Travel kills U.S. soccer development because our nation is too huge, but my Current of Colorado video strategy addresses the issue. Hear me out, por favor. You can start your drive from Region I to Region II at sunrise, swing through Region III, and return home before sunset. But you’ll cover more than 4,000 miles to get from the eastern edge of Region IV to the western tip. Video is the only way to bring it all together for lower levels nationwide.
Players, teams, and officials who want to improve seek bigger ponds until they’re no longer the biggest fish. This requires travel, even in a talent-rich market. Youth options are limited and end early. College has its cycles, a red-shirt maximum of five years. MLS travel budgets stretch from academy level up for a handful of guys, oozing beyond the borders through Canadian teams and CONCACAF Champions League games. But for most U.S. soccer people, the bigger ponds are hard to reach.
Amateur teams coast to coast run deep into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup because they dig deep into their pockets to fund all the travel and meet other requirements. Until now, it has been the only route to professional recognition for groups like Harpo’s FC, La Maquina, LA Wolves, and other teams committed to make the collective jump from amateur to pro.
Thankfully, regional indoor and outdoor leagues like the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) and United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) are bridging the gap. Directly affiliated with the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), PASL players have a path to pro nationwide. Outdoor, the UPSL is an amateur league instituting promotion/relegation in 2017 with a plan to evolve into a complete pro-am structure. Running two seasons 10 months out of the year, UPSL includes teams in southern California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and two Idaho clubs as of December, 2016. Each conference stays home for games, and they converge for playoffs (and presumably all-star selection).
Similarly, the PASL Rocky Mountain Division includes five teams that play each other along the Front Range to see who qualifies for the national finals.
Wait a minute…. So PASL and UPSL games in Colorado are simply local games between top local teams until playoffs roll around? How do you compare quality between playoffs? What binds the league during the long stretches of local play?
Current of Colorado has the solution for both leagues (PASL and UPSL). Toss a Benjamin and a few presidential friends to local camera operators for every game in all regions. Share the video files with me after each game. I will mix in my footage to assemble league highlights once a week. A conglomeration of regional conferences becomes a growing national league on the Internet. Meanwhile, everyone gets to stay home.
The benefits go way beyond league marketing, coaching, officiating, and entertainment. Players in development need my video. It’s tedious work, but players with access to all their playing footage can create their own highlights while learning about themselves. Maybe they realize they’re good but not good enough. Maybe they create a three-minute movie that leads to paychecks from the field for another decade or more.
I’ve captured the amateur/professional level in Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and almost every state in Region IV. I have gigabytes of footage featuring players worth a look. I’m betting the farm that anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in soccer — particularly the mysterious sausage-making of U.S. soccer — would willingly watch snatches of action from different regions every week. With a travel cost of zero dollars, league organizers can connect everyone (and attract better players and refs who know they’ll receive film every week).
The players, teams, and officials who dream of ascending from amateur to pro are a constant membrane in every country’s soccer culture. The U.S. tier is flooded with men and women who need a place to play, and people in smaller markets are fishing between sofa cushions to fund situations. It’s not a grassroots fairy tale. It’s actually happening, and my video can help sustain the growth.