What a soccer club is in the rest of the world (part 1)
A few weeks ago, with great pleasure, I received this email. I'll start from this for my weekly point of view.
It was only yesterday I was thinking of you while waiting for my players to arrive on time for our game. I thought also how we have a good field with lights to train during the week & so many have excuses not to participate. Why can't everyone appreciate the privilege to be able to be a part of a winning team & to work hard and sacrifice in order to achieve high goals?
Obviously you made an impression on me during our brief association - I think it is your sincere passion and spirit for the game and that you think like a winner. That takes character and most do not have much!
I wish you much success in your venture!
I really miss you, Peter, because you are like me. Our soccer roots are from another soccer reality, another planet. Obviously, having the right attitude and thinking as a winner is important, but there are other things connected with American society that are deeply different from European society. We come from there and the roots of a soccer club, the reasons for it's existence, are deeply different too.
To better know and understand what a soccer club is in Europe might be useful for improving soccer in the U.S.
In 99% of the cases, a group of parents who's children like to play soccer (more often it's the parents that want them to) create a soccer club. Generally, when the players reach 14, the club disappears because the players spread out into high schools or into other clubs, which disappear in their turn when the players leave to go to college!
So, teams are constantly born and disappear, and there's always a new beginning. They never BECOME soccer clubs.
What happens in Europe?
A long time ago, different groups of soccer lovers, INDEPENDENTLY of the fact that their sons or daughters played on the teams, decided to put a little money together every year, to create and sustain a soccer club. If you do this year after year for 10 years, it's clear that, try-out after try-out, there will be 10 teams in the club, because the players grow and pass to the next level, while the new generations fill the holes at the lower levels. So the first U6's, after 10 years, become the U16's having passed through the U7, U8, etc., etc. The try-outs each year fill the holes in every level if any players leave the club.
A Club is ALWAYS the expression of the territory or the county that it represents. If a team doesn't 'represent' someone it's nothing. If supporters and fans don't feel that they are represented by a team, the team is nothing. So, the name, instead of being Warriors, Oysters, Raccoons, Sea Horses, etc., would have deep roots in the territory if the names were Inverness, Sausolito, San Rafael, Burlingame, Palo Alto and so on. This way, generation after generation, the dream of every young player would be to play on the team where his or her father or mother excelled, because they write the pages of soccer history for that community.
As I said, a group of soccer lovers are the life of the club. Founder $1,000, Members $500 and so on down to, Sympathizers $50. Obviously, donations of any amount are welcome. All the founders cover positions that allow the team to exist. (President, Vice President, General Manager, Treasurer, etc.) plus volunteers who take care of travel, transportation, soccer equipment, booking fields and so on.
The Club has a HOME in which all the trophies (real trophies!) and pictures of the teams and the players of the past will be collected . A place in which the teams celebrate their victories and come together after their defeats to find new energy and effort for the future games and tournaments. It doesn't have to be a 'castle'. It could be a restaurant or a pub or a gym.
Sooner or later, this organization, would be able to have it's own field where the teams of the Club practice and play. It's not a dream that, like in the rest of the world, spectators PAY FOR A TICKET TO WATCH A GAME. It's in this way that the Club can raise other money to sustain themselves. Please, force yourself to understand this concept. One thing is a bunch of kids sustained by the parents and it's another to represent a little town with 10/15 teams that cover all ages and play against other little towns. This way, it's obvious that very soon, sponsors from the town will invest money in the Club. It's not a dream that through this mechanism a semi-professional Club and later a professional one, could be born. All the professional Clubs in the World were born that way. In this country, step after step, in 20 years a club could reach the MLS. Believe me, it could happen.
This Club with 10/15 teams, could produce merchandising for the fans (shirts, hats, scarves, flags, pins, etc.) that 'reinforce' its bank account.
The big professional clubs, with time, would begin to sustain this local Club, making agreements to enroll the best players every year. This, and only this, makes the right connection between amateur soccer and professional soccer. Not the universities where a player is 19-20 years old. Their possible professional career is gone! A really good soccer player has to play at the highest PROFESSIONAL level when he's 17/18 even going out of the U.S., otherwise it will be too late. It's simply ridiculous that potential 18/20 years old superstars, still plays in front of parents and friends at colleges or universities, instead of making millions playing for Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, A.C. Milan, Juventus, Liverpool and so on. Through this mechanism a young player can realize his dream of becoming the next Beckham, otherwise, at 14, maybe he'll give up soccer. What a waste for him, his family and his community.
I'll come back to this topic in the future, underlining other aspects. In the mean time, anyone who's interested can count on my check of $100 a month to create a team that can beat, at any age, any other teams in California.
Want to create the 'California Stars'? I'm ready. Are You?
And when I talk about California stars, I'm not talking about young soccer stars. I'm talking about the stars in the beautiful black sky of the California deserts.
Posted on 31 Oct 2005 by coachgianni