With more than 20,000 licensed coaches and almost 150,000 soccer referees in the United States, it would be nice to have a place where they can go to get the best instruction. A project announced by U.S. Soccer and Sporting Club (parent company of Sporting Kansas City) will be just such a place.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the two groups said they had agreed to a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the development of a new National Training and Coaching Development Center to Kansas City, Kan.
The $50 million proposal would be designed to serve as host to U.S. National Team camps as well as coaching education and referee development programming. With U.S. Soccer looking back at its first 100 years with today's centennial, the announcement was looking to the future of the sport.
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said (via the official Sporting Kansas City website) that while it's an honor for U.S. Soccer to be considering Kansas City, it's also recognition of the community support the game has received. Heineman added:
The National Training and Coaching Development Center would bring tens of thousands of hotel room nights and the futsal component has the potential to have a significant, long-term impact on youth development in our sport.
When Sporting KC defender Matt Besler started for the USMNT against Canada in January, he became the first player born in the state of Kansas to play for the national team. With a center like this in town, I'm sure Besler won't be the last.
The local government is also on board for the project. Joe Reardon, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., said, "A national development center is a grand opportunity for us to build upon the great synergy and excitement we've experienced since the opening of Sporting Park." Reardon added that they have been working with Sporting Club as they come up with the concept for the training center.
With a center like this in town, I'm sure that October's qualifier against Jamaica won't be the last. Not that it was ever in question, but it seems to me that this announcement has cemented Kansas City as an integral part of the future of the sport in this country.