Almost exactly five years ago, a small group of business and community leaders came together at Federation headquarters (“Soccer House”) in Chicago.
Answering the question of what they could do to directly help develop soccer in the United States.
The group members did not work in the sports industry. They had not played at the national level. In fact, some of them hadn’t grown up playing at all.
But they had one thing in common: they loved soccer, and recognized that through their own personal time, resources, networks, and energies, they could make an impact on the game they love.
The first U.S. Soccer Development Council was born.
Ivaldo Basso, a founding member of the Chicago Development Council, recalls those first moments and shared his story.
“With parents from Italy, it was a certainty I’d be playing soccer as a kid,” said Ivaldo. “As I grew up loving the game and rooting for the U.S. in all sports, I was always both fascinated and perplexed by the fact that we’ve been large underdogs at the world’s game, while being dominant in many other sports. I often wondered how we could turn that around, and how I could be part of the solution.”
Today, there are more than 80 members (and counting) like Ivaldo – volunteering and contributing to be part of the solution – in Development Councils based in four major American cities. New York and the Bay Area quickly joined Chicago, and launched just this year, Los Angeles established its first group.
The members laid out a charter statement: Development Council members are ambassadors increasing access, resources, and engagement to accelerate the development of world-class players and coaches to make soccer the preeminent sport in the United States.
Collectively, Development Councils have fundraised, donated, and pledged more than $1.25 million to U.S. Soccer.
U.S. Soccer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It has no owners, shareholders, or dividends – and receives $0 in Federal funding to support 23 National Teams, as well as education and resources for hundreds of thousands of coaches and referees, and programs that impact millions of players.
Development Council members know that it takes a community to unite and build resources to advance the game in our nation. Members have made a personal donation to the Federation, while also hosting dozens of events, bringing together hundreds of people to support and learn about U.S. Soccer.
“I met folks from U.S. Soccer during one of my many trips watching the U.S. play,” said Ivaldo, who is now a Development Council Co-Chair. “I was in awe by the talent, passion and tireless work ethic of the people I met, who were dedicating themselves every day to helping soccer succeed in our country. I wanted to help amplify that work.”
Over the years, Development Council members have contributed to and helped build a range of unique programs, including scholarships and diversity programs.
The Development Councils’ current focus is on coaching education. The Councils believe that U.S. Soccer programs supporting and educating coaches can impact not just a coach, but have a long-term impact on players, teams, clubs, and communities.
Most recently, the Development Councils hosted a virtual event with U.S. Soccer USMNT veteran and official podcast host Charlie Davies, and U-23 USMNT Head Coach Jason Kreis. During this conversation, the Council heard about developing young players, and listeners asked questions about coaching topics.
Past events have featured U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Earnie Stewart, USWNT General Manager Kate Markgraf, USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, former USWNT Head Coach Jill Ellis, USWNT veterans including Christie Rampone Pearce, Lindsay Tarpley, and Heather O’Reilly, USMNT veteran Carlos Bocanegra, and more.
In the year ahead, Development Councils are stepping up to support the organization as it faces unprecedented challenges due to the Covid pandemic. Their contributions will be critical to delivering core coaching programs across the United States.
“Being a founding member of the first Development Council has allowed me to be shoulder-to-shoulder with leaders from other industries to all work together – with U.S. Soccer – to further establish the sport we love,” said Ivaldo.
For Fan Week 2020, we celebrate the generosity and commitment of U.S. Soccer Development Council members and toast the extraordinary impact they are making on soccer in America.
2020 Development Council Members
Jenny Kim Giblin
J C Groon
Nicole Nye Azzopardi