS SHOULD BE DOING…NOW

Whether clubs have a project ready to go or this post has just inspired you to start the journey towards new soccer facilities, there is something that all clubs can do to help develop local grassroots soccer and help #GrowTheGame.

Through the primary season and up until the general election in November we are encouraging clubs, leagues and associations to get in contact with their local representatives and ask for them to commit to a review into citywide soccer infrastructure and to add in any local issues you deem fit.

Getting soccer on the agenda for grassroots development is an important strategy if we are to #GrowTheGame and is as simple as sending in a letter or email. Together we can help soccer realize its potential in the U.S.

We would love to hear about you projects (both ongoing and prospective) and if there is any help we can provide your club to making your objectives a reality contact us at info@soccersupport.us

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About Soccer Support

Soccer Support develops and advocates policies on behalf of our members and stakeholders, with the aim of making a positive difference for our members, our communities and our sport with respect to sporting infrastructure, health initiatives, funding streams and the current needs of sports number one consumer – the grassroots of the game.

Through ongoing activities and our State of Soccer Report, Soccer Support acts as the largest Independent voice of grassroots soccer giving players, fans, coaches and administrators a chance to outline ways, in which the sport can continue to innovate, improve and grow to reach its potential here in the U.S.

Advocacy

Advocacy is one of the most important intangible services Soccer Support contributes to the grassroots of the game.

Soccer Support, as the collective voice of grassroots soccer, formulates recommendations for the game in consultation with the soccer community to help ‘Grow The Game’. Soccer Support focuses on issues such as investment in the grassroots of the sport, soccer infrastructure and coaching and refereeing best practice to name but a few. To put it simply, it’s about having a conversation about the sport, making our views known to U.S. Soccer and FIFA, while unlocking the doors to investment and growth.

Soccer Support prides itself on being the grassroots ‘go-to’ group for providing a balanced and honest account of where the game currently is, and advocating for positive change at every opportunity.

Another significant part of our advocacy efforts is to educate our members about key changes to the sport and funding streams through programs that may include webinars, trade fairs, publications, group presentations, and other online avenues.

Lobbying Activities

Many grassroots clubs and leagues are restricted in their growth due to a lack of sporting infrastructure amongst the other things outlined above. Soccer Support, through its membership, liaises with soccer administrators, government, business and the community to create awareness of the needs of the soccer community and deliver strong tangible outcomes for the sport. These lobbying activities help progress our advocacy agenda.

Our advocacy and lobbying activities are just two services of our attractive membership packages to help modernizing grassroots clubs for the 21st century.

By working directly with its members, Soccer Support helps create new revenue streams, an increased exposure to sponsors and players, sustainability measures and most importantly future planning, in what is a saturated and extremely competitive market.

Soccer Support acts as the following;

• Sponsorship Brokers;

• Soccer Lobbyists;

• Grant Writers;

• Club Consultants; and

• Marketing Specialists

Soccer Support has three levels of membership available to clubs as well as individual options. For more information on these packages email info@soccersupport.us

EA Sports Should Open Up Cover Selection To U.S. Soccer Fans And Bring It Into Line With Other U.S. Sports – Our Advice…

While perusing another major sports website (shame on us), we couldn’t help but notice the ongoing competition for the cover athlete of EA Sports NHL ’13. Now down to the final 8 players, the voting process sees a number of players compete against one another in a public vote to determine who will grace the cover of the much lauded computer game series.

This is the first time the NHL title of EA Sports extremely popular games has gone done this path of cover selection but we all know the long history, successes and failures (think ‘Madden Curse’) of the NFL version.

Looking further into the voting process (which can be found here http://covervote.nhl.com/:b=ie9/#/ballot)  and seeing that hundreds of thousands of votes have already been cast, we can’t help but think that these numbers are transferrable to a soccer market which has (according to FIFA) 26 million registered and recreational players nationwide.

Thinking we were onto something, we did a bit more research into the concept and found a similar piece in the GGFIFA forum (http://ggfifa.com/fifa-13-cover-vote/) that pointed out;

FIFA sales have continued to increase every year, with over 8 million copies of FIFA 12 already being sold so far. That is about double the number of Madden 12 games that have been purchased. According to EA it was the fastest selling sports game ever. Simply put, the FIFA community is too large to not have a say in who gets put on the cover.

Landon Donovan has graced the U.S. cover of the past 2 FIFA titles (’11 & ’12) and while ’13 has probably been all but sewn up by EA Sports Marketing Division, it’s high time they put the decision in the hands of the ones that ultimately buy the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all the above points, facts and figures in mind we would suggest the following format for a potential 2013/14 cover vote;

  • That a 20 player elimination bracket be created*
  • That the shortlist of players be drawn from this year’s All-Star votes.
  • That every club be represented by a player in the voting rounds (19)
  • That player 20 be the player with the highest votes from an already represented team
  • That no overseas players be considered for voting
  • Each round compares the stats of each players and provides a history of their career

*The highest vote-getters would receive a bye through to the next round of voting under a 20 player bracket

We are sure that some big multi-national conglomerate would sponsor such a competition and that prizes would drive even more participation in this virtual showcase.

It’s a win-win. We #GrowTheGame of soccer, get more interaction with the grassroots, more exposure for clubs and players and EA Sports will see more FIFA ‘13/’14 copies sold.

This should be a concept that is explored by EA Sports and ultimately encouraged by U.S. Soccer and the MLS to increase exposure for not only the game but for our local talent both current and future stars.

Simple, no? What do you think?

#GrowTheGame Conversation Continues With Forum Between Youth Soccer Clubs And Pro Teams From San Diego

It has been a month since the inaugural #GrowTheGame weekend and already we are seeing the benefits of this event with a spin-off forum being organized by SoccerNation.com to be hosted tomorrow at 8pm PST.

The ‘Future of San Diego Soccer’ Forum held at the San Diego Hall of Champions was the catalyst for clubs from across the city to come together under one roof and discuss how to create a stronger future for the game.

The meeting will see the Presidents of the Presidio Soccer League come together with representatives of the NPSL, WPSL and PASL to discuss how the semi-pro teams of San Diego can work together with the cities competitive youth soccer clubs to help get more fans to games.

The topic for the forum was the product of similar conversations at the #GrowTheGame Forum and built on the consensus that soccer in San Diego will benefit from new partnerships between the junior and senior clubs.

The Presidio Soccer League is San Diego’s Premier Competitive Youth Soccer Gaming League, serving the Southern California area. They are a member run organization and currently serve over 50 youth soccer leagues and approximately 18,000 players.

When:                         Tuesday May 15 @ 8 PM PST

Where:                        Del Mar Marriott

The panelists for the forum are a great cross section of the San Diego Soccer Community including coaches, former international players, commentators and journalists and include;

Warren Barton – Current San Diego Flash Head Coach, Fox Soccer Analyst and a former England International and Newcastle United defender.

Joe Tutino – Joe is the Marketing Director of the San Diego Sockers and for many years has been the radio voice of the L.A. Galaxy.

Diane Scavuzzo – Diane is the Editor in Chief of Soccer Nation (www.soccernation.com), Southern California’s leading news source for all things soccer and will act as the moderator for the event.

The panelists will be on hand to provide their unique insights on the subject matter through their knowledge and experience of the game and will no doubt provide clubs with ideas they can take back and implement in their clubs and communities.           

Can’t make it to the forum or live outside of San Diego? No problem. Part of the #GrowTheGame philosophy is that if you have ideas to share on the future of the game then we still want to hear them!

Follow the conversation online and in real time. You can ask questions of the panel and make comments through Twitter during the forum by using the hashtag #SDSoccerForum or by email feedback@growthegame.us

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

Yesterday we were excited to have the opportunity post #GrowTheGame weekend to indulge in some of the open and genuine conversations that happen daily online. Logging on to #WPSChat which happens every Monday evening at 5pm PST we looked forward to what was no doubt going to be a passionate debate about the state of women’s soccer and most importantly discussion on the inevitable end of the WPS.

What transpired over the next hour or so was a robust discussion (choosing our words wisely here) in what can be only described as realists vs. optimists.

This discussion highlighted all that is wrong in the game here in the U.S. with everyone being experts on how to create a sustainable future for the elite level of the women’s game yet no-one accepting the merits of each idea.

Costs are undeniably the biggest growth driver for anything and everything including the sport. Ticket sales provide the lion’s share of this and encouraging fans to attend games is number one on every clubs list. Agreed? But in this post GFC environment we need to look out of the box to find new revenue streams like crowd funding, place a greater importance on community outreach and foster new collaborations and partnerships locally to share resources (up to a point) instead of compete against each other in what is a saturated sports market.

In terms of the future of the WPS it was widely accepted that it won’t be back in its current form and that focus will inevitably shift to the WPSL and W-League. So how about we use this time to create a plan for the future not simply to pass the baton onto the leagues that are currently in existence and watch them compete for supremacy. It is obvious two ‘elite’ leagues is totally unsustainable and will compromise the quality and pathways of our future talent.

Our suggestion (and it’s only a suggestion!) is that U.S. Soccer step in to set-up a new competition which invites already established clubs to compete rather than offer franchises for new and current clubs. The business model needs to be altered to focus on playing outcomes rather than making it profitable (there are too many questions regarding demand at present) and protect the integrity of the sport’s biggest asset, the USWNT.

There could then be a second tier with a Western and Eastern Conference where a number of clubs can be promoted and promising talent can get pro experience etc that will be a welcome transition for players when they graduate from college rather than giving up on their careers if they fail to be drafted to a pro club.

It’s time to draft a blueprint for the women’s game rather than arguing why we don’t currently have one. Growing the women’s game will take time and patience but building these foundations is the only way to create a sustainable product in the future.

Reflecting back on yesterday we are happy to say we are soccer optimists and that if you don’t keep challenging the directions of the sport then you are accepting the status quo. It is obvious that the status quo is not good enough given the premier competition of the women’s competition ceased operations. Argue all you want on why this happened – funding, one bad franchise owner, the administrators of the league – but understand something needs to change and that the sports number one consumers fans & players should be encouraged to have their say.

With that in mind it was interesting to see what happened when a positive proposal was suggested by someone during the #WPSChat. The proposal came in the form of live streaming and was mentioned that it could/should be offered for free to showcase women’s soccer. This suggestion was swiftly critisized through arguments of costs (again) to produce and then issues of quality.

Our argument here is that why should we criticize innovative clubs at the behest of those that ‘know best’? Quality improves once the step forward has been made to implement it.

We can speak from experience here. Soccer Support are in the process of producing a reality TV show to showcase local talent and one of our local pro team’s here in San Diego. What was our budget? Zero. What has been the end result? A great promotional vehicle that will get exposure for the sport, the club and the players.

Watch our video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMR5cKz5Z3I

Our advice to clubs and supporters is if you feel strongly enough about an idea and you have the capabilities of making it work then just go out and do it. If it works make sure you come back to everyone and show them how it worked and offer them your methodology for free.

We all benefit from a strong tier 1 association so let’s not find ways to impede its development and embrace ways that we can assist in its growth.

Soccer Support Announces New 2012/13 Membership Options

Soccer Support is happy to announce its range of membership options which are aimed at providing clubs with the support, advice and assistance to grow while providing these great services at the most affordable price.

INTRODUCTION

Soccer Support offers attractive membership packages to grassroots clubs across the country with a primary focus on modernizing clubs for the 21st century.

By working directly with its members, Soccer Support helps create new revenue streams, an increased exposure to sponsors and players, sustainability measures and most importantly future planning, in what is a saturated and extremely competitive market.

Soccer Support acts as the following;

• Sponsorship Brokers;

• Soccer Lobbyists;

• Grant Writers;

• Club Consultants; and

• Marketing Specialists

Soccer Support has three levels of membership available to clubs as well as individual options.

FUNDING OPTIONS FOR GRASSROOTS CLUBS

Sponsorship Brokers

One of the most challenging tasks for any club is sourcing sponsorship dollars to cover/subsidize ongoing costs.

Most clubs rely on personal networks to attract sponsors or send letters/emails to major corporations in the hope they might get a call back. This is a rare occurrence and the amount of time invested into attracting sponsors normally yields far below expectations.

Soccer Support believes that soccer benefits more if 10 clubs receive $1000 each from a $10,000 sponsorship deal rather than one club receiving $10,000. With this at the forefront of our thinking Soccer Support acts as a sponsorship broker for all of our members with any sponsorships we secure being evenly distributed amongst clubs.

We follow the 60-30-10 rule where tier 1 members receive 60% of all sponsorships, tier 2 members receive income from the tier 1 dollar amount PLUS income from the next 30% pool.

For example if we secured a $10,000 sponsorship – $6000 would go to tier 1 members, $3000 to tier 2 members, with the remaining 10% remaining with Soccer Support to help fund other grassroots soccer programs and help grow the game across the country.

If there were 20 tier 1 members each club would receive $300 ($6000/20). If 5 of these 20 clubs were also tier 2 members they would receive $900 ($300 from tier 1 PLUS $600 from tier 2).

Given memberships for tier 1 are $500 and tier 2 are $1000, clubs have nearly recouped all of their outlay and received all of the other terrific benefits outlined in this brochure.

A collective of clubs is a far more attractive proposition for sponsors and will increase your clubs ability to obtain funding or in-kind donations.

Sponsorship from larger organizations also gives credibility to your club which leads to more players and more support.

Support takes all the pressure off club boards to land the ‘big fish’ leaving you to concentrate on the day to day running of your club. For more information on our Sponsorship Brokerage please email info@soccersupport.us

Grant Writing Service

One of the most under-utilized funding streams is that of grants funding. This is due to a combination of reasons including time, future planning and an understanding of the application process.

Soccer Support can help your club apply for grants should they be eligible. We take care of your application which includes consulting, formulating workable solutions and delivering on your clubs goals and objectives. We draft an evaluation plan, prepare documents for you to submit, proof read and follow-up.

We have experience writing successful grant proposals from small equipment requests through to comprehensive soccer programs that play an important role in player and community development.

AN INDEPENDENT NATIONAL VOICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER

Soccer Support develops and advocates policies on behalf of our members and stakeholders, with the aim of making a positive difference for our members, our communities and our sport with respect to sporting infrastructure, health initiatives, funding streams and the current needs of sports number one consumer – the grassroots of the game.

Through ongoing activities and our State of Soccer Report, Soccer Support acts as the largest Independent voice of grassroots soccer giving players, fans, coaches and administrators a chance to outline ways, in which the sport can continue to innovate, improve and grow to reach its potential here in the U.S.

Advocacy

Advocacy is one of the most important intangible services Soccer Support contributes to the grassroots of the game.

Soccer Support, as the collective voice of grassroots soccer, formulates recommendations for the game in consultation with the soccer community to help ‘Grow The Game’. Soccer Support focuses on issues such as investment in the grassroots of the sport, soccer infrastructure and coaching and refereeing best practice to name but a few. To put it simply, it’s about having a conversation about the sport, making our views known to U.S. Soccer and FIFA, while unlocking the doors to investment and growth.

Soccer Support prides itself on being the grassroots ‘go-to’ group for providing a balanced and honest account of where the game currently is, and advocating for positive change at every opportunity.

Another significant part of our advocacy efforts is to educate our members about key changes to the sport and funding streams through programs that may include webinars, trade fairs, publications, group presentations, and other online avenues.

Lobbying Activities

Many grassroots clubs and leagues are restricted in their growth due to a lack of sporting infrastructure amongst the other things outlined above. Soccer Support, through its membership, liaises with soccer administrators, government, business and the community to create awareness of the needs of the soccer community and deliver strong tangible outcomes for the sport. These lobbying activities help progress our advocacy agenda.

PLANNING FOR FUTURE GROWTH

Club Appraisals & Business Plans

Running a soccer club is a difficult task and many of us find ourselves working in key administrative positions on a volunteer capacity with no previous club management experience.

Soccer Support understands this and shares best practice through its club appraisals options. We provide advice on 9 key areas which impact the day to day operations of a club including;

Structure, Policy & Finances, Administration, Marketing, Fundraising, Players, Demographics, Community and Future Planning.

We also draft policy procedures to help guide the club in its decision making.

Through our comprehensive review of your club, Soccer Support quickly identifies what you are doing right and provides objective advice on how you can create new key efficiencies and continue to grow.

Soccer Support will then provide its findings and recommendations to the board and will be available to assist with their implementation if required.

Marketing

Soccer Support provides marketing opportunities for clubs to advance their events or objectives. With experience in event management, media and coordinating national campaigns, Soccer Support has the expertise to maximize outcomes for your organization.

As a member, clubs will receive up to 2 event plans depending on their tier and up to 2 design templates to support an upcoming event.

Members also will receive discounted options on the full packages we can offer including the planning and execution of your marketing strategy (including event management, PR, access to our videographers etc). To get a quote on you immediate marketing needs or for a future campaign/event please contact info@soccersupport.us

Other Membership Benefits

On top of the key benefits to your club outlined throughout this brochure, members of Soccer Support will also have access to the following;

Speakers Bank – Looking for a key speaker at your next event? Our Soccer Support Ambassadors will provide inspiration and advice for club members with a grassroots edge.

Webinars – As part of our commitment to educating and sharing best practice with our members we host 4 informative webinars per year on key topics to facilitate debate and foster tangible outcomes for the sport.

E-Library – We scour the web to find all the latest coaching manuals, trends and all things soccer related to help skill up your clubs volunteers, coaches and administrators.

Grassroots Directory – Your club will be listed in our grassroots directory which is intended to provide potential sponsors, players and like-minded clubs the opportunity to connect and network with your organization.

Club Discounts – Soccer Support members can take advantage of exclusive offers through our network of partners. Members will also receive discounts to all future Soccer Support events.

MEMBERSHIP LEVELS

AFFILIATE: Affiliate members receive a social media appraisal, marketing options equivalent to a tier 1 level, access to our lobbying, advocacy and other services such as the directory, discounts and speakers bank.

COST: $100

TIER 1 – Grassroots: Tier 1 members receive all membership options but are capped at tier 1 for the sponsorship brokerage   package, the tier 1 marketing option (1 plan & 1 design template) and a free grants proposal up to $2500.

COST: $500

TIER 2 – Pro: Tier 2 members receive the full suite of membership options.

COST: $1000

As you can see, the sponsorship levels have the potential to pay for themselves. Should Soccer Support be unsuccessful for whatever reason in being unable to secure a sponsorship in the calendar year of your membership, your club will be refunded the difference between your tier and an affiliate membership (minus an administration fee and for services rendered that do not accompany an affiliate membership). To apply for membership with Soccer Support please email info@soccersupport.us

#GrowTheGame Review – 500 People Contribute To A Major Shift In The Approach We Should Take When Planning The Growth Of U.S. Soccer

The pilot for the #GrowTheGame project which was tasked with increasing exposure and participation in San Diego soccer has been an overwhelming success, with over 500 people getting involved with events held across various San Diego locations this past weekend.

#GrowTheGame is a national project that aims to bring people together to promote grassroots soccer. Through the #GrowTheGame movement, Soccer Support provides fun and simple ways to empower soccer fans to celebrate the game they love. A coordinated approach can help raise the awareness of soccer to the popular levels of other sports in the U.S.

Four major events were hosted by Soccer Support across two days including the Soccer Star – San Diego try outs, the NPSL cross-city clash between the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca, the Future Of San Diego Soccer Forum and the establishment of the events legacy project – a new Street Soccer USA program based here in San Diego (The beach pick-up soccer game had to be postponed due to high winds).

Soccer Star – San Diego

San Diego’s most promising youngsters between 18 & 23 came to the SSSD try-outs at Del Norte High School for this new online reality TV show in the hope they might be the next player to pull on the black and yellow of the San Diego Flash Soccer Club.

Under the watchful eye of Flash Head Coach and Fox Soccer Analyst, Warren Barton, the players took part in a 2 hour long session to determine who would make the final 14 players.

With these finalists now selected the competition moves towards a series of matches, challenges and education sessions to determine who Coach Barton will pick to be San Diego’s next Soccer Star. The winner will be announced during the Flash vs Phoenix Monsoon home game on June 23.

Watch this space for our new promo video which will be released shortly.

San Diego NPSL Showcase

One thing is certain when the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca FC meet, the game will be intense and exciting. The latest meeting between the two teams lived up to its billing, as the San Diego Derby ended in a 2-2 draw at Del Norte High School.

As fans shivered in the stands while cold winds carried the last of a storm east away from San Diego, the play on the pitch heated up as it tends to do when San Diego’s National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) teams go head-to-head.

Read the full review courtesy of SoccerNation here

Future of San Diego Soccer Forum

A passionate group of San Diego soccer lovers gathered at the San Diego Hall of Champions on Sunday, April 15, for the first #GrowTheGame San Diego Soccer Forum.

The gathering was a cross-section of local soccer, including panelists Joe Tutino of the San Diego Sockers and the radio voice of LA Galaxy and Diane Scavuzzo, Editor in Chief of SoccerNation.

Read the full review courtesy of SoccerNation here

#GrowTheGame Legacy Project – Street Soccer USA

The historic first meeting of prospective advisory panel members took place in the San Diego Sports Commission Boardroom and saw a cross-section of both the soccer and homeless outreach sectors come together to map out a timeframe of establishing the national program here in San Diego.

A number of significant targets in the development of the program were set with the aim of identifying potential players, supporters and funding streams to get the ball rolling.

With the goal of having a presence in NYC for the US Cup in July, finding a venue for training and funding the equipment to enable participation there is a busy couple of months ahead.

We look forward to keeping you notified of major announcements.

In summarizing the #GrowTheGame weekend it was acknowledged by participants that this was a small step forward in placing the future of the sport squarely in the hands of fans rather than administrators. Given soccer’s number one consumer is that of its fans and players. If we want the sport to grow to the levels of the other ‘big four’ sports in this country, then it’s time to take a coordinated approach to growth from the bottom up. The most pleasing aspect of the weekend was that every #GrowTheGame event was organized with no financial outlay and a small team of passionate soccer fans. It goes to show that passion and drive are the most precious commodities grassroots movements have.

The next step for #GrowTheGame is to now make sure those that were involved in the weekend’s events keep connected to each other. It is important that an ongoing conversation occur between the local soccer community so that it can drive tangible outcomes for the sport across the city.

Other cities have already shown interest in hosting their own #GrowTheGame activities and together with our ongoing projects with Soccer Support, the future looks bright for what is intended to be a new phase of grassroots driven growth for soccer in the U.S.

For more information on #GrowTheGame or to nominate a city for the next event please contact info@growthegame.us