From a national championship with UCLA in 1990 to winning the Hermann Trophy as the nation's best collegiate soccer player in 1993, Brad Friedel left a lasting mark on collegiate soccer. As a pro, Friedel participated in three World Cups and was the first American named Goalkeeper of the Year by the Professional Footballers' Association. Having competed on the U.S. Men's National Team since 1992, and having played professionally in Europe since 1995, Friedel has truly experienced the world's game on all its stages.
Exposure to international football led Friedel to conclude that U.S. soccer programs are deficient. To address this, he is bringing America its first European-style soccer school for youth developmentthe Premier Soccer Academy (PSA). In conducting annual summer camps near his home in Cleveland since 2003, Friedel has been teaching soccer fundamentals to the future of U.S. soccer while simultaneously scouting for PSA's inaugural class of full-time students.
PSA is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007. Following the groundbreaking in Nov. 2005, Friedel was excited to reveal his goals and motivations for creating this Training Space.
STACK: When did you start to consider becoming a soccer pro?
FRIEDEL: When I went to college I started thinking about it, because UCLA was sort of like a soccer factory. Quite a few players I played with ended up in the Olympics and World Cup with the National Team.
STACK: What's been the best part about playing internationally for so many years?
FRIEDEL: Being able to go to different countries and learn different cultures and languages. That broadens you as a person and as a player, more so than just playing the game itself.
STACK: How did your international experiences impact your decision to start the Premier Soccer Academy?
FRIEDEL: That's actually one of the reasons why I am doing it. We're trying to build the academy to have an international flavor. Yes, we're going to have a lot of American kids. But we're also going to have kids from abroad. Mix that with lots of trips abroad, and we're going to be developing not just young soccer players but young soccer minds. Hopefully, all our players are going to be socially and culturally diverse and learn different aspects of life that will better them as individuals as they get older.
STACK: What is the ultimate goal you hope the academy can achieve?
FRIEDEL: We want to make better soccer players of the athletes who come through our door at no cost to their parentsthat's the ultimate goal. The only costs we hope the parents will ever have to assume are minimal summer camp program costs. The players who take up residence with us in Ohio live free of charge.
STACK: And a secondary goal?
FRIEDEL: Our secondary goal is to enhance the way America's soccer youth are developed whether by us expanding to different states or by other people using our model but doing it themselves.
STACK: How many students or players do you hope to start with?
FRIEDEL: The first year we're looking to have between 18 and 25.
STACK: Will all students be on scholarship, or will there be spots available for paying students?
FRIEDEL: Well, both. We scout throughout the world. Most of the people we scout we invite to our summer program so we can see them as people. You know it's great that they're good soccer players, but we also want good people. So we like to see them up close at one of our academy events.
STACK: Do academy events take place only in Ohio?
FRIEDEL: Next year we are adding a week program in Los Angeles to our week program in Ohio. People from all over are going to be eligible for this, and it's going to be a long process finding and selecting our initial students. We're already three and a half years into it.
STACK: What unique features will the academy offer?
FRIEDEL: Everything. Everything will be unique, because it will be the first one built in the U.S. based on European models. It'll be the very first youth academy set up like it is, so the uniqueness of it will be everything. We will have a sports psychologist; we will have yoga; we will have massage therapists. It will be a professional environment for young players.
STACK: How can a soccer hopeful learn more about the academy?
FRIEDEL: Go to our website: www.premiersocceracademies.com. There is a "Contact us" link, and any questions will be answered as quickly as we get them.
STACK: Any final comments on what will set Premier Soccer Academy apart from current soccer programs?
FRIEDEL: As of right now, the main people involved in this are not taking any money. We've set up the PSA as a non-profit organization. We want to train players free of charge. Some parents might have to pay for the summer camp programs, but that will be the extent of it. It's going to cost us between $15,000 and $22,000 a year per player, but that is all scholarship money that will come from corporate sponsors.
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