Arsenal has made an increasing commitment to the American market in recent years. The club toured the United States for the first time in almost 25 years in 2013 and has notably increased its marketing presence recently. Stan Kroenke, the club’s American owner, and Ivan Gazidis, the club’s chief executive, both have extensive knowledge and understanding of the US market.
At the recently completed NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, David Evans — the Executive Director of Arsenal Soccer Schools USA — was making the rounds and World Soccer Talk had an opportunity to sit down with him.
The club has opted not to compete in the market of Academy’s like some other European giants and instead has focused on week-long summer camps at multiple locations on the East Coast. The youngsters chosen for these camps will have the opportunity to spend quality time with Arsenal coaches from London – one coach will be assigned to every 12 players, making the Arsenal camps fundamentally different than similar operations run by the likes of AC Milan and Barcelona.
Much has been made through the years of The Arsenal Way, which is of course really the “Wenger way.” Evans indicated that every participant in the camp will be taught to play the same way with the drills and tactics coming directly from Arsenal coaches.
Arsenal has partnered with Summerfuel who has 30 years of experience working with High School students on career oriented activities. The link-up with Arsenal was attractive to Summerfuel for multiple reasons, but the compatibility of brands and values was critical.
Evans stressed that this project is not competition for the local soccer academies and that Arsenal will be working with the top academies along the East Coast to identify individual players for the program. Players accepted to the program will have an opportunity to advance both technically and tactically, helping the academies or clubs they are part of improve during the 2015-16 youth or High School season.
Arsenal has made a five-year commitment to grow this program. In time, the Gunners hope to establish presence in other parts of the country but for now the camps are limited to the Northeast and Florida.
Puma, Arsenal’s new kit and apparel provider, have been very supportive of this effort, Evans told World Soccer Talk. “Puma understands the total club concept and has been very helpful in spreading the Arsenal brand,” he stated.
Evans reiterated the importance of the Arsenal brand in these camps. “We are conscious of the Arsenal name and the need to create an authentic Arsenal product.”