Soccer’s status as “the world’s game” has never been more apparent.
In January of 2016, Japanese icon and A.C. Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda gave an interview to Fox Sports in which he explained the reasoning behind the skills camp for youth soccer players he had just hosted at the Los Angeles Galaxy’s training facility in the StubHub Center.
While Honda’s interest in the United States also includes a willingness to play in Major League Soccer, his first foray into the game in the U.S. is on the business side of soccer. Among the many reasons Honda listed for being interested in American soccer was the high upside of the country’s player pool, and his belief that with the proper training, the talent in the United States can realize its potential.
“Why do I want to educate kids in the United States? Well, I believe the kids in the United States have a lot of potential, talent-wise,” Honda said. “I wasn’t talented when I was young. I had huge dreams to play for AC Milan and for big clubs in the world when I was young. I believe that most children can reach their goals if they train with our philosophy, with our training programs.” – Keisuke Honda
Honda went on to describe his desire to give back to the game through the company he founded in Japan, HONDA ESTILO Co. Ltd. The company manages athletes, operates youth soccer programs, and owns a professional soccer team in Austria as well as more than 60 soccer schools throughout Japan, Austria, China and Cambodia. As part of Honda’s larger strategy, the HONDA ESTILO company has established offices in San Diego, California to headquarter their operations in the United States.
HONDA ESTILO USA, a subsidiary of the parent HONDA ESTILO Co Ltd. is launching “SOLTILO FC Los Angeles” on Sunday, January 1st 2017. SOLTILO FC Los Angeles is Keisuke Honda’s first soccer program in the United States, and has reached a licensing agreement with San Bernardino Soccer Complex, a 47-acre facility with 17 FIFA regulation sized soccer fields, managed by the Elmore Sports Group, a company owned by Dave Elmore, long time sports business veteran and owner of six minor league baseball teams, two soccer teams, and one hockey team.
We are honored to be given the opportunity to join a great football family. Having collaborated with SOLTILO FC Los Angeles, it provides greater support and resources to our young players, staff and local families. Our coaches will be guided by the development and technical programming implemented by Honda himself, which it will help our young players to grow and provide an additional opportunity for them to be better people and perhaps become a professional soccer player among at our own NPSL club, or one of our clubs within our network. – Daniel Gamba – San Bernardino Soccer Complex General Manager
Takeshi Nakanishi, CEO of HONDA ESTILO USA also provided insight as to how and why the partnership in San Bernardino came to be.
“We chose San Bernardino because it’s a great community that’s simply overlooked. There is immense talent in the area and the families here are hardworking and motivated. Our company focuses on providing opportunity and teaching the importance of having a dream around the world, and that’s what we plan to do here. We appreciate San Bernardino Soccer Complex for providing us with this opportunity and look forward to bring global events to the facility.”
Honda himself described his motivation for focusing on youth development best, “It is not to say that coaches from the top European or American clubs don’t prepare great training sessions, because they do, but the training is focused on winning the next game. The reason is simple. If they don’t win, they get fired or players leave. For these reasons, the training is not focused on the long term development of the individual player. What I want to do, what I believe is necessary, is to create a long-term program, ages 6 to 18, so they can have a successful career in college or thereafter. To state it differently, between ages 6 to 16, there is no reason to focus on winning games. I don’t care if we lose as long as the individual is developing. Every day, whether it’s Milan, Moscow, Holland, or with the Japanese national team, I am accumulating training ideas and when I think, We should do this type of training, it is immediately implemented at SOLTILO.”
The first step for SOLTILO FC Los Angeles will be holding tryouts at San Bernardino Soccer Complex on January 11th, 18th, and 25th in 2017. The teams will be made up of 9 age groups – from U6 to U14 and they will compete in the Coast Soccer League. Students will be taught using training methods developed by Keisuke Honda, which focus on the long term development of the individual so each player can be success at the college or professional level.
Crucially, students of SOLITLO also have a direct path to become a professional soccer player in Europe through SV Horn an Austrian second division professional soccer club, which is also directly owned by the HONDA ESTILO Co. Ltd. The relevance and importance of having a clear pathway to European professional soccer cannot be emphasized enough.
Keisuke Honda is keen on U.S. soccer after multiple visits over the years including soccer camps in both Los Angeles in December 2015 and San Diego in 2016. He has followed the development of MLS and the rise in popularity of soccer in the country. SOLTILO FC Los Angeles will aim to produce players who stand out in MLS and Europe by providing SOLTILO’s original training methodology in the best environment for children to develop their soccer skills.
Tryouts for SOLTILO FC Los Angeles:
Venue: San Bernardino Soccer Complex (Address: 2500 Pacific St, Highland, CA 92346)
Dates: January 11th, 18th, and 25th
Participants: Children ages 6 – 14 years old
Time: U6-10: 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. – Birth Years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 – U11-14: 7:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. – Birth Years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
For more information contact Minako Tanaka – email@example.com