Written by Alan Bahadori, Owner/Executive Director of Lowcountry United
There’s never a dull moment in soccer. There are tons of exciting things going on for anyone to enjoy, just off the top of my head I can name tons of pictures, articles, tweets, blogs, matches, interviews, & announcements that blanket the soccer community each and every day.
There are so many. For instance, American Soccer United’s opinion polls & challenges such as (the recent Might Pen Tournament or the desirable Supporter’s Sword Tournament) and the fantastic journey of Steve Bernasconi on The Soccer Tour (we all are so jealous of you just FYI). how about the NASL Expansion news out of California? Or the wonderful fan submissions to Soccer ‘n’ Sweet Tea on the Charlotte MLS Bid. Who could forget about the wonderful beauty that was Christos FC’s Open Cup run this year? The enjoyable excitement of seeing NPSL expansion club Asheville City SC shatter attendance expectations. The USASA National finals. New expansion clubs emerging along with the fantastic sights out of the Florida soccer community with bringing fan owned clubs like Himmarshee FC or Gold Coast Inter FC into existence!
It’s truly exciting to see all these things happening everyday now isn’t it!?
You’re probably asking yourself though; “What does all this have to do with anything?” It’s simple…It’s all about building unity and progressing a vision!
One thing that I know is Lowcountry United. I have continued to ensure that we provide a club that is open with everyone regarding our experiences and what steps we took and you can take to building a soccer club.
First step is you have to know your vision. Why do you exist? Lowcountry United, for example, is a grassroots club that exists to bridge the gap for players by providing opportunities between college and professional soccer. I felt that our current system here in the Charleston, South Carolina area was closed off and had a huge hole in the overall system. We have a dominate youth academy market with several powerhouses of clubs that have done so much for youth development such as USA (United Soccer Academy), Daniel Island Youth Academy, JIYSA, SSC and even GPS Carolina. We have numerous high school varsity teams like the championship winning Wando High School, even our local top class College of Charleston soccer team. At the top of the hierarchy is our USL pro representation from the lads over at the Charleston Battery.
However, while well established in the community there was very little connection, affiliation or collaboration amongst a majority of our representation. Where are our semi-pro clubs? Where is the pro-development that provides the competitive opportunity to allow players to reach the next level? Where are our local pro-development clubs that connect with the youth clubs, the indoor futsal teams and provide a path for the talented up and coming players?
All of this is the gap that exists in our community and possibly yours as well. This is where Lowcountry United came in. We were founded to fill that gap, be the link in the chain between high school/college soccer and the professional level. The closed system of business, this way of doing things, is the exact reason why Lowcountry United exists. We have to build a club that recognizes and can fix the flaws of our current status quo that promotes a vision of unity and collaboration.
Our vision is more than just about soccer though, this club is built to be focused on our local community. Soccer clubs have a fantastic opportunity to really provide reinvestment into their local communities. Our commitment to our community is to ensure that we reinvest this club into local businesses, schools, youth clubs, charities etc. all in order to ultimately build #UnityThruSoccer.
These two steps are the most important ones in my opinion: you have to know your vision and what you want to accomplish, and know your plan to benefit your community.
Lowcountry United is just one club in the huge pool of lower league clubs that share in a truly grassroots club philosophy. No matter your league choice, the state you’re in, the following you have, what resources are available to you; none of that matters. All that comes with time and progression.
What matters is showing and building a connection with your community. Show them the value of what your club can provide. Ensure that you are not just playing soccer. Ensure that you are providing a true soccer club for the community.
In the long run you will see that it takes time to build something that people can value and people can support, but that investment into planting deep roots into your community will go so much further than just providing a 90 minute match on any given Saturday night. Put in the work, learn from other clubs, seek out the partnerships, bring together the local youth clubs and colleges, sponsor a youth team, put on charity fundraisers, volunteer in the community etc. It all returns to the same vision of building #UnityThruSoccer.
While you are working towards connecting with your local area don’t forget to reach out to the larger soccer community. Networking is probably the next big step you should venture
into. Connect with soccer blog writers, podcast radio shows, journalists, local newspaper companies etc. These outlets are made for helping clubs share their vision and information, you get the chance to connect with a lot of good people who can help you in more ways than you could imagine. We have been fortunate to be able to connect with these kinds of outlets to share our story with wider audiences due to the great people like our friends over at Soccer Down Here, The Midfield Press, Soccer & Sweet Tea, Dirty South Soccer blog, The Black & Yellow Post, American Pyramid Blog and so many others.
When I started this club I had no idea that there could be such opportunity to unite with people who shared my vision, shared my desire to change to the current status quo, my overall desire to unite the community versus divide it. Allow these outlets to help you grow.
This is just the beginning of your club. Take the time to examine what your vision is and how you plan to execute the vision. Connecting with your community and spreading the vision with others is the foundation that begins you on a successful path. Jersey colors, players, field locations, social media following…all that extra comes in time. Stay focused on what you’re trying to create and how you plan to accomplish it. Build a club instead of building a team and through this focus you will truly build #UnityThruSoccer.