ECNL INDIANA: A WEEKEND FULL OF MEMORIES
This weekend, ECNL players from around the country traveled to the Midwest for the opportunity to experience an ECNL National Event. ECNL Indiana featured 88 teams from 28 ECNL clubs competing across three days in highly entertaining and exciting action.
“We cherish these opportunities to just be in this environment and get motivated by this environment and by the competition,” said Minnesota Thunder head coach Mark Abboud.
With the club’s location in Minnesota, Abboud explained it often requires long trips to find quality competition for his players and coming to an event like this for a weekend full of it is a huge benefit to his team.
“I think what helps about these ECNL National Events, and the way that they do the pairing against like-seeded teams from other conferences, it basically ensures us quality games,” Abboud said. “Especially when our fall league schedule is very light, an event like this is terrific.”
Cleveland Force Director, Everett Palache, described the weekend as a great experience for his players while also echoing the sentiments about how important the level of competition over the weekend was.
“The players’ experience has been fantastic, and the level of competition has been just what you want,” Palache said. “We’re getting levels of games that are allowing each of the kids to grow.”
Getting younger players out to National Events and having them gain experience that they can draw on while moving forward in their careers is also valuable for clubs. Richmond United head coach, Kimmy Cummings, spoke to how this event was able to help her team gain some of that experience.
“I think the biggest thing that we’ve seen is that events like this prepare them for when we go to the playoffs or finals,” Cummings said. “Having been to events like this at the younger age groups, it’s less of a shock when they get there. They’re not used to seeing this many fans out here, the environment, the atmosphere, and so really what it comes down to is just exposing them to high level talent at young age groups, so that when they go to events that have some older age groups it’s not as much of a shellshock when they’ve been to something like this.”
This weekend’s event also provided a unique experience for Kansas City Scott Gallagher SC, a club competing in the ECNL Regional League. Nac Neuendorf, Assistant Director at KCSG SC, believes her players will only benefit from having a weekend to compete at the club competition level.
“There’s opportunities for them now to go back into their conference in the Regional League and hopefully display some of the stuff they either saw from their opponent, or what they brought out of themselves from having to compete at a higher level.”
For Dean Blain, Girls U12-U14 Director at Tennessee SC, ECNL Indiana was also a chance for his team to experience an ECNL National Event for the first time.
“This is their first experience at an ECNL event, so coming in there were a lot of questions and nerves about what they were going to experience,” Blain said. “The nerves disappeared very quickly. Their experiences have been nothing but positive.”
“They leave the field win, lose or draw with a smile on their face because they’ve seen new competition, they’ve made new friends, and the environment is something that has a positive impact on all the players.”