SOCCER NATION EXPO 2012 WOWS THE CROWDS!
11,000 Attendees Celebrate the Beautiful Game at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Feb. 25-26
Thursday, March 1, 2012 (Los Angeles, CA) - Over 11,000 soccer-mad attendees poured through the doors of the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend to share in the celebration of "the beautiful game" at Soccer Nation Expo 2012. Held annually by Cal South, the official state association for youth and adult soccer in Southern California, the 2012 edition of Soccer Nation Expo took place in the South Hall of the LACC on February 25-26.
Visitors to the show had a chance to visit with and get autographs from many famous soccer stars such as Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Tisha Venturini-Hoch, retired MLS and U.S. Men's National team star Clint Mathis, former U.S. Women's National Team star Leslie Osborne, U.S. Men's National Team icon Paul Caligiuri, and Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year and All-Star defender Omar Gonzalez of the LA Galaxy.
Highlights of Soccer Nation Expo 2012 included the many large, interactive areas where the soccer public could participate in numerous soccer-related activities organized by many of Cal South's partners and sponsors and other exhibitors. The LA Galaxy and Chivas USA each had miniature soccer stadiums set up on the floor where players could sign up and take part in 3v3 competitions and other games. Cal South teamed up with partner Kohl's to present free recreational coaching clinics, which were taught by staff from Cal South's coaching education department.
Nike hosted an area featuring their Elite 2.0 Tour, built to test the outer limits of a player's skills to develop them further. Sports Authority had their SKLZ team on hand to show visitors how to step up their training. A constantly popular area at the last three Soccer Nation Expos was the Futboleros Ultimate Soccer Arena, where crowds were not only entertained by the Futboleros soccer juggling troupe, but also got to participate in speedy 2v2 games inside a small circular cage. Players at the show also had a lot of fun taking on The Mule, a catapult-like ball-kicking system which fired a soccer ball through the air at a great distance, which each player would then have to control properly before scoring a goal.
Soccer Nation Expo 2012 was free to the general public, but there were also a large number of participants who attended the show to take advantage of the coaching clinics which were held upon the expo's visual centerpiece, the AstroTurf VIP Coach Pitch. A full 180 feet long and 115 feet wide, the massive indoor field featured exclusive clinic seating accessible only to purchasers of the VIP Coach Pass package. Purchase of a pass also gained each buyer exclusive access into various classroom coaching sessions in the meeting rooms in the hall above the show floor. Living up to the high standard set at previous Soccer Nation Expos, the list of world-class clinicians and speakers for the 2012 Expo included:
• Dan Ashworth - Sporting and Technical Director of West Bromwich Albion
• Ian Barker - NSCAA Director of Coaching
• Dave Chesler - Director of Coaching for U.S. Soccer Federation
• Tony DiCicco - former U.S. Women's National Team coach (1999 World Cup & 1996 Olympic gold medal)
• Marco Garcés - Director of Performance Analysis for C.F. Pachuca & former Mexican National player
• Les Howie - Head of Grassroots Coaching for the Football Association (FA)
• Craig Harrington - LA Galaxy Academy Coach
• Tony McCallum - FA Regional Coach Development Manager
• Klaus Pabst - Director of Coaching for FC Cologne, Germany
• James Parry - Fulham FC scout & former Liverpool FC Youth Academy coach/scout
• Rick Parry - former Chief Executive of English Premier League & Liverpool FC
• Sam Snow - Director of Coaching US Youth Soccer
For the more shopping-minded, Soccer Nation Expo 2012 also featured over 100 exhibitor booths available at the event, featuring a wide variety of chiefly soccer and sports-related products, gear and equipment, food and drinks sampling, and other consumer goods and services. Ford had an impressive vehicle exhibit which included special games and docking stations for the more social media savvy in the crowd. Wells Fargo had an exhibit that featured photo opportunities aboard one of their antique stagecoaches. McDonald's sampled smoothies to the crowd and featured appearances by Ronald McDonald (clad, naturally, in full soccer regalia) for the kids.
In addition to the coaching classroom sessions in the upstairs hall, Soccer Nation Expo also served as the home of a number of other administrative soccer meetings, including the Cal South State Referee Committee Symposium, a special U.S. Soccer presentation featuring their Director of Coaching Dave Chesler, college recruiting classes taught by NCSA (National Collegiate Scouting Association), a Wells Fargo presentation on concussion prevention, a special luncheon for all Cal South affiliate member presidents, and field development and grant making courses presented by the Cal South Soccer Foundation. On Sunday, February 26, Cal South held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Annual Business Meeting (ABM).
Also occurring during Soccer Nation Expo 2012 was the Cal South Awards Banquet, held in the Platinum Ballroom of the JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. Live on Saturday night, February 25. Over 35 awards and honors were given out during the night's festivities, which included the naming of Cal South alumnus and World Cup champion Carin Jennings-Gabarra to the Cal South Hall of Fame. [For a full story about the Awards Banquet and a list of winners, please click here.]
Cal South has already secured the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center for the 2013 edition of Soccer Nation Expo, which will be held next February 16 and 17. Future news and details about Soccer Nation Expo 2013 will be announced in the coming months on both www.calsouth.com and www.soccernationexpo.com.