"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Hello everyone. I hadn't planned on releasing an interview today, but news broke earlier that SoCal SC of the NPSL will cease operations and won't be playing next year. It's a shame. They now join FC Fargo on the list of teams I've interviewed that no longer exist. I started working on this interview last year, actually, but stopped getting replies. I had hoped to pick up where we left off once the season ended, but there is no off season for the team now. So I decided to release this short, incomplete, yet heartfelt interview with Daniel Gamba, the General Manager. This team had a real vision for what they wanted to be, but for whatever reason, couldn't make it happen. The loss of any team is a loss for all of soccer.
Tell us a little about yourself. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with SoCal SC?
My name is Daniel Gamba, and I am SoCal SC GM. I received a B.S. degree in International Trade from the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS) in 2003, a B.S. degree in International Business – Management from Alliant International University (AIU) in 2006, and an Executive Master’s Degree in Sports Organization Management from L’Institut Nacional d’Educació Fisica de Catalunya (INEFC) - Universitat de Lleida in 2012. Since then, I have broadened my education by completing a variety of training courses and attending professional conferences that have complemented my expertise in the sports business and entertainment field. Most recently, I have shifted my attention to the worldwide opportunities around soccer/football in the USA, as the CEO of Professional Sports Network (PSN), an Investor at Lane United Football Club (LUFC), the General Manager of Southern California Sports Club (SoCal SC) and the Managing Partner of the San Bernardino Soccer Complex (SBSC). Although my primary residence has been in California, for the past thirteen years, I was born and raised in Brazil. I am from Italian heritage and traveled the world extensively, which has allowed me to gather vast multicultural knowledge, harvest a broader mindset, and improve my language skills, as I am fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
How did you come to be involved with soccer in general, and SoCal SC in particular?
I've been diligently related to the soccer/football world at a personal level since childhood, having played for several youth clubs of professional teams in Brazil and Argentina and at the collegiate level in the United States. For the past decade I have been involved with sports at a management level, being responsible previously for business development activities in various areas at a leading sports travel and sports logistics agency in the Americas, own by my partner in SoCal SC' project, Mr. Elmore. Over the last 30 years, the Elmore Sports Group has owned and operated a variety of minor league sports franchises across the United States, from baseball to hockey to soccer and even arena football. Although the Elmore Sports Group focus have been mainly in baseball, the group has formed a partnership with me so we can collectively explore key opportunities in soccer. Furthermore, the Elmore Sports Group is seeking to strengthen its over 20 years of ties with the local Inland Empire community as the Elmore Sports Group already owns a class A minor league baseball team in the region, being the operator of the local stadium as well.
What is the 'origin story' behind the creation of SoCal SC?
The Southern California Sports Club (SCSC) is a product of this partnership between myself and Mr. Elmore and the second team that we own together. We are looking forward to bringing top-level professional soccer to the Inland Empire region, starting a new local legacy in terms of player development. With our global approach, we have been adding a South American flavor to the local talented pool of players, putting together an elite program for young athletes seeking for an opportunity to showcase their skills. Our main focus has been on player development, applying a similar training methodology and philosophy used at top clubs in countries like Brazil and Argentina. I am not sure if you are very familiar with our Southern California club and our vision for youth soccer player development, but I'd give you a quick recap from last season. We have created our club from scratch late last year with the main focus and purpose to further develop (from a soccer perspective) the abundant pool of young talent in the Inland Empire region, and other regions of Southern California as well. He have decided to bring international coaches from Serie A (Italian 1st Division) side Juventus FC, as well as some key international players to raise the level of play and competition of our own local players, and we believe we have started off very well, making into the NPSL regional playoffs on our first year of operation. Some players of our U19 squad had an opportunity to go to China to play a tournament under one of our affiliate teams brand, against teams like Real Madrid, Benfica and Wolfsburg. Furthermore, two of our youngsters have just recently signed with Liga MX (Mexico 1st Division) side Toluca FC.
Why did you decided to join the National Premier Soccer League, rather then the Premier Development League or the more local United Premier Soccer League?
My partner and I have some equity in a PDL team (Lane United FC), so we only considered having SoCal SC to play in the PDL and the NPSL, and no other small leagues were even factored in our analysis. The main reason we decided for the NPSL over the PDL, relied in a couple factors: season length, pool of players and player ownership rights. The PDL takes place during the summer (short season), and the player pool is drawn mainly from college soccer players seeking for an opportunity to continue playing high level soccer during their school break in the summer, while still maintaining their college eligibility. The NPSL is similar to the PDL in the sense it attracts top amateur players from around the United States, but the NPSL does not have any age limits, much less restrictions, and most importantly, it allows its clubs to sign pro soccer players, being them American or foreigners (through FIFA TMS).
You mentioned in your interview with Midfield Press that you are looking to cultivate more of a legitimate club feel, similar to South America, at SoCal. How would you explain what that looks like to someone who has no idea what that actually means?
Interesting fact here is that, it was the British people, who actually came up with the "Social & Sports Clubs" concept in South America. British immigrants founded social and sports clubs where they could practice their sports, mainly in Argentina, but also in Brazil and Uruguay. Soccer in South America was first built as a social practice and then naturally evolved as a entertainment business as commonly known nowadays, but it was always institutionally based on social clubs. Soccer, as a social practice, could have an impact in the local society by playing a significant role on local community development. By exposing Americans to such unique concept here in the USA, we hope that we can cultivate the sports and social club concept also in North America, eventually changing a local community habits.
Since you have traveled around the world quite a bit, what are three things you've seen from other countries that influence how you run the club the most?
I based my management concepts in multiculturalism, not only in soccer, but in everything I do in life. I believe that a person who has the opportunity to travel around the world is much more open-minded, less egocentric, and more prepared to the global approach of the future. One thing that I like the most is diversification of coaching staff and players, where at SoCal SC we encourage such multiculturalism and globalization, however the bottom line is, we are looking for hard-working and passionate people, regardless of their ethnicity, background, gender or class. Ultimately, if we could one day achieve at all levels in SoCal SC structure, the discipline of the Japanese, the efficiency and organization of the Germans and allied by the flair and humbleness of the Latin Americans, we would have achieved the perfect model, in my opinion.
Farewell, SoCal SC. Hopefully one day we stop seeing clubs fold here in the USA. 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 else, and make sure you aren't missing anything, click here and sign up for the newsletter. You'll be the first to know when articles are released and learn about other exciting content down the road. Make sure to spread the word by sharing these interviews, telling friends about the blog, those kind of things. I can't accomplish my goal of maximum exposure for all levels of the American Soccer Pyramid without YOU. Until next time, Stay Loyal, Support Local.