"We keep costs down and keep cash in teams pockets so they can grow."
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Good morning again AP readers! Soccer is kicking off everywhere in Europe right now and Ze Germans have a chance at a lot of Gold in Brazil. Got a lot of fun and interesting interviews lined up for you over the next couple of months, ranging from Florida, to Minnesota, to the West Coast. Going to be a crazy ride!
Today you get to read an interview I did with the commissioner of the United Premier Soccer
League, Yan Skwara. We talked back and forth over several months to get this done. Being the commissioner of a growing league with dozens of teams does tend to make one busy. So without further ado, please enjoy the AP interview with Yan Skwara
Welcome to American Pyramid. Let's start by telling me a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with the United Premier Soccer League.
My name is Yan Skwara. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and attended California State University of Los Angeles. played college soccer at Cal State LA and pursued a professional career in soccer in the 80's which included playing in Germany for several clubs and here in the United States, After my soccer career concluded,i pursued a second career in business. From 1989 to 1998, i was a Investment Banker/Venture Capitalist. In 1998, my passion for the game of soccer moved my entrepreneur spirit and left Corporate America and pursue establishing a private sports marketing company, focused on the soccer market. Over the years, i has successfully founded several soccer related brands and consumer related health products which included my expertise in finance, marketing, public relations and corporate communications. Today, I am the Commissioner of the United Premier Soccer League which has become a regional league over the years with a national footprint, with over 40 teams under its league umbrella between California, Nevada and Arizona. My role for the UPSL is to oversee the direction and growth of the league and its future expansion prospects as i work with corporate and private partnerships for the league and team and league expansion including other day to day activities.
Can you recap the history of the United Premier Soccer League for me? Basically,what's the leagues 'origin story?’
The United Premier Soccer League was founded in 2011 by Leonel Lopez out of Los Angeles as a Amateur League with 8-12 teams in the league at any one time. In 2014, Yan Skwara was named Commissioner of the UPSL to assist Leonel Lopez with the future vision of the UPSL and at the same time increase team membership.
During the initial start up years, up to 2014, the league morphed into a Pro Development league with a regional focus, as the league expanded its team membership. Today in 2016, the UPSL sits with over 40 teams between four conferences spanning across California, Nevada and Arizona. The UPSL's focus is to continue to expand throughout the Western United States but also start to developing a national foot print with Promotion Relegation as its future league model thus paving a crucial league component into the American game.
The league has minimum standards and currently operates with two separate seasons during a 12-month period thus giving its team, players, and fans a 10 month window of play which is again another important component to assist in developing the game in the USA.
The league currently places a large focus on marketing, social media, public relations, communications and corporate sponsorship for its team members.
What is it about the UPSL that is attracting so many teams so quickly, and what advantages does it have over the other leagues in your region?
The UPSL is growing because we have Teams with geographical proximity to one another which keeps budgets in line and down not up. Competitive play and cost effective league fees compared to other leagues that offer the same competition.
Far as I know, the UPSL may be the first men's league outside of the state level to have a team from Idaho. How did Magic Valley joining the league come about?
Magic Valley FC in Idaho came into the UPSL for the above reasons, looking for competitive play at a cost effective level and they simply reached out to us via phone
As the commissioner, what roles does your job typically entail?
As commissioner my roles vary as I wear many hats. My day to day role is supervising the leagues state and condition and making sure we continue to keep our eye on the goal which is consolidating a fragmented men's US adult pro development market. I work closely with our founder and president, Leonel Lopez, making sure the schedule is executed and vetting teams for the league as we push to grow the league overall.
Where would you like to see the UPSL in 5 years?
We have developed a National Footprint so being a national League is on the wall now. A few other leagues around the country are in the same mode that we are so connecting the dots would certainly be a possibility so that everyone is under one umbrella.
How exciting has it been to see La Maquina and LA Wolves advance as far as they have in the USOC?
The U.S Open Cup is a special tournament and certainly UPSL teams being able to participate and compete in the cup has put our league on the map. we have shown the country that our teams are tough and capable to compete and i think the this years participated ie the LA Wolves and La Maquina have only spurred more interest from entries for next years cup.
I have readers in California looking to start teams in their communities. What are the things you look for when it comes to adding new teams to the league?
Great.. we look for ownership groups that know the game and have a drive to compete and grow their club. we vent each club and determine is they are a good fit moving forward. typically we look at their market potential, business plan, finances, management, and current player and team pool.
What does it cost to enter the UPSL, if it costs anything?
1500 per season. Two seasons in a twelve month period. We keep costs down and keep cash in teams pockets so they can grow.
Now that the USPL is looking to go national, are you seeing an increase in interest from states outside of California and the Southwest?
Yes. We have made contact with numerous leagues and teams outside of our current region and continue to discuss possible expansion into those markets. But we have to be careful not to grow too fast and get spread out too thin as that can possibly move us backwards, so one step at a time.
What's your favorite league and/or team to watch?
Big fan of Argentine and German leagues and Polish soccer.
Favorite Player. One past, one present.
Griezmann is a great current player to watch and all time is Cruyff.
Favorite book, soccer related or otherwise.
Where can people find out more about yourself and the league?
Yan, thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it. Remember, if you are enjoying the content I'm putting out, I'd encourage you to click here to Follow me on Twitter, or here to Like the page on Facebook. And if you'd like to read these interviews before everyone
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