Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Atlanta: The Future Soccer Capital of the United States

Atlanta is set to become the epicenter of soccer in the United States, with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) unveiling plans to build its first-ever national training center in the city. This initiative positions Atlanta as a key player in the growth and development of the sport across the country. With the 2026 World Cup on the horizon and Atlanta as one of the host cities, this move has the potential to solidify Atlanta’s status as the driving force behind soccer in America.

soccer capital of the world

According to Kirk Bowman, director of Georgia Tech’s Vertically Integrated Project: Soccer, Community, Innovation, and Politics, Atlanta has the opportunity to cement its place as the soccer capital of not just the United States but all of North America. He sees the proposed national training center as the “cherry on the cake” that will elevate Atlanta’s status within the soccer community.

The passion for soccer in Atlanta is evident in the rise of Atlanta United, whose attendance figures in Major League Soccer have consistently been at the top. But it’s not just the numbers that make Atlanta stand out. The multicultural makeup of the crowds, with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and communities, including the hip-hop community, has given Atlanta a reputation as a hotbed for soccer fans. Atlanta is recognized worldwide for its soccer scene, even more so than for hosting the Olympic Games.

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The proposed training center will not only serve as a resource for the USSF’s 27 national teams but will also be a hub for youth tournaments, community conferences, and a gathering place for the entire soccer ecosystem.

Community Connection

Community engagement has been instrumental in the growth of soccer in Atlanta, dating back to the 1960s with the Atlanta Chiefs. Grassroots organizations, such as Soccer in the Streets and its Station Soccer program, have played a significant role in introducing the sport to new generations, especially in underrepresented communities. The construction of the training center presents an opportunity to further connect with these communities and provide additional resources and support to organizations that have already achieved success.

While soccer has experienced significant growth in the northern arc and within the city of Atlanta, there is still work to be done to engage communities south of I-20. The training center, with its enhanced visibility and resources, can help bridge this geographical gap and bring the sport to even more Atlantans.

It’s Atlanta! — Again

Atlanta’s proximity to the world’s busiest airport and a generous $50 million donation from Arthur Blank, the philanthropist and principal owner of Atlanta United, were key factors in attracting the USSF to the city. The donation will facilitate the construction of facilities for U.S. Soccer’s nine Extended National Teams, including support for the Cerebral Palsy, Deaf, and Power Soccer National Teams. Additionally, it will contribute to women’s youth national team camps and women’s coaching and mentorship initiatives across the nation.

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USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone expressed gratitude for the warm welcome from Atlanta Mayor and Georgia Tech alumnus Andre Dickens. Dickens, acknowledging Atlanta’s sports culture and specifically its passion for soccer, proclaimed that Atlanta is not just a soccer city but now the capital of soccer in the nation.

The completion of the national training center is expected to coincide with the 2026 World Cup, with the selected site set to be announced in January 2024.

FAQs

Q: When will the national training center be completed?
A: The national training center is expected to be completed in time for the 2026 World Cup, with the selected site announced in January 2024.

Q: What will the national training center offer besides resources for the national teams?
A: In addition to providing resources for the national teams, the training center will host youth tournaments, community conferences, and serve as a hub for the broader soccer ecosystem.

Q: How will the national training center benefit underrepresented communities?
A: The construction of the national training center presents an opportunity to engage underrepresented communities and introduce soccer to a new generation of Atlantans. The additional resources and support can bolster the success of existing organizations working in these communities.

Conclusion

With the USSF’s plans to build the national training center in Atlanta, the city is poised to become the soccer capital of the United States. The center will provide top-notch facilities for the national teams and serve as a catalyst for community engagement and the growth of soccer in underrepresented areas. Atlanta’s passion for the sport, combined with its multicultural and diverse fan base, makes it an ideal location for this ambitious project. As the countdown to the 2026 World Cup begins, Atlanta’s position as the soccer capital of the United States looks more promising than ever.

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