It was wonderful to see many of you at our AGM in Nashville, and thank you again to John Snyder and all our friends at the Tennessee State Soccer Association for the warm welcome!
As always, your participation and commitment helped make our AGM a success. With this email, I want to share the [President’s Report] and note a few highlights. We:
celebrated our teams, including our 2019 Women’s World Cup champions;
re-elected Cindy Parlow Cone as Vice President to a full four-year term and elected Juan Uro as a new Independent Director;
approved a budget of $132 million as part of our five-year plan to grow the game by investing in players, coaches and referees at all levels;
highlighted the 27 youth and adult members that are working to boost participation with this year’s $2.4 million in grants from our Innovate to Grow Fund;
announced that the board’s Technical Committee will take a close look at our elite pathways to make sure that we expand the talent pool for our national teams;
approved one change to our bylaws and several amendments to our policies;
welcomed three new Member Organizations: Cerebral Palsy Soccer, the National Independent Soccer Association and United Futsal, bringing us to 113 members;
granted provisional national affiliate status to the Armed Forces Sports Council;
celebrated the extraordinary career of Jill Ellis and presented the Werner Fricker Award to legendary referee Esse Baharmast; and,
looked ahead to 2020, including the Tokyo Olympics and the start of qualifying for the 2022 Men’s World Cup!
As always, our meetings—including comments during For the Good of the Game—were an opportunity to discuss how we can make sure that our Federation continues to serve all members.
Coaching Education—Over the years, we have made significant investments in coaching education, including the development of the online Learning Center, as we pursue our goal of issuing 300,000 new coaching licenses by 2022. During the AGM, some members asked us to reduce the costs of the online grassroots coaching courses. I’ve therefore asked Federation staff to work with members to explore additional ways to reduce barriers to coaching education and report back at the member meetings in Chicago in April.
Referees—Several members raised a concern that has also been a focus of our Youth Task Force’s working group on referees: it’s harder than ever to retain and recruit referees. The new national awareness campaign that we’ll launch in the fall aims to promote respect for referees and help with retention. In the meantime, I’ve asked our staff to continue working with the referee working group, the State Referee Committees and members to identify other potential opportunities to improve referee recruitment and retention.
Fees—Some speakers also raised an issue that has come up over the years: the fees that members pay the Federation. As I discussed in the President’s Report at our AGM last year in Scottsdale, we looked closely at this issue and found that the Federation consistently gives back to our membership—in both direct financial contributions and non-cash support—more than what is paid in fees. It’s clear, however, that some members still have concerns, so we agreed to convene a task force to study this issue and to determine how the Federation and members can invest together in areas that will drive long-term development.
Finally, since our AGM, the Federation filed an important motion regarding the lawsuit by the Women’s National Team. As I said in Nashville, we’ll continue to do everything we can to resolve this and other lawsuits in the best interest of everyone involved, even as we advance our mission to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States by investing in players, coaches, referees at all levels.
Again, thank you for making this year’s AGM so productive and for everything that you do for our Federation, day in and day out. We’re only as strong as each other, and I look forward to working with you to keep growing the game all across our country.
In that spirit, here’s looking ahead to another great year!