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Vaqueros Insider Interview with Academy Director Mark Snell

Part 3 of 3

The Vaqueros Academy will not be a pay to play model like the other clubs?

The pay to play club system basically does not exist in other countries other than in the US. To have access to all the top talented players, there can’t be any financial or economic barriers. The player should be judged on his talent and not his family’s ability to pay. Unfortunately, soccer has become a “rich man’s sport” in this country. How can a country with a population of over 325 million not produce world-class players? I felt very strongly going into this project that we could develop a unique business model that will allow the club to not charge the players. I commend owners Hitch and Brian Miller for their support and vision. Our shared goal is to have a free Academy that is one of the best in the US.

 

What is the business model you have developed that doesn’t charge the players?

Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park will be the home to our U7-U12 academy teams. The talented players that are selected will only pay for their uniform. The coaches, league fees, travel, etc. will be paid by the Vaqueros. The financial support for the Academy will come from operating adult/coed 7v7 leagues and tournaments on the weekends. The league will be called “Vaqueros LIGA 7”. We are also working on hosting a U10 International Youth Tournament in the future.

 

Can you tell us about your new state of the art facility Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park?

This is a partnership between the City of Fort Worth and the Vaqueros. A lot of thought has gone into this field to ensure it is a world-class facility. I have been working on this project for almost two years. We are converting four underutilized tennis courts in Sycamore Park that were built in 1915 into one turf 7v7 field. Although the courts were very old, the concrete was in good condition and all the lights have been upgraded. After some minor concrete prep work was completed, a new 10-foot high chain link fence was installed around the field, new player benches, portable scoreboard, 3 sets of different size goals (for different academy ages), a shock/drainage pad over the concrete and new synthetic turf. Having done extensive research we chose Pure Play Sports Turf due to its unique design that has no rubber infill. The ball roll is just like grass and it is much cooler than traditional turf in the summer. It’s also very durable, requires less maintenance and far less abrasive. The field dimensions comply with the new US Soccer player development initiative. Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park was completed in May 2018. The address is 2400 East Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth 76104.

 

How can players get selected to join the Vaqueros Academy?

We will have Open Practices at Vaqueros Field. We will observe players in small sided games (3v3, 4v4 and 5v5) and select those players that we feel have the most potential. More details will be available soon on our website and social media accounts. You can also email or text me and I will send the details directly to you. The ages we will be looking for are birth years 2012, 2011, and 2010.

 

How many teams will the Vaqueros Academy form the first year?

We are looking for “quality” and not “quantity”. One team will be formed in each age group from U7 and older. Initially, we will start with U7, U8, and U9 and grow it by one team per year.

 

How does the Vaqueros Academy differ from other clubs?

We will have a unique Pre-Academy at the two youngest ages of U7 (2012) and U8 (2011). Players will practice 1-2 times per week and continue to play with their current teams. On Saturdays or Sundays, they will play in Vaqueros Academy LIGA, which is an in-house 3v3 and 4v4 league with small goals for Vaqueros players. We feel that this format is best for player development at the younger ages. It’s like our own street soccer league. Our Academy U7 and U8 players only purchase a Training Kit. The U9 and U10 teams will have 2 practices per week and play in the highest league against the best competition in Dallas. They will also play in Vaqueros Street LIGA 4v4 and 5v5 league using larger goals with goalkeepers. The U9 and U10 teams will purchase a Training and Uniform Kit.

 

Can you tell us more about Vaqueros Academy LIGA?

Vaqueros Academy LIGA is a development league for our U7-U10 players. The games range from 3v3 to small goals up to 5v5 plus goalkeepers to larger goals based on age. The idea is for the players to get lots of touches on the ball and play in a “winner stays on” competitive format. There are no goal kicks, corner kicks or throw-ins and out of bounds is flexible. When a ball is needed the coach kicks one in from the halfway line so there’s continuous play. Games are usually 3-4 minutes. I created this program when I was at FC Dallas and grew it from 5 teams to over 30 teams. The younger players really benefitted from playing in that environment.

 

What are your thoughts on futsal?

Futsal is a great development tool, especially for the younger ages. I have always taken my teams to a gym on the weekends during the winter to play 4v4 pick up using a futsal ball. We play a similar format to Vaqueros Academy LIGA, however, we use strict out of bounds. The heavier ball and the tight spaces make for a different experience. I plan to do this as well with our Vaqueros teams.

 

What happens when the players turn U13 and older?

We are in the planning stages of a complex with a small stadium, full-size field, a 7v7 field and futsal courts. Hitch has been in serious talks with landowners and developers in Fort Worth. So far things are moving in a positive direction. This will be home to our U13 and older teams.

 

The Youth Academy is a non-profit 501c3?

Yes, the Fort Worth Vaqueros Soccer Academy is a registered non-profit. There will be several ways to donate as well as sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested and want more information please contact Hitch at mhitchcock@playbookmanagement.com

 

Can you tell us more about opportunities for sponsors at Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park?

There will be several sponsorship opportunities: facility sponsor, 7v7 league sponsor and windscreen sponsors for individual businesses and organizations. Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park will have a new 10-foot high fence around the field. On three sides of the field, you will be able to purchase a professionally created 8’ high by 10’ wide full-color windscreen that will be seen by thousands of Fort Worth players and families every year. If you are interested and want more information please contact Hitch at mhitchcock@playbookmanagement.com

 

What will the typical weekly schedule look like at Vaqueros Field?

The Vaqueros Academy teams will practice year round from 5:00pm – 8:00pm Monday-Thursday, as well as Saturdays/Sundays in the afternoon in the Vaqueros Academy LIGA. Every Friday will be optional Academy player coordination training and 6:00pm – 8:00pm will be free community pick up. Adult league/tournament games will be all day Saturdays and Sundays. Wednesdays 8:30pm – 10:00pm will be $5 per player pick up. During the summer we will operate camps during the day. The Fort Worth Community Centers will be able to have field trips and play on the field as well as other activities in Sycamore Park. As you can tell, Vaqueros Field will be a busy place.

 

Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park will be open on Friday evenings for free community pick up?

Yes, it will be open every Friday 6:00pm – 8:00pm in the evening for anyone in the community to come and play pick up. Depending on the ages and number of players, we can have full field 7v7 games or have two 4v4 games going widthwise at the same time with smaller goals. Players only need to sign an online waiver.

 

Are you looking for any scouts or coaches?

We are looking for scouts in the Fort Worth area that can identify talented young players. We have several already but are always looking for more. We will also be looking for assistant coaches to learn our player development system in the future and eventually become a part of the Vaqueros coaching staff. Please contact me if interested: msnell@fortworthvaqueros.com or 214-642-3447

 

What leagues will the academy teams play in?

The U7 and U8 teams will play Vaqueros Academy LIGA on Saturdays/Sundays. The U9 and U10 teams will play in the new Texas Clubs Soccer League by U90C. When the teams reach the U12 age we will apply to play in the United States Soccer Developmental Academy (USSDA) league which is the highest level in the country. We would then travel and play against MLS and other top Academy teams.

 

Will the Vaqueros have Soccer Camps at the new facility?

Yes, we intend to have camps during the summer and possibly during the Holidays. Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park will be available for other camps to rent during the summer as well.

 

Can individuals and groups rent Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park?

Vaqueros Field at Sycamore Park will be available to rent for business staff outings, birthday parties, etc. Please contact me if interested: msnell@fortworthvaqueros.com or 214-642-3447

 

Are you and the Vaqueros Academy on social media?

Yes, we are. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and at the below Twitter accounts. You can find them all on www.fortworthvaqueros.com

 

Twitter

@ftworthvaqueros

@vaquerosacademy

@vaquerosLIGA7

@marksnellfutbol

 

Thanks for your time and good luck with the Academy.

 

Thanks!

 

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