Non League America was out at the National Amateur Championship in Chattanooga. This amateur cup is a relatively new competition which we believe has exciting potential for the growth of the Non League game in the United States if done right. The 4 team cup competition pits the previous years NPSL and PDL champions against the USASA National Amateur Cup and Werner Fricker US Open Cup champions. The National Amateur Cup runs alongside USASA qualifying rounds for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. After regional tournaments decide Lamar Hunt participants, the 4 remaining regional champions continue their competition until the winner is awarded the Werner Fricker US Open Cup.
Many of the teams that compete at this level are the oldest continuously operated independent soccer clubs in the United States. Many of these clubs have strong ethnic ties and serve their communities in a myriad of ways above and beyond the soccer field. There are strong local rivalries in the Northeast that go back decades. Teams like New York Greek American Atlas and the Pancyprian Freedoms in New York City’s Cosmopolitan Soccer League have been playing since 1941 and 1974, respectively. I asked John Motta, the President of the USASA how he intended to market this history to the next generation of fans. I liked some of his ideas and others not as much. The supporter experience seems to be a distant afterthought, which Non League America is adamant that we change.
There are amateur teams, teams that are eligible to enter the US Open Cup, playing in USASA sanctioned leagues in every single state in this country. Get out and investigate your local league. Find a team that suits you and start a supporters movement behind these existing independent clubs. We are interested to hear your approaches to growing the game at this level. Join the discussion on twitter – @nonleagueUSA.