Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Small-Sided Soccer-A Leap of Faith

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Small-Sided Soccer-A Leap of Faith

Article excerpt

Long before David Beckham showed interest in building a soccer stadium in Florida's sunny Miami-Dade County, another United Kingdom import, Scottish-born Alan Georgeson and his son Scott Georgeson, owners of Soccer 5 USA, were already investing in small-sided soccer fields in Miami-Dade County-owned parks.

Miami-Dade County and Small-Sided Soccer

Miami-Dade County has 1.6 million residents of Hispanic origin--more than half the county's population. Traditionally, Hispanic people love to play and watch soccer. Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS) recognized the need to build more soccer fields at regional and community parks to keep up with demand. However, PROS was planning and building regulation-sized soccer fields, and running out of land quickly. So, why invest in small-sided soccer versus traditional soccer fields?

Small-sided soccer is played with fewer players than traditional soccer. Small teams can play a game with just a few friends on smaller playing fields. Small-sided soccer is ranked the fastest growing sport in the United Kingdom and is preferred for teaching children the basics of soccer. With small-sided soccer, players have more contact with the ball and develop skills faster. Smaller fields are also easier for children to manage.

PROS found a partner in the Georgesons, who are both familiar with how to manage smaller fields and teach the game.

In 2010, Soccer 5 USA approached PROS about building small-sided soccer fields at Kendall Soccer Park, a popular regional park in Miami-Dade. At the time, there were no small-sided soccer facilities anywhere in Miami-Dade. Soccer 5 proposed to build four state-of-the-art facilities in an undeveloped section of the popular park. Soccer 5 came equipped with the design and the capital to construct the facilities in record time, but first they had to navigate their way through the complex public procurement system with Miami-Dade County.

Soccer 5 applied for a permit to conduct business with Miami-Dade County, which is a one-year contract with a one-year optional extension. Taking this risk was a great leap of faith for a company interested in investing capital to build on land with a short contract life. Miami-Dade Parks also assumed risks, including what to do with the development once it was built and no guarantee of the game gaining a following the way it has overseas.

During this time, while Soccer 5 was operating under its permit and growing in popularity, PROS put out a recreational program contract to provide soccer programs and facilities in its parks. …

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