Editor’s Note: Every quarter, US Club Soccer announces the most recent class of Players First-licensed clubs. In the weeks to follow, the newest clubs will be highlighted with Q&As from their directors.
Question: Why did Livermore Fusion Soccer Club apply for Players First licensing?
Ben Graham, Executive Director of Livermore Fusion SC: We strongly believe in the Players First approach and ensure the learning environment is optimal for the players at Fusion SC. However, we do not think parents are aware of how important this approach is compared to a win-at-all-costs attitude, for example. Gaining the Players First license and promoting the motivation to apply for this award will hopefully change this mindset and keep players in the game longer, whether at Fusion or another Players First club.
Question: What does it mean for Livermore Fusion Soccer Club to now be an official Players First-licensed club?
Graham: For the leadership and coaching staff, it means a lot. It is another recognition of our hard work and dedication to our approach. However, this recognition is from a leader in youth soccer in the USA. It is also one that directly awards tangible efforts from people, not given on opinion.
Question: What makes Players First licensing different from other initiatives or programs your club has participated in?
Graham: The approach and expectations set by US Club Soccer ensure the separation from one club to the next. It has been frustrating for us and other similar-minded clubs when you see other organizations receive accolades that we believe they had no right to. Whether it's being granted an undeserved level or platform to play at, or something else, the process to receive those awards had little to no substance in them, it was typically based on an individual analysis or opinion. The Players First certification is based on fact, and that is the only way to separate those who really do and those who say they do. I would like to see US Club Soccer keep adding to the list of what is required and asking clubs to continuously grow and meet standards.
Question: What would you like the parents of Livermore Fusion Soccer Club to know about what this means to them?
Graham: I think it reassures to our parents what we already preach. It shows we act on our word, and we are always looking to improve for the players. Soccer is forever changing, the world is forever progressing and a soccer club must be growing on an annual basis to keep up with the demands and expectations of these changes. Sometimes all the work behind the scenes and off the field is unnoticed or unknown. The Players First award helps show members there is a lot of work that goes into what we produce on the field to create the experience we do.
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.