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.
Q: Why did Hawaii Soccer Academy first apply for Players First licensing?
James Sasiadek, President/Technical Director: Aloha! We first heard of the launch of Players First licensing a couple of years ago and thought it was a wonderful and innovative idea. There are many clubs out there that we've seen firsthand doing the right things the right way and creating a great environment within their organizations. The right way for their players, for their parents, for their staff and for their community. For an organization like US Club Soccer to provide a platform to recognize these clubs is outstanding. Becoming a Players First-licensed club aligned with our mission and it was an opportunity we could not pass on, as our academy continues to grow and differentiate itself from other clubs around the state.
Q: What does it mean for Hawaii Soccer Academy to now be an official Players First-licensed club?
Sasiadek: At Hawaii Soccer Academy, our mission is to be the elite soccer program in the entire state of Hawaii. After years of bringing in qualified coaches from across the country and globe and working tirelessly together to create something really special, we felt it was the right time to apply to be a part of this elite group of clubs. We believe we have really raised the bar in the Hawaii soccer community by creating our Hawaii version of a Players First environment. Hawaii Soccer Academy is committed to providing our families, players and staff with the best opportunities and resources. In order to do this, we want to collaborate and associate with other organizations with similar goals. Part of US Club Soccer's vision and mission includes creating the best possible development environment for players of all ages in every club and becoming the best soccer organization in the country. When Hawaii Soccer Academy was selected as an official Players First-licensed club, it solidified to us that we are moving in the right direction. We want to work alongside organizations like US Club Soccer that are committed to player success like we are.
Q: What makes Players First licensing different from other initiatives or programs your club has participated in?
Sasiadek: This initiative really is something outside of other initiatives we have participated in. We recently formed a strategic partnership with a fellow Players First-licensed club, San Francisco Elite Academy. We did this in order to create additional opportunities and resources for our players to compete and find pathways to the mainland, which is a huge priority of ours. Many individuals from both of our staffs have taken coaching education courses over the years and have developed friendships while sharing ideas and concepts. In soccer, especially coaching and organizing a club, this is what it's all about! We are already in the formative stages of planning a top-tier soccer tournament here on the beautiful Hawaii islands, and we will be inviting all the Players First clubs to attend. Being a Players First-licensed club is something really unique. We are proud to be the only club in Hawaii with this distinction. It goes to show that we are committed to our "ohana" (the Hawaiian word for family) by providing the best for our kids and being the elite soccer program in the state.
Q: What would you like the parents of Hawaii Soccer Academy to know about what this means to them?
Sasiadek: We want our parents to know this is going to benefit Hawaii Soccer Academy's players and coaches by providing them with further opportunities to learn, and resources to develop. Players' long-term success and development, coaches' development, player health and welfare and encouraging collaboration and cooperation between clubs with similar goals are some of the core values of US Club Soccer. It is a privilege for us as an academy to be able to say we are collaborating with an organization of this caliber. We hope our parents will see the value of this!
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.