“International soccer clubs consider Miami as the capital of soccer in the United States”
Although it is not among the four most popular sports such as baseball, basketball, American football or ice hockey, soccer is becoming a popular sport among young people 12 to 24 year-olds. According to a U.S. television network ESPN Sports poll, soccer is popular within 10% of the population, which represents 33 million people. That figure could not be underestimated.
Rich Luker, sociologist and who is part of the poll, acknowledged that soccer is a sport with a projected high growth, without forgetting that it is the favorite game of one of the largest minorities in United States (USA), the Latino community.
Beside the data, trends and realities, the truth is that the social perception of soccer had to overcome a major cultural barrier in the USA. However, in just a few years three realities changed that perception. For the sociologist, cultural diversity, a more global perspective and widespread access to other sports through cable and internet that allows Americans to become more and more exposed to soccer.
Soccer experts recognize that after the World Cup was held in the USA in 1994, the sport began to take off in popularity and began to growth. As a result, European soccer teams such as, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal and Liverpool, the Colombian Atletico Nacional and Argentina’s Boca Juniors have turned their interest to Miami. They have opened soccer academies to attract not only lifetime fans but to seek local talent hoping that from Miami the sport fan base will grow across the country.
In addition to the efforts from those international big name soccer teams, United Soccer Club have also opened academies in Miami which have been very successful. The club runs a soccer program after school in nine geographical areas such as, Coral Way, Kendall, South Miami, Coral Reef and Homestead, just to name a few. Approximately 100 children in grades K-5 practice soccer at least twice a week.
“We have children who have never played soccer but once they try it, they like the sport. Others have never touched a soccer ball and now they love to kick it and to play with it”, said Andres Arango one of the owners of United Soccer Club. For Arango Miami is the place for this type of project, where more than 35% of the population is Latina and more Americans are also practicing the sport.
The club also has a league that brings together some 70 children, whose ages range from 3 to 14 year-olds. Those children receive a much more rigorous and competitive training. Older players have participated in local tournaments such as Miami Soccer Festival, Sport for Kids and ESPN. The main objective of the league is to identify talents and to develop future professional soccer players.
Haz clic para leer en Español: En Miami el fútbol de moda entre los jóvenes