I have dedicated a page to my soccer experience because the game is one of my greatest passions. I have been playing it for as long as I can remember. And over the years I have volunteered as a coach and a ref in various youth soccer programs. So it was only a matter of time before the game I love eventually crossed paths with the profession I chose.
In 1994, I took a leave of absence from my job at public relations agency Creamer Dickson Basford to serve as the Director of Corporate Communications for International Sports Publishing’s ’94 Cup Daily. This was a daily newspaper dedicated to covering FIFA’s 1994 World Cup soccer tournament, and my role was more akin to that of a Director of Marketing in that I oversaw advertising, public relations, collateral, and even some grassroots marketing.
The company, like the publication, did not last beyond the tournament, but I returned to my job having gained some valuable experience and learned a number of useful lessons. For example, it was my first experience working in-house, which helped me better understand the challenges my clients face internally, as well as my first time working with a start-up, which proved beneficial when I started up a West Coast office for Creamer Dickson Basford.
Years later, in 2007, I signed on as the Marketing Director at Asphalt Green, a nonprofit sports and fitness organization on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where my nephews, brother, and I played soccer. As I quickly learned, there is a lot more to Asphalt Green than soccer, though promoting the game – particularly among kids in nearby underserved communities like East Harlem – remained my inspiration while working there.
I left Asphalt Green in 2010 to attend the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. I was already a veteran blogger at that point, but friends and colleagues encouraged me to start a blog to share this particular adventure, especially since it was my fifth World Cup. That blog quickly evolved into Total Footblog, a surprisingly respected online soccer magazine (surprising to me, but I was at a New York City soccer event in January 2018 when someone recognized my name and began talking about some of the articles I had published more than five years earlier, so clearly my work had an impact).
As the sole researcher, writer, editor, and webmaster of Total Footblog, I published an average of 20,000 words of original content each month. Rather than report about what happened on the pitch, which the mainstream soccer media did a sufficient job of covering, I opted to write about the stories behind the game, from youth soccer development to organizations using the sport to advance social change. And while working as a soccer journalist, I had the pleasure of building connections throughout the New York City soccer community and beyond.
However, I was not able to effectively monetize the online publication, which wasn’t surprising given that many long-time publications were cutting staff or closing-up shop entirely at that point. As a result, I decided to hang up my journalism boots at the end of 2012, to dedicate more time to my freelance marketing communications and copywriting work.
Old passions die hard, though, and I once again chronicled my World Cup adventures in Total Futeblog, a more traditional blog I created for the Brazil 2014 tournament (and again, to my surprise, American soccer fans who had been reading my blog while travelling around Brazil showed up at a beach bar south of Natal to say hello and let me know that they enjoyed my work).
This foray into soccer journalism was a fantastic experience for me. It helped me better understand the world of journalism, and thereby strengthen my media relations expertise. It also helped improve both my digital communications and content marketing skills – and social media, in particular. And it provided me with a broader and deeper understanding of soccer in New York City and the United States.
The experience also reinforced my desire to continue working in soccer at some level in the future. As a seasoned marketing communications professional who also has an in-depth knowledge of the game, I hope that someday I will find such an opportunity – so that I can use the skills I have amassed over the past three decades to support the game I have loved for a lifetime.