Like England, there are parts of the United States that are hotbeds for sport in the country.
We can point to St Louis in the early years (sorry England), we can also look at Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver for others. California has also had a number of great players come through. However, there has not been a more important one than the New Jersey area.
Many of the great clubs over time have been in the area, and the amatuer system has provided countless international players for the USA.
This is my chat with Atlantic City Football Club who compete in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).
Q. New Jersey is one of the great states for soccer in the country, how many clubs are there around you?
There are a great number of clubs on different levels, in terms of professional clubs – you have the Union in Philly, Red Bulls and New Tork City, this area is more Philadelphia than New York but you have both. Sky Blue is also a supported team in the woman’s league. You also have popular college teams ranging from Stockton University and Rowan to Rutgers and the Philadelphia schools like University of Pennsylvania, Drexel and Temple. In the NPSL there are five New Jersey teams and there are a few in the Premier Development League (PDL) as well and that does not even start with leagues like the Garden State Adult Amatuer League which has dozens upon dozens of teams. All in all, its a very football heavy state.
Q. What makes New Jersey so good for the sport?
A long history of the game brought in by a huge immigrant population. The cosmopolitan leagues date back a hundred years in many cases. People who say the game is new to the states do not know the history.
Q. Tell me about the formation of Atlantic City Football Club. Why was it created, what are your aims?
ACFC was created because Atlantic City deserved a team to call its own after multiple failed attempts and football had the best chance of a sustainable structure combined with the ideal season to run games in Atlantic City.
Q. Your manager is former Swansea City player and coach Kristian O’Leary who is also a former manager in the top league in Wales. What does it mean to have someone come to coach an expansion side, who has that much experience?
It is tremendous, our whole staff are volunteers and Coach O’Leary has been over here to observe footall in the US in addition to adding his experience to the players. We are blessed he was able to come over for our short season and help build this culture, we owe him a lot.
Q. You have a radio deal to broadcast your matches, that must be a big help to get fans involved.
Yes WONDRadio.com 1400 does a great job with local sports coverage. We were very blessed to have great people participate including Sal Rosamila who was tremendous on the air for us.
Q. What is a game day experience like?
Stockton University is scenic and pristine. Perfect grass field and 2,000 seats. We got very lucky in our first year but our goal is to play in Atantic City next season.
Q. The NPSL Keystone Conference is good, what can you say about the style of play in the conference?
The most competitive conference in the NPSL. We lost four of our five games 1-0. We gave up nine goals all year but did ot make the play-offs which tells you how talented the teams are. FC Motown fielded a professional team as did the Cosmos and Miami FC, it brought the NPSL up to a new level this season.
Q. Your club is one of the most active across social media platforms, how has that helped you get the word out and make Atlantic City FC better?
That is all because of our sponsor Tropicana Hotel and Casino, the social aspect is everything to them and we take it very seriously. We ca
re about everything going on in the community and want to help spread positive programs and messages about the rebirth of Atlantic City.
Q. I see you guys are jumping on the eSport industry, what do you see in it, that can help your consumer base?
Again, this is because of Atlantic City’s unique positioning to be a eSports mecca in the future. We felt it was necessary to begin that process as soon as possible. Right now we only compete in FIFA but there will be a new eSports franchise coming out of Atlantic City Sports Club that competes across multiple games.
Q. What is your overall goal with Atlantic City FC?
Build a long lasting community focused team that helps make Atlantic City a world famous football destination for both domestic and international fans. We want the best teams in the world staying at the Tropicana, playing our team and enjoying what makes Atlantic City unique.