Switchbacks Stadium/Cadet Soccer Stadium (Colorado Springs) — It might look like two more soccer games on the local calendar, but the Colorado Cup is much bigger than that. It’s a hometown player’s return from Germany with gifts for Colorado soccer fans (two exhibition games, coaches clinics, camps, and special appearances from Mainz 05).
Brought to you by Justin Rose and JJR Consulting GmbH, this event showcases the current sixth-place team in the Bundesliga. Mainz 05 will face Switchbacks FC at Switchbacks Stadium on July 12. On July 13, the German powerhouse will play Leones Negros from the Mexican second division at Cadet Soccer Stadium (United States Air Force Academy).
Rose played with Switchbacks assistant coach Wolde Harris at Clemson University following a stellar youth career in Colorado. In addition to earning Colorado Soccer Player of the Year and High School All-American honors, Rose played with the U.S. Olympic B Team and the U-20 USMNT. In 1994 and 1995, he won national championships with the Denver Kickers.
Although Rose suffered a career-ending injury, he continued to stay at the top of the game while cultivating special relationships in Germany. His vision of exposing Colorado fans to Bundesliga-level quality has been in the works for years, culminating with a full week of special events.
FSV Mainz 05 is known for developing youth. The depth of the club is so strong that the Mainz 05 reserve team plays in the third division, far higher than other Bundesliga teams. Rose arranged the Colorado Cup with youth development in mind. In addition to the showcase games, Mainz 05 coaches will conduct coaches clinics during the week, and another crew of coaches will run a five-day youth camp in Vail.
The Colorado Soccer Association is fielding youth all-star games for Tuesday and Wednesday night before the headliner games. The U-18 girls game will kick off at 5:00 on Tuesday at Switchbacks Stadium, and the boys will play at 5:00 on Wednesday at Cadet Stadium.
But any discussion of development needs to go deeper to show true growth. What about the kids who didn’t make the all-star roster? What about children who don’t have the resources to play at all? Rose sees beyond the “Starting 11” and bridges the gap between cultures and tax brackets. Through his foundation, Rose raises funds for teams and individuals, and he connects organizations with players and clubs in need.
Working with Leones Negros and Colorado organizers, Colorado Cup 2016 is funding 30 children to make the trip from Mexico to Colorado to learn from coaches and watch the top teams play. Meanwhile, other people are sponsoring individuals to attend the camps in Vail and Colorado Springs in addition to supporting the event. The end goal is simple: Expose Colorado soccer fans to high-level soccer from Germany and Mexico and showcase young, local talent.
Note: Photos by John Babiak. Video from Pat Shea. Since it’s uncool to steal video from other sites, here’s a link to recent Mainz 05 highlights on 05er.TV.