"When the game is done right, it truly is an amazing sight to see!"
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Good morning AP readers! Keeping the intro brief today, I'm slightly sick and have a ton of work to do. Scott Taylor took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about his new National Premier Soccer League club FC Arizona. He covers what they're doing to appeal to the community, why they joined the NPSL, and his future ambitions for the club. Check it out.
Photo Courtesy of FC Arizona
Let's start simple. Who you are, where you're from, and what your role is with FC Arizona.
My name is Scott Taylor, I am the founder and owner of FC Arizona. I grew up in Northern Virginia and Utah most of my life. But, I have lived in Arizona for 15 years now, so this is my home state now. I live here with my wife and 5 kids, 3 of which play Soccer for local clubs. So, the game is very important to my family.
How did you come to be involved with soccer in general and FC Arizona in particular, what's the story behind the team?
I really become involved in Soccer only about 3 years ago, when my son Wade's Rec. team was formed, when he was 8 years old. None of the other Dad's would volunteer to coach. So, reluctantly, I stepped up and did it with a very talented 16 year old Center back from our neighborhood assisting me, we had a lot of success that season in terms of wins and also teaching these 8 year old boys the game, and as I studied the game in order to teach the boys. (We kind of learned together) I developed a love and passion for the game, and when the game is done right, it truly is an amazing sight to see!
Now, with a better understanding of the game, I started watching EPL, MLS and La Liga, Champions league games on TV and any chance I could see live soccer, I jumped at the chance. Whether that was in Tijuana with the Xolos, while on Vacation with buddies in Baja Mexico, or on a trip to Orlando, we saw Orlando City at the Citrus bowl. If I was by a pro Soccer team, I would see the match. The climax for me, is when my wife went to Scotland and England and saw a few matches. I was hooked after that trip and knew I had to bring this amazing experience of watching good soccer live, to the people of Arizona. From that moment on, I started figuring out how to make it happen and FC Arizona is the result of that. I did research for a couple years. And I am lucky that we have a great team of people involved, who I am very proud of. So, we are excited to bring this to the people, so they can experience it themselves and have a Hometown team to cheer for.
What did the process of joining the National Premier Soccer League look like? Was that a complicated thing, or are they really easy to work with?
I think the NPSL has raised the bar for quality, especially with the involvement of the NASL, having their reserve team in the NPSL. So, the process is what I expected. I planned for it and we had a solid business plan. The league has given us some Market exclusiveness, that we wanted and like, so we build a solid fan base in our area. We plan on planting our flag for the long term in the East Valley.
You've really been emphasizing being in the Valley in your marketing. Is there a reason you're focusing your efforts in that direction from a marketing standpoint?
Our stadium is located in the East Valley, East suburbs of Phoenix, so obviously our primary Marketing efforts are in this part of the state. But we choose FC Arizona for good reason, so we could be a team for the whole state to be proud of and to get behind and call their own. We do have plans next summer after the NPSL season is over to play 3 exhibition games in Northern Arizona where the weather is cooler in the Summer. In the cities of Prescott, Flagstaff and Show Low and build our fan base and have a statewide focus. Thus the name FC Arizona.
Some teams in the NPSL are professional, and others are actually paying their players. You've been very vocal about being a pro team. Why not go the amateur route?
We choose to go Professional and to have some forms of player payment. We looked at the 2 options and found this was the best for us. Underclassmen College players aren't available until May anyways. So that was the biggest factor for me. It was less restrictive for what we wanted to do.
Which division of the NPSL will you be playing in come 2017?
We will be playing the Southwest Division and plan on having 4 exhibition games before we get into our Regular season. I foresee us having rivalry games with the San Diego teams. The people of Arizona spend a lot of time San Diego going to places like Mission Beach and Orange county beaches in the summer months, so I expect, we will have a nice Home crowd out there and we plan on traveling well.
It looks like you've been getting a really solid response from the community after the team announcement. Has the positive response been more then you expected from people in the East Valley?
We are getting an amazing response from the community so far. Our August launch party had a lot of excitement and we haven't stopped since then. We are getting out everyday and doing things in the community, and we will step up that effort in the coming months. Connecting to the community in a real way.
Where are you hoping to see the team after one year and five years, and what are a few of your steps to get to those goals?
5 year goal, we really hope to have been in the NASL for 2 or 3 seasons by then, keeping the NPSL team for development, etc. I decided the NPSL's connection to the NASL was important. Never really considered the UPSL. Although I'm sure that it has it's place in some markets, it wasn't for us. We do have very big plans. But, first things first. Year Number 1 must be done right.