I consider myself pretty lucky. I am a huge soccer fan – I have been since I was a kid – and now I work for the U.S. Soccer Foundation. But while my work is focused on soccer, it’s not always fun and games; this job requires a lot of long hours and hard work. In the midst of a hectic travel schedule and the everyday office grind, it can be easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal.
But when I experience something like the Foundation’s recent National Coaches Training (NCT), I come away reinvigorated and excited to pursue my role here. At the 2014 NCT, we talked a lot about growing the game where it least exists, which often means in urban communities where space is at a premium and coaching and playing occur in non-traditional and less-than-perfect circumstances. The feedback I hear from new and experienced coaches and players alike is that facilities are hard to come by and that a small, intimate, soccer-specific space is the perfect forum for youth to participate, grow, and fall in love with the game. The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Mini Pitch Initiative is set up to enhance, assist, and grow the beautiful game in places it has traditionally struggled. Whether you want to call it a soccer court, a mini pitch, futsal, or 5-aside, we are all speaking the same language – creating safe places to play the game in a soccer-specific venue.
After a World Cup where American attention on the game reached new heights and youth and adults everywhere are looking for safe places to play this game, the Foundation has a program to help your community achieve a soccer-specific space it can own and be proud of – and that truly excites me. Find me at email@example.com or on Skype at jimhannesschlager and we can chat about your Mini Pitch plans!