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 San Juan Soccer Club apply for Players First licensing?
Zeca Neto, Director of Coaching of San Juan Soccer Club: We are big supporters of US Club Soccer's Players First Vision and mission. The five pillars are the areas that we as a club strive to be great in. We want the soccer community to know exactly what we stand for and being a Players First Licensed club is a public statement about our priorities.
Question: What does it mean for San Juan Soccer Club to now be an official Players First-licensed club?
Neto: We have spent a lot of time over the last 18 months changing the direction of our club to a player centric model. We have invested in a new facility, adding new staff, and continuing to educate our current staff to create the best environment for our players. We are pleased that we are being recognized for the accomplishments thus far but now need to push ourselves further in other areas of our club that need our attention. Being a Players First club reminds us how far we have come and to keep looking forward to where we want to go to.
Question: What makes Players First licensing different from other initiatives or programs your club has participated in?
Neto: Players First forced us to look at where we are objectively to see which areas we met the P1 criteria. This was a great exercise as it forced us to consider some areas that we haven’t developed as much as we thought we had. We realize there are some specific areas in regard to parent engagement and education that we must do a better job in. This is one of our priorities as we head into 2019.
Question: What would you like the parents of San Juan Soccer Club to know about what this means to them?
Neto: It means that your players health and well being are our top priority. We are working every day to prioritize connecting with the people (players) in our club before we focus on the soccer. We want to create an environment where players feel safe to express themselves on and off of the field without fear of failure or judgement.
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.