Monday, January 19, 2009

The Other St. Louis Event - the '09 NSCAA Coaches Convention

A great deal has been written, on this site and others, regarding the draft this week, so here's a few notes on the other big St. Louis event that was taking place at the same time, the NSCAA Coaches Convention.

First off, if you are an avid soccer person (fan, volunteer, coach, etc.), it's highly recommend that you attend this annual event. The convention is obviously focused on coaches, but it is also a veritable Who’s Who of significant soccer stakeholders that creates a ripe environment for networking, celebrity-spotting, and idea generation.

The convention is made up of coaching education sessions, with on-field and/or video instruction provided by top-level coaches, classroom sessions on business and theoretical aspects of the game, and a large exhibit hall where all sorts of vendors ply their trade.

The exhibit hall is composed of companies that specialize in many different concepts, including web design, database management, apparel, tournaments and camps, player registration, synthetic turf, medical supplies, and awards. adidas had a great setup, with great new boots and some new cuts for the 2009 MLS uniforms.

I enjoyed learning some new tricks from the guys at ASG Florida, discussing technical player evaluation software concepts with Demosphere, got a cool C-Firm scarf from, and got rare advice on a competing product from the folks at Front Rush (very classy group).

The Rapids Academy had reserved a booth to market Arsenal’s upcoming US Soccer Schools, as well as field rentals at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and the programs of the Colorado Rapids Soccer Academy. Some of the most interesting contacts we made were actually Colorado locals, and I’m looking forward to developing better relationships with all of them.

Outside of the convention, St. Louis was shockingly cold, very friendly, and very quiet (5pm on a Friday and almost no one downtown). I highly recommend the Broadway Oyster Bar; great local food and drinks, lots of character, and again, not crowded at all for a Friday night.

Final thoughts: This was my second convention in my short career in the soccer industry, and I left with the feeling that the companies and stakeholders in the industry have become a lot more efficient and effective. The companies that are in it to make money are clearly being successful, and the non-profits and service-based organizations have clearer messages and seem to reflect similar ideals.

This bodes well for soccer in America. The American soccer community has many challenges in its future, but the challenges seem more defined, and the path to success has become clearer.
-Tom Patton,
Coordinator, Rapids Academy


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