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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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…).
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.
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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!
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.
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