Fuel Soccer Talk: Get to know rising star Rachel Jones; US Youth Soccer focuses on relationships; Flynn was the perfect choice to run U.S. Soccer Federation

US Youth Soccer: Q&A with UNC commit Rachel Jones

North Carolina commit Rachel Jones has built many relationships through soccer while playing for her club, US Youth Soccer ODP and U.S. Youth National Teams. Jones and Tophat 18 Gold (GA) won two US Youth Soccer National League division titles and claimed a US Youth Soccer Region III Championship in 2015. The forward is currently in the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team pool and has been part of several U.S. Youth National Teams and US Youth Soccer ODP squads in the past four years. She took some time to explain how soccer can help produce several lasting friendships.

What makes youth soccer such a good place to meet new friends?
Meeting friends through soccer is a completely different experience than meeting them at school. Soccer friends understand you on a different level than your school friends do because you spend so much time together and share a passion for the game.

How has soccer helped you make and keep strong friendships?
I’ve played soccer with every single person that I consider a close friend at some point in my life. Being on the field and fighting for a common goal brought me and my friends together in an amazing way.


More from US Youth Soccer: Week 3 of Youth Soccer Month is about relationships

Growing up we can become the best of friends with those that we play soccer with. We grow together as we go through struggles and victories with our teammates. Beyond our teams soccer can bring the world together. With just a ball anyone can come together to enjoy the sport we all love. Friendships can be made as we share our experiences, trials and triumphs of the sport with others.
This week make sure you think about all the friendships soccer has helped you foster and make sure you reach out to someone new and make a new friend!

Make Your Own Ball Day starts off the week on September 17! The mission of Make Your Own Ball Day is to use a ball to help kids create, connect, give, appreciate, and play.  MYOBD promotes and supports the passions of kids for sport and uses soccer as a platform for change.
The steps are simple!

1. Make a ball
2. Donate a ball
3. Find friends
4. Play soccer

Learn more here!

Profile: Flynn proved to be the right person at the right time

If there was a person born to run the organization, then the U.S. Soccer Federation could not have found a better man than Dan Flynn. After all, he had soccer in his heart and had the brains and background of a businessman. Back in 2000, that was a rare combination in sports, especially for someone to ascend to executive director and CEO of the Federation.

During the past two decades Flynn has presided over unprecedented growth of the game in the U.S. as the U.S. Women’s National Team won consecutive FIFA World Cups, adding Youth National Team programs from Under-14 through U-20, establishing the Boys and Girls Development Academy and expanding U.S. Soccer’s reserves to $150 million with multi-million-dollar partnerships.

“Every big step that’s happened in the last 30 years of the game, Dan has been part of it in every way and in a leadership way,” Gulati said. “It’s not just the success of the organization financially, or in terms of management, it’s all parts of the game; the soccer part of it, the development part of it, the National Teams’ success, men and women, all of those things. He has been an absolutely vital leader and a critical leader in all those aspects.”

Hank Steinbrecher, who preceded Flynn in the position, echoed Gulati’s sentiments.

“I think it’s critical,” he said. “That position is a very, very unique one and for him to do for 20 years is incredible, because every day you’ve got to grapple with three dynamics and keep them in balance.”

Those were financial, political and sporting.

“You have to make decisions based on what’s best for the financial health of the organization,” Steinbrecher said. “You have to make decisions that are politically expedient because it is a not-for-profit organization and the president and board of directors have a great deal of sway in our country in soccer. The third, you’ve got to make decisions on the sport, on the technical aspects of the sport, on understanding it, on feeling it, on having a simpatico to the game. It’s very rare to be able to balance those three dynamics. And I don’t know anybody who has done it better than Dan.”


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