featured, Football, Getting to Know You

Getting To Know You: Gotham Soccer League

24 Oct , 2016  

In our third ever Getting To Know You feature, we’re crossing the Atlantic! Grassroots soccer has been a fundamental part of the rise in popularity of the beautiful game in the USA. We spoke to Gotham Soccer League’s Commissioner Todd Jasko about the impact and importance of America’s amateur soccer leagues.

In recent years, there has been a sporting behemoth lying dormant within our friends in the States.

America’s ‘Big Four’ have traditionally always been American Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Ice Hockey, but Soccer is rapidly closing the gap to secure a place within America’s sporting elite.

MLS viewership has almost trebled in 2 years.

MLS viewership has almost trebled in 2 years.

The growth of Major League Soccer and the consistent success of the USA Women’s Team have both contributed to this increasing popularity, and with renowned players such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard & Andrea Pirlo now opting to ply their trade in the States, this too has helped to boost the number of fans attending stadia, playing soccer, or viewing on TV.

The USA Women's Team lift the 2015 on home soil.

The USA Women’s Team lift the 2015 on home soil.

However, without the hard-work, dedication and perseverance of the amateur soccer leagues throughout the country, Soccer wouldn’t even be on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream. Grassroots football has been instrumental in engaging the American public and getting them to play ‘the beautiful game’.

Earlier this year, Gotham Soccer League purchased several of our prized 16 x 7 Alu60 goals from our FORZA range, and we thought a little Q&A session with their VP/Commissioner  Todd Jasko regarding the MLS, grassroots soccer, and what the game means to them, would help us (and you) to understand the game’s booming popularity across the pond.

Hi Todd! Firstly, how is the League enjoying our FORZA Alu60 goals?

FORZA goals have been perfect for our league! We use them for small-sided games (7v7 and 8v8), so they are the perfect size. We have to move them before and after every game, so we love that they fold and transport easily. And they have taken some really hard shots without any damage. We’d definitely recommend them to other teams and leagues seeking new goals.

Our FORZA Alu60 Goals made it all the way to the Big Apple!

That’s great! So, can you tell us a little bit about the Gotham Soccer League and how it was started?

Gotham Soccer League was founded in 2006 because, at the time, there was no option for the serious soccer player who wanted to play real, 90-minute, 11v11 soccer during the week. Many young professionals, including our founder, didn’t want to give up their entire Sundays and have to travel far and wide to play the game in its purest form. Since then, the league has grown significantly, and we now offer men’s, women’s, and co-ed divisions from 7v7 through 11v11 in multiple cities in the United States.

Wow! You’ve come so far in such a short period of time. Can you tell me how many teams are in each league?

It’s hard to answer this because it varies by division and city, and the number is growing almost weekly. NYC is our largest location, and there are usually between 35-50 teams in Gotham New York. We offer different formats and levels of competition depending on the demand in each particular location. Some of our leagues are 7v7, some 8v8, some 9v9, and some are full 11v11 leagues. We also have men’s, women’s, and co-ed divisions.

Okay, so what’s your role within the league?

Officially, I’m the New York Commissioner, VP of Media, and a Co-Owner of Gotham Soccer League. Like most entrepreneurs and small business owners, my responsibilities vary greatly day-to-day. It’s always an adventure!

Very impressive! Why do you think the league has proved so successful?

We like to say that Gotham Soccer League is the recreational league that provides the professional experience. As we’ve grown the league, we have continually innovated and added features that no one else offers in a rec league. Our 4K HD game videos, professional photography, All-Star Games, and Champions League tournaments are completely unique to Gotham Soccer League.

Glen Cove FC & Unstoppable Athletics both enjoyed bursting our nets! (Not literally).

Glen Cove FC & Unstoppable Athletics both enjoyed bursting our nets! (Not literally).

So have you witnessed a greater demand for a soccer in America? Do you think it’s down to the increasing popularity of MLS or other leagues such as the Premier League & La Liga?

This is a great question. Soccer has come a long way in the US, but many of the biggest soccer fans prefer to watch European leagues because the players are the best in the world. I think that the amount of soccer available on US television and the success of our women’s national team both have contributed a lot to the growth of amateur leagues like Gotham.

As a Bat-fan, I’ve got to ask…why the name, Gotham?

The league was founded in New York City, and Gotham is a Batman-themed nod to our great city. There were other names in contention, but Gotham was the name that stuck!

Haha  possibly the coolest League name I’ve ever heard. So, did you ever play Soccer yourself?

I’ve played soccer since I was a toddler! I’m now 41 and have three reconstructed joints, but I’m still kickin’! We think the league offers a great product because we’ve built a league that we, ourselves, would enjoy. We’re all players (between surgeries, that is…).

Why is Soccer important to you? You must be very passionate to start your very own league.

Soccer is more than just a sport. Over the years, it’s become my exercise, my competition, my routine, and most importantly, my community of friends. Joining a soccer team in New York City was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I certainly wouldn’t run a league if I hadn’t taken that step.

Now THAT is how you take a penalty. #soccer #longisland #pk #penalty #pelanty #unstoppable #slowmotion #muriqifc

A video posted by Gotham Soccer League (@gothamsoccer) on

That’s very admirable of you, Todd! What advice would you give to players who are looking to join a team or start their own league?

Interested players should visit our website—we keep it updated with our current locations and league offerings. And if someone is looking to start a league, they’d be better off calling us—we’re hiring!

Well, I’ve always wanted to visit NYC…but finally, what does the future have in store for Gotham Amateur League?

In the last year, Gotham Soccer League has grown from one city and 20 teams to five cities and close to 100 teams. And we have plans to open locations in new cities in 2017 and beyond.

A big ‘thank you!’ to Todd and the Gotham Soccer League! It’s great to see Football, Soccer really take off not just in the MLS, but at that crucial grassroots stage where kids and adults can both play leisurely and competitively.

Do you have a grassroots program that you would like to shout about? Get in touch with us if you think we should ‘Get to Know’ your team, squad or league – we can show the world just how dedicated and passionate you are!

If you’d like to follow Gotham Soccer League, you can do so through their social media pages!

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