GotSoccer Winter Convention Recap

The 10th Annual GotSoccer Convention wrapped up with a Sunday’s night farewell cocktail party at the beautiful One Ocean Resort on the shores of Neptune Beach, Florida, a relaxing capper to an informative and entertaining weekend of soccer talk between leaders from all corners of the game in the United States and beyond.

GotSoccer clients from the world of U.S. Youth Soccer, professional sports leagues from all across the globe, top-ranked guest speakers, and our sponsors, all made their way to sunny Florida for a two-day celebration of the beautiful game.

GotSoccer lined up an impressive array of speakers from all realms of the soccer/ football world, beginning on Saturday with the opening speaker of the Convention, the colorful and oft-times controversial Executive Chairman of Relevent Sports Charlie Stillitano.

GotSoccer CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas (left) & Charlie Stillitano (right) discuss Relevant Sports’ plans for soccer in the U.S. & beyond.

Stillitano, who gave an exclusive interview to GotSoccer a few days before the convention, shared the stage with GotSoccer CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas for a Q&A session, with much of the audience hanging on Stillitano’s every word as the soccer executive explained his company’s efforts to bring a regular season La Liga match between Barcelona and Girona to Miami this coming January.

The flamboyant Stillitano was a great opening act but the rest of the bill managed to keep up, even with the unfortunate absence of former USMNT star and one-time candidate for President of the USSF Eric Wynalda.

Mark Lamping talks the Jags, Fulham & the failed Wembley bid.

Wynalda had to cancel his trip after he tragically lost his home in the California wildfires. Fortunately, Wynalda and his family escaped unharmed and we at GotSoccer join the rest of the soccer community in the United States in sending our best wishes to the Wynalda family.

With their divergent experiences in the sport, Saturday’s remaining speakers kept the audience entertained and informed. Mark Lamping is the President of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars as well as a Member of the Fulham FC Board of Directors and it was in the latter capacity that Lamping relayed Fulham’s efforts to buy the historic Wembley Stadium. Efforts that have been sidelined for now, although Lamping did not rule out a future bid from Jags owner Shad Khan if conditions change.

Eredivisie Chairman Jacco Swart spoke on a variety of topics that affect not just the Netherlands topflight but also many of the smaller leagues around the world that operate somewhat in the shadows of the all-powerful Premier League, La Liga, and Bundesliga.

Jacco Swart reveals the challenges facing leagues without the budgets of the EPL.

Swart wasn’t shy on giving his views on the La Liga to Miami concept – he is not in favor – providing more talking points for the assembled.

Bill Cameron highlights the numbers he thinks show the U.S. is far from challenging for a Men’s World Cup title anytime soon.

In a passionate and insightful presentation, Analytics Maven Emeritus Bill Cameron had the crowd riled up when he delved into the numbers to poke a big fat hole in former U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati’s assertion that the U.S. would win the World Cup in 2026 in his passionate and insightful presentation.

The first day was drawn to a close with the unveiling of the new groundbreaking GotSport software. GotSoccer’s William Cameron led the very informative session with Gavin Owen-Thomas and other staffers offering advice to club administrators, competition directors and State delegates who will be the very people tasked with using it.

With a good days work behind them, GotSoccer Convention attendees were treated to a Saturday night block party and with a taco truck on hand to supplement the first rate barbeque a splendid time was had by all.

James Murray discussed how Arsenal are using different mediums to drive fan engagement locally and abroad.

 

Sunday’s schedule more than lived up to the high bar set on Saturday. In a return engagement, Arsenal’s Head of Business Strategy James Murray was a hit once again, with the room hanging on his every word as he shared his knowledge gleaned from working at one of the most famous clubs in world football.

Dr. Pete Zopfi introduced himself and his plans for U.S. Youth Soccer.

We also heard from Dr. Pete Zopfi, the newly elected President of U.S. Youth Soccer and Lynn Berling-Manuel, the CEO of United Soccer Coaches, two speakers whose words had particular resonance with this audience.

Lynn Manuel-Berling discussed the power of coaches to impact the game and players.
GotSoccer’s Walter Gisler (Left) & Arsenal’s James Murray (right) reveal how data analytics can help grassroots & professional sports organizations.

Murray also shared the stage with GotSoccer’s Chief of Optimization Walter Gisler for another educational demonstration on the way data analytics can benefit professional and youth sports organizations. Breakout sessions followed lunch with attendees from different fields – youth club administrators, competition directors, State delegatesand professional sports – spreading out to speak to small groups and exchange ideas.

GotSoccer CEO Gavin Owen-Thomas sent a bit of a scare through the group when he began his closing remarks by stating that this might be the last GotSoccer Convention, before explaining that a name change might be in the offing.

With GotSoccer’s expansion into professional sports beyond soccer, such as Major League Rugby, Major League Lacrose the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and and the South Korean Volleyball League (KOVO), to name but a few, it may be time to reluctantly move on from the GotSoccer moniker to the more up to date GotSport.

So, don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. Just keep an eye out for next year’s GotSport Convention.

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