Editor’s Note: On Dec. 18, US Club Soccer announced the first-ever class of Players First-licensed clubs, which featured 46 clubs from 19 states. In the weeks to follow, those clubs will be highlighted with Q&As from their directors.
Question: Why did ISC Gunners FC apply for Players First licensing?
Eddie Henderson, Technical Director of ISC Gunners FC: At ISC Gunners, we pride ourselves on being a community-based, family-oriented club, whose main purpose is to develop players, not just on the field but off the field. A long-term goal of ISC Gunners is to provide every player in the club an opportunity to attend college, whether playing college soccer or not. We recognize that through our coaching development, the life lessons gained on the field can and will carry over to their off the field goals and give these players the best chance for a successful and positive college experience, and thus life experience. We realize there is life after soccer, which will be the biggest game these kids will ever play in and it’s important that they are prepared. We feel our philosophy and beliefs as a club put us right in with the Players First philosophy.
Question: What does it mean for ISC Gunners FC to now be an official Players First-licensed club?
Henderson: First and foremost, it allows us to put our money where our mouth is. It is important to practice what you preach. We don’t just want to tote, “we are all about the kids,” we want to show it. Being an official Players First-licensed club shows the seriousness of our commitment to be just that: Players First. Second, it now allows us the ability to align ourselves with a platform that will help us to continue to put players first.
Question: What makes Players First licensing different from other initiatives or programs your club has participated in?
Henderson: One of the main differences is that Players First provides lots of different resources for us to not only help our players but to also help our parents and coaches as well, which helps us stay in line with putting Players First. Sometimes they say it takes a village to raise a child, and we believe that to achieve full development with our players, it takes not just the coach, but everyone involved with the organization, including other coaches, the parents and the players.
Question: What would you like the parents of ISC Gunners FC to know about what this means to them?
Henderson: What it means to our ISC Gunner parents is that we want them to know that we are a full-service club, and as a club, we are 100 percent vested into our players to give them the best possible experience to help them develop as a soccer player and as a person, and that our commitment to each player is long-term, no matter their level of play.
A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.
Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.
US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike and supported by LaLiga through a technical partnership.