The train just keeps on rolling. All aboard!
SoccerNation is spotlighting youth clubs from all over these United States of America. Powered by soccerloco, the SoccerNation Club Spotlight Series has already taken us all around Southern California and to some very special soccer spots across this great country. From the Hawaiian Islands to the Eastern Seaboard, we are on a mission to showcase the people and organizations helping to build the future of the beautiful game.
Next up, we head to the desert, the “Gateway to the Sonoran Desert” to be exact. We’re off to Scottsdale, Arizona, a city just outside of Phoenix that is right in the midst of a glorious upswing in the strength of its soccer community. We talked with Chris Brown, the Executive Director of Scottsdale Soccer. This two part SoccerNation Club Spotlight conversation is packed with authentic flavor.
Brown, an Englishman who has found a true home in the great wide opens of the American Southwest, spoke all about the budding soccer culture of Arizona, and how the history of Scottsdale Soccer has the organization on the pulse of all that’s going on in the area. Brown discussed what the addition of rebranded USL side Phoenix Rising has meant to the local soccer community, and shared his thoughts on the current state of American youth soccer.
Last but definitely not least, Brown showed love to some of his own personal footballing icons, a portion of the conversation with an unmistakable North London tone.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Chris, we left off talking about the biggest strengths of Scottsdale Soccer. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in running your club?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): I think the main challenges of the club revolve around being in the service industry and dealing with large numbers of people – from staff, to players, to parents – and delivering a message that sets expectations that people can attain and drive past. We pride ourselves on listening to our clients, and we act upon feedback.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): That’s an interesting way to look at things. Piggy backing off that, what would you say is the mission of Scottsdale Soccer?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): Our tagline is: “Character – Commitment – Confidence” – and those three words underpin our best practices.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): What are you most proud of in regards to your club?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): Our focus in the last three years has been to improve areas that we have felt were in the biggest need of improvement. Those areas were our outreach program and driving our elite players to the US Soccer National training pools and teams.
We have two current relationships, with Prescott Blackhawks and Phoenix Blackhawks, that provide the Blackhawks experience to children outside of the Scottsdale region, in Phoenix and in Prescott. This has created opportunities for hundreds of players.
We also recently had our very own Kennedy Chambers placed in the U-15 United States Women’s National Team pool which is a testament to her hard work, but also to the support and guidance of her parents and our coaching staff. We feel that we have a lot more players that can play at that level, and our hope is to continually highlight them and get them linked up with the various scouts and decision makers, so that we can truly showcase the proven developmental pathway we have at this club.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): How would you summarize your relationship with other clubs in your community, your region, and beyond?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): In short, I’d say we have a fantastic relationship with other clubs in our area and beyond. We work really hard to have these good relationships, and one of the reasons our tournament expanded so quickly is that we established fourteen partnerships with clubs both in the state of Arizona and from out of state, facilitating the sharing of teams in tournaments.
Through our network of coaches we have awesome global connections to clubs throughout the world. We regularly trade and share current trends and practice concepts with leading clubs across this country and from all around the soccer world.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): How would you assess the current state of youth soccer in America?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): I think soccer in the U.S. is at a very healthy state with more players playing than ever before, and with more clubs improving the experience for their players.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Do you think there is a 5 year plan in place for American club soccer?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): I think there are a lot of efforts from a lot of different organizations and platforms that are trying to do the best for players and player development. Only time will tell if these efforts produce better soccer players.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): What have been some of the best aspects of your club working with soccerloco?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): When we started looking for a process to analyze our club uniform manufacturer and our service provider, we entertained numerous groups and brands. John Lococo was incredibly insightful in our initial meetings with soccerloco, and he positioned Scottsdale Soccer as the leading Nike Premier Club in the state of Arizona. We quadrupled all aspects of the business at this time, and the benefits to date have been enormous. We place great value in our partners, and soccerloco has delivered in this area time and time again. Their efforts in customer support and delivering have been at the highest standard. John has placed a great team behind him which supports his drive and commitment to everything we do with Scottsdale Soccer.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Chris, who are some of your soccer idols? (Players, coaches, community members, all of the above…)
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): For better or for worse, I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan, and my idols growing up were Glenn Hoddle, and then Paul Gasgoine – both amazing talents.
I have an extensive background in Sports Science, and I also have huge admiration for leading industry experts such as Tony Strudwick – Performance Director at Manchester United – and Dave Reddin – Performance Director for the England National Team – both of whom I went to school and graduated with – and they are both insightful and influential with regards to the development and performance of players.
Nate Abaurrea (SoccerNation): Last question Chris. What do you love most about the game of soccer?
Chris Brown (Scottsdale Soccer): I feel very fortunate to be in an industry where I’ve received so much personal growth and enjoyment. Being English, I miss the day to day following of the teams, and the passion of a match-day. But right now with Scottsdale Soccer, we are incredibly fortunate to have a relationship with Phoenix Rising here in Arizona. Our relationship includes match-day experiences for our players which is so important for their growth.
(Where will we go next!? Stay tuned to SoccerNation.com for the next edition of our Club Spotlight Series, powered by soccerloco.)