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Keeping up with the inaugural Players First Summit

By US Club Soccer, 12/13/19, 10:00PM EST


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MIAMI LAKES, Fla. - (Dec. 13, 2019) - The inaugural Players First Summit kicked off Friday at Shula's hotel and Golf Club in Miami. The number of Players First licensed clubs has been growing ever since the introduction of the first class one year ago, leading up to this event, where the first 90 licensed clubs have the opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn from the Players First community of partners and licensed clubs. 


The summit began with an introduction from Kevin Payne on the origins and growth of Players First, before Positive Coaching Alliance's Jason Sacks interviewed U.S. Soccer legend Brian McBride for the first session. Brian spoke on his experience playing youth soccer and how it aided and shaped him in his journey to the pros and through life. Watch the full session from Positive Coaching Alliance and Brian McBride here

After Positive Coaching Alliance, Dan Mills Assistant Director of Training at SafeSport delivered an informative talk on SafeSport training, before our first panel of the summit. 

In the Player Health & Safety Panel, Holly Silvers of the 11+, Claudio Storelli of Storelli Sports, and Tyrre Burks of Players Health spoke on what their companies and Players First has done to increase Player Health & Safety in youth soccer. After the conversation, each panelist split up into separate conference rooms for a more intimate break session for questions and further details. 

After lunch, the attendees gathered for our second panel, "Technology to enhance soccer development," featuring Beast Mode Soccer Founder David Copeland-Smith, SportSessionPlanner Director Magnus Alford, and Chris Antoline, Director of TopYa!. One more breakout session followed this panel before the last lecture of the day,

Carlos Casal Senior Specialist in Sports Projects Development at LaLiga presented on implementing effective club methodology across multiple age groups and types of coaches. LaLiga followed this up with a live demonstration session on the field, featuring demo college players. 

To conclude day 1 of the summit, our keynote speaker Jessica Lahey, author of "The Gift of Failure," discussed the complicated journey of parenting and guiding young individuals on and off the field. 

After Lahey's speech, the attendees moved into the courtyard where Jessica chatted and signed copies of her book over drinks and Hors d'oeuvre. 

Saturday, December 14

The second and final day of the Players First Summit was a shorter one, as the day concluded at 12:30 to allow our attendees to begin their treks home. 

We began the day bright and early with a field session from David Copeland-Smith. The Beast Mode Soccer Founder demonstrated his individual training style with a Division 1 college player, during a beautiful Miami morning. 

After the field session, the summit returned to the conference room where Beyond Pulse kicked things off with an analysis on active participation during youth club training sessions. Beyond Pulse also announced that they will be giving every Players First licensed club a full set of complimentary Smart Belts. A generous effort to increase the collaborative learning and Club Development aspects that Players First licensing represents. 

Next, US Club Soccer Vice-President and ECNL President Christian Lavers delivered a powerful presentation on club management and leadership and coaching philosophy. The attendees were treated to  a unique and impactful  presentation that reflected the insight of an individual with as much leadership experience in the soccer world as Christian. 

After Christian, Tara Parker, Co-Founder of ScoutingZone changed the tone to speak on how to help teenage players improve the college recruitment and outreach process. Tara discussed how ScoutingZone was founded to address the overwhelming number of athletes who struggled to connect to college coaches, and their tools to help simplify the process. 

Next, LaLiga returned to the classroom for Felipe Vega-Arango Technical Director of the first LaLiga Academy in the U.S. and former head coach of the Salomon Islands National Team to present an analysis on the application of sports psychology in soccer. Felipe's vast depth of experience working with soccer players of all levels and demographics was thoroughly conveyed as he shared anecdotes and wisdom on developing self-motivation in players

Finally, Skye Eddy Bruce Founder of Soccer Parenting Association closed out our sessions with a comprehensive discussion on establishing a strong sense of club community to increase the retention and inspiration of both coaches and players. Skye's interactive session featured attending coaches sharing their strategies to connect with parents, and a plethora of tips on how to forge a cohesive, positive club environment with all who are involved. 

After Kevin Payne provided some parting words to sign-off, the attendees departed from Shula's Hotel and Golf Club with lunches, new connections, and new insight to share with their club. 


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.

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