Posts Tagged Non League

Unaffiliated Leagues Series: Vol. 1- Gotham Soccer League

Welcome to part 1 of our Unaffiliated Leagues Series where we shine a light on some competitive leagues that for one reason or another do not feel it necessary to affiliate formally with US Soccer in order to achieve their goals.  In this series we hope to touch on a wide variety of clubs and discuss the reasons why they may feel there currently is no place for them within the formal US Soccer organization as it is currently structured.


Non League America:  What is the Gotham Soccer League?


Gotham Soccer League:  Gotham Soccer League was founded in 2006. At the time, there wasn’t an option for players who wanted full-field 11v11 soccer on weeknights in NYC. For the first 8 years, that’s all we did, and we slowly grew to two divisions. Growing the league wasn’t a priority at first because it was only a side project of the founder. The goal was simply to provide an easier option than the time-consuming Sunday leagues since they require travel and giving up a full day of the weekend.


NLA:  How does the GSL differentiate itself from other lower divisions leagues in these regions?


GSL:  New York City has an incredible adult soccer scene, and last time I counted, there were 20 adult leagues. So it’s very competitive, and it’s hard to stand out. However, over the last two years, we have done things that no other league has ever done, and we continue to innovate. We film a 4K HD game highlight video every week. Every team gets filmed each season. A professional photographer shoots a game for every team each season. We pick a Best XI. We host All-Star games. We started one of the only women’s divisions in town. We held the first ever Champions League style tournament and had the best teams from different leagues face off. And we give our divisions news coverage that more resembles a pro league. We like to say we’re the rec league that provides the pro experience. Other leagues have attempted to copy what we’ve done, but only sporadically. When we are in season, there is constantly new video, photography, stats, etc. And the players seem to love it. It takes hours each week since we do almost all of it ourselves, but it’s a labor of love!



NLA: I’ve noted no US Soccer affiliated.  Why is that?


GSL:  That’s a great question. First, we want to keep our league affordable. The cost would have to be passed on to our teams, and we don’t want to raise prices. Second, there’d be no real benefit to our league. The only thing we miss are state and national cup tournaments, and we are already having intercity games among our own leagues. We are hoping that someday, you’ll be asking leagues why they aren’t affiliated with Gotham Soccer League!


NLA:  Any plans for the future (growth, expansion)?


GSL:  In 2015, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to grow much in NYC due to the limited field availability. So we decided to try starting a new city (Cincinnati). It really took off, and now we’ve gone from one city and 16 teams to seven cities and over 150 teams in only two years! And we are already scoping out some more new cities for 2018 and beyond. It’s a ton of work, but it’s exciting, and it feels great every time we see people in a new town sporting Gotham shirts and enjoying our brand of soccer.


NLA:  In my opinion, the amateur and open cup regional tournaments are the most exciting feature of lower league soccer in the US.  Any plans for regional/national tournament structure?


GSL:  We have already had regional competitions (Gotham teams from division regions playing each other) as well as tournaments among different local leagues. We’ve found that we don’t need to be part of US Soccer to hold interesting and innovative tournaments. We just need quality teams and a sense of adventure! It’s been very cool to see these matchups go down. And we definitely want to see soccer in America go forward. It can be done from the outside. We’ve had scouts from pro teams watch our games, and big clubs have started to realize that there’s talent beyond the traditional channels.

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NLA: What other cities does GSL have leagues in?


GSL:  Currently our seven locations are:  New York City, Cincinnati, Tucson, Indianapolis, Columbus, Phoenix, and Dayton. And we’re in the process of starting 2-3 more cities as I type this.


NLA:  What are some of the biggest hurdles you have had jumping into different markets?


GSL:  Real estate is always the biggest challenge. We need good fields that are available on nights and times during which our potential players want to run a game. Sometimes we have to be creative, but we love a challenge.


NLA:  Have any clubs jumped from other leagues in NYC to Gotham?  Or vice versa?


GSL:  I would say that MOST clubs who have joined Gotham played in other leagues first. It’s been very validating to see teams jump from their current leagues into ours. Clearly we’re doing something right!


NLA:  What’s the greatest success story of the league?


GSL:  As the person who runs our NYC divisions (which are our biggest both in teams and revenue), my answer is always going to be biased. But I’m quite proud of the growth we’ve experienced in the last two years in New York because we didn’t think it was possible. Still, we pulled it off, and we’ve grown revenue 73% in two years, and we did that without adding field time! We grew because more teams wanted to join, and we found ways to fit them in.


NLA:  Who is the most interesting player that you’ve encountered?


GSL:  I’ve met a LOT of talented players and great people in our league. But one of my favorite stories revolves around a guy named Tom. Tom moved to New York City in the spring of 2015. He joined one of our coed divisions by himself, and I quickly recognized that he was a leader and he was organized. I made him captain of his team almost instantly. The next season, he joined another one of our coed divisions, and he again excelled as a captain. The following season, he took the guys from his two former coed teams and formed a men’s team in our small-sided division. After a strong season there, he recruited some guys yet again and joined our 11v11 division. The first season was rough, but by the end of fall 2016, his team had won five games in a row by a ridiculous margin (I believe around 30 goals scored vs 3 conceded) and they won their first silverware. So in 15 months, he went from the new kid in town who knew NO ONE to the captain of one of our strongest 11v11 teams. It’s remarkable!  Tom’s one of many great player stories. And it’s really all about the players—that’s why we do this. Every smiling player reminds us why we run the league in the first place.

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Joe Barone on the Relationship of the NPSL and USASA

Non League America Interview with Joe Barone

We would like to thank Joe Barone, Chairman of the National Premier Soccer League, for taking the time to answer a few questions we had.  Enjoy!


Steve Bayley: Tell me what you think about the prospects for the league this year. What’s going to be different in 2017? What’s new?

Joe Barone: Well look, there’s been huge growth, we have 96 teams. I believe we’re the largest men’s national adult league in the country. Operating in the 4 regions. We’re definitely in new markets where soccer teams haven’t participated on the national level, at least in markets like North Dakota and South Dakota, so that’s definitely a huge huge plus for us, I’m also happy to say that we’ve grown in areas where we’ve had difficulties, which is the Portland Seattle, whether you call it the Washington state and Oregon areas, so there is a huge growth in those markets and I’m happy with the work the staff has done, with the board of directors and the full time staff Jeff Tiffault.  We like to talk about hot spots, and those are the hot spots that we took time into finding teams and ownership groups who invested in the NPSL.

Steve: Those spots that maybe have been slightly tougher for the NPSL to crack, you mentioned the Pacific Northwest. At the same time, the Pacific Northwest is a hot spot of lower league soccer activity and soccer activity in general. What do you think is the proper or ideal relationship between NPSL and others, what does a strong relationship between a national league like NPSL and a strong regional league like the EPLWA look like in a market like that? How can they best work together and what is the relationship with regional leagues like that at this point? And how can there be mutually beneficial activity?

Joe:  That’s always the million dollar question… What I can say is that, myself, and the executive board and the NPSL, were going into all levels of soccer, I think you need the local 7 v7 and recreational and local leagues in cities and towns to regional leagues and national leagues. So, under USASA, what I’ve done with USASA President John Motta and Duncan Riddle, who is executive director of US Soccer, what we’ve done particularly is I’ve said guys, the sport here needs to come together and we need to standardize, to have standards for amateur soccer, so when people claim to be you know, Division 4, Professional, and so forth and so on, the only thing where there is standards under US Soccer is division 1, 2, and 3, and then you know technically, there is no Division 4 right? So you can claim that a national league like the NPSL and the PDL are technically Division 4, just by the fact that it’s a national league and it has a national championship, then I said OK guys, USASA and US Soccer need to come together to put a system in place where you have a national league, lets call it USASA 1 or A, or SU Soccer Division 4 that has standards and teams can meet those standards, and then put a system in place where its monitored, you cant have a system that’s not monitored. We’re working on that and hope to have some kind of resolution hopefully by the end of the year or the next year.

Steve:  So, does that mean that they are gonna codify a standard to delineate potentially Divisions 4, 5, and 6? Like if 4 a national league, 5 was regional leagues like the EPLWA and GCPL, something like that, and then 6 would be like a league within one city, and some of the classic leagues like the Cosmopolitan League in New York and the Bay State Soccer League in Boston, and the leagues like that, the NSL in Chicago, 6 being all the leagues with teams in one metro area? Is that kind of how you see that unfolding?

Joe:  Some leagues have been involved in a proposed plan, you know a plan that is being discussed on a continuous basis, you know its been sent forward to US Soccer, you know obviously US Soccer has to digest it, and see if this is something that can work. You know we’ve put some thought into it. This is something that the game needs to have. The amateur side, I’m not saying that the teams in the Cosmopolitan League or the EPLWA or the NSL in Chicago are not good enough to compete in a national league, because they probably are. They’re good enough to compete in those leagues, right? The only thing I’m saying is, is that, if you have teams that are making the investments to play in national leagues, and at the present time, there’s two national leagues right? It’s the NPSL and it’s the PDL, right? So the investment made by those teams, to compete, and to travel, and to have staff and have all sorts of processes in place, is greater than a local team that plays in a Sunday league that maybe gets together once a week. Now are there exceptions? Of course there are exceptions. 100% there’s exceptions, you know where, a club who play in local state leagues, I mean I just think about my area, in the Cosmopolitan League, you get a team like Pancyprians, who puts a lot of money into it. Are there exceptions around the country? Of course there are exceptions, but there needs to be a structure and a standard from the USASA of how the process works. That’s what I’m saying.

Thank you, Joe.


Bearfight FC of Wilmington: Punk Football

In association with Peace Living Films, Non League America Presents…

Punk Football by Bearfight FC.

Supporter Owned independent club Bearfight FC has started a grassroots football movement in the unlikeliest of places.  Wilmington, Delaware.  The guys prove that despite numerous obstacles, independent clubs can still find their way by engaging with the communities that support them and growing together.  This is their story.


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Saturday, May 7th, 2016
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Kick Off: 6:00PM

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NPSL Match Day: Boston City v New York Cosmos B

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