An event bigger than we ever imagined, 14,000 soccer people at one Convention over 4 days – we waited 18 months to be in a position to attend & make a splash in the US sector. It was well worth the wait as we arrived with the mission to revolutionize youth player development across US & Canadian soccer ops.
It began with the pilgrimage to the “Rocky Steps”, taking in the sunrise at 7.20am on Weds morning followed by a good breakfast at Reading Terminal Market. Once those were both ticked off the list, it was down to the serious work of establishing PlayerStat Data at the world’s leading soccer event.
Irish American Soccer Hall of Fame Breakfast
Our first event on Thursday was the Irish American Soccer Hall of Fame Breakfast – a huge thanks to Brian Roberts for the invite. It was a great event with Trish Hughes & Barry Gorman inducted into the Hall of Fame. We learnt about the huge impact & footprint Barry has left on American soccer over many decades. Trish has been a huge help to us as a company over the last few months & has been very open with advice and help. It was an honor to be there to see her inducted into the Hall of Fame.
After a few sales meetings, we opened our Booth 1225 at the Exhibit Hall that evening. There was a queue of excited attendees queuing from 5.20pm to get into the Hall at 6pm – the size and scale of the hall just beggared belief. We hit the ground running on & the interest in our company & our offering grew as the Convention went on.
As the saying goes, “everything is bigger in America”. The size of some stands/booths and the sheer marketing spend of some companies at the event was amazing. We were opposite one booth with a staff of more than 30 over the three days, they must have handed out well over $100k worth of free gear to attendees. The US market is certainly an important & lucrative market for many companies and the presence of a number of data / wearable companies just shows the mutual importance of this market and data/wearable outputs. We’re definitely in the right place!
The American audience got to hear the finest Waterford accent as well – we had a 20 min window on the Innovation Hub stage to showcase PlayerStat Data, our offering and what we will do for our club clients. A company pitch that generated a good crowd, many in the crowd were overheard saying “It is like having Steve Jobs back on the stage again”…..well that’s what it sounded like they said anyway!
Over the 3 days at the Booth, there was a lot of interest from youth operations in our trial period offering. We left Philly with more trial clients than we expected, a huge boost to us – it proves our message resonated with our target market over there and we can have a very big impact on this market!
There were two other standout pieces from the few days at the Convention in Philly.
On Friday night (again, thank you to Brian Roberts for the tickets) there was a great night at the Plough & Stars: a Q&A session with Jim Crawford, Niall Quinn & Stephen Kenny. The first floor of the pub was packed out, hearing three great voices on Irish football and they were very open, honest & ambitious about the future of the game.
It was great to finally grab a chat with the ever-popular Niall Quinn & I’m sure Stephen Kenny will take onboard our advice for the French game in March – “Give ’em hell Stephen”. Wise tactical words.
We were able to generate some podcast interviews while we were there too but notably, we finally met up a good pal & a great podcaster, Matt Baehr. Matt runs the brilliant Discover College Soccer podcast, a podcast that will prove an invaluable resource for players & parents taking the jump towards a college place. Matt has become a friend of ours over the past year & a fountain of knowledge for us – it was great to meet him in the flesh. As our network gets bigger & friendships grow, the Convention will be a great place to catch up with everyone each year.
For our first time at the Convention, our hard work, good messaging & a receptive audience allowed us to make a much bigger splash than anticipated. We leant heavily on our networking & Irish charm, but the few days proved that our player development monitoring data platform will revolutionize youth operations across North America.
The Irish American soccer network is in a very healthy place and it was brilliant to meet a number of very important people who are crucial to the development of the network. These people deserve an Irish team on their doorstep for the next World Cup!
There are a number of companies helping to fund & grow this network, the ongoing generosity of the likes of Brian Ainscough, O’Neills, STATSports and Emerald Tile Stone will be remembered for many years to come.
We’re offering something unique, something that solves a number of issues at youth level & something that will inevitably allow clubs & their youth players to realize their own goals.
It was a pleasure United Soccer Coaches, thanks for having us and we’re certain we’re on the road to revolutionizing youth player development across the USA and Canada.