By Terry Fisher, CEO
July 4th while watching the Kirkland parade winding through town, two young men were behind my wife and myself watching from the outdoor restaurant seating, talking about soccer. They discussed the Euro 2012 final and the upcoming Seattle Sounders game that night against Real Salt Lake. They really enjoyed the entertainment of these events and exuded lots of knowledge and passion. They were FANS!
I was wearing a Washington Youth Soccer hat and polo shirt and they engaged me in their chat. As it turns out—one had played Washington Youth Soccer through his childhood, participated in the Olympic Development Program, played in college, coached a successful youth team without pay until 2002, played adult soccer and now has young children that will be joining the program soon. He has season tickets to the Seattle Sounders FC and loves it!
The other fellow never played soccer, goes to every Sounders game he can and has become an ardent English Premier League follower. He played baseball and basketball as a high school kid. This soccer craze had caught his attention big time, and his kids are looking to start playing soccer. He is a convert to the game.
They had opinions on the champion Spaniards – how do they do what they do? How do you beat them – I told them the USA did so a few years ago in a huge upset in Africa. Today – perhaps not.
They had opinions on the international friendlies played by the Sounders i.e. Barca, Celtic, Manchester United and upcoming Chelsea. They noted how cool it was to play them in front of sellout crowds and what that said about Seattle as Soccer City USA. They had opinions on every Sounders player and coach Sigi Schmid. One asked when we would play at the level of the EPL – one hundred years was suggested as a timeline. We all laughed about what good fans we were and the pride we had in the Sounders’ success. We acknowledged the role that everyone for the past 46 years has played in getting us to this point – it is not an accident.
The point is that these two guys represent the young professionals that are the heart and soul of Washington Youth Soccer. I encouraged them to reach out and coach/manage a team together and re-engage. The soccer veteran teaching the new convert and having some fun! These people are the future of the game in America. From my point of view – we are in good hands. Go Sounders!