Kansas City, Kansas- With U.S. Soccer and its supporters constantly attempting to stake their claim in the top crop of soccer countries world-wide, the only thing at the moment that might allow them to open their arms and accept America as a “footballing nation” would be a World Cup. Well, U.S. Soccer, Sporting Kansas City, and Children’s Mercy have brainstormed and come up with a place to help make that happen.
The Quest To Win A World Cup Starts at the National Training Center
After accomplishing the construction of Sporting Park, the initiator of the unique soccer specific stadiums around the league, VP of Development for Sporting KC Dave Ficklin and his team sat around and began to brainstorm about what the biggest thing they could accomplish in soccer. The obvious answer was to win a World Cup. Then that spurred the simple question of, “How do we win a World Cup?”
From there it went to “We get better players,” to “How do we get better players?” And the answer to that was: coaching. At the moment, the U.S. Soccer Coaching development program doesn’t have a permanent home. Come December 15th, they will have a home, and boy will it be grand.
The “new digs” for both U.S. Soccer and Sporting Kansas City will be one of, if not the most, state of the art training facility in the United States. The 80,000 square foot facility will hold five full size soccer fields (for now). Three of them will be natural grass, the same combination of grasses that make up the current playing field at Sporting Park. Those three will be reserved for Sporting KC. The other two will outdoor, synthetic turf. Those will belong to U.S. Soccer.
All five of them will have “smart pitch” capabilities. The fields will be fitted with fiber underneath that will directly connect to a cloud. The cloud will store video and data from every training session. The goal of this is to be able to provide instant feedback to a player or a coaching license candidate. Instead of taping a session then cutting and editing film and showing it to the players the next day, a coach can pull a player to the side and show him what he needs to correct and move within minutes. And in the classrooms on site, the other coaching candidates can observe and listen in on the sessions another candidate and the instructor are going through as well.
Sporting KC will take over their half of the facility when the project is completed and make it their permanent home. Sporting’s current home at Swope Soccer Village will be used solely for the academy and Swope Park Rangers, their USL affiliate. While touring the Training Center site on Tuesday, Vermes said that the separation between the academy and first team training facilities will give kids that goal and make the first team something special to work towards.
While the “Smart Pitches” are one of the big selling points, the facility will be full of some incredibly high quality amenities. Here is a rundown of the other things the center will have included:
- Classrooms connected to the fields via the cloud
- A mass banquet hall
- 12,500 square foot gym and workout facility
- Sporting’s current gym is 1,200 square feet
- A hydrotherapy pool with a movable floor depending on the height of the person using the pool. It will be fitted with two cameras so coaches can go over form and movement with the subject.
- A cryotherapy pool chilled to 53 degrees
- An incline training hill with one slope at 10 degrees, another slope at 20 degrees, and three different stairway sizes.
- Sand Soccer Field
- Nine Locker-rooms
Despite the obvious competitive soccer motivations behind the facility, Children’s Mercy’s involvement offers a separate lens at which this facility can be looked at. They have envisioned the center as a coming together of soccer and the community. Children’s Mercy Hospitals will be using the gym and rehabbing facilities to help with their own patients, side by side with the training and use of the facility from Sporting KC and the others.
Fans of soccer in the United States should be excited by a facility like this. The ability to meld community, cutting edge technology, a place for players and coaches to get together, in one unique place is the future of soccer in the states. Hopefully, it leads to a bright and successful future for not only Sporting KC, but US Soccer.