The Advocate For Youth Soccer
Commanding attention with humility, intelligence and honesty, Chris Moore is soccer’s new kind of leader. An advocate for all levels of youth soccer, Moore has championed kids his entire career. Moore’s leadership helped lead GENYOUth’s Fuel up to Play 60 program in partnership with the National Football League and National Dairy Council to reach over 38 million kids in 73,000 schools. Now immersed in the world of youth soccer as the Chief Executive Officer of US Youth Soccer since the beginning of this year, Moore has become a trailblazer, recognized for his combination of eloquence, candor and determination.
Chris Moore, recently named as the first CEO of US Youth Soccer, is passionately committed to paving the path to improving youth soccer – a game he believes can be played by every kid in America. Totally aware of the ever changing landscape of youth soccer in America, Moore intrinsically understands the diverse roles of volunteers and capitalism – the divergent backdrop of youth soccer in the USA.
US Youth Soccer is the largest youth sports organization in the United States, and the largest member of the US Soccer Federation. And, as its leader, Moore sees the opportunity to do a lot of good.
Related Article: US YOUTH SOCCER WELCOMES CHRISTOPHER MOORE
Moore effuses the true essence of soccer – a game that is played in every corner of the world and — probably — by more people than all the other sport combined.
Soccer, a humbling game, is what I call the great equalizer. In its purest form, soccer is open to all kids regardless of age, size, shape, race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Moore came to US Youth Soccer after serving as President and COO of GENYOUth, a non-profit in partnership with the NFL, National Dairy Council and three government agencies: US Department of Agriculture, Health & Human Services and Education. Its mission? In a nutshell – to help kids be healthier. Fuel Up to Play 60’s very effective campaign was to encourage kids to eat healthier and engage in fun, safe play for 60 minutes per day and GENYOUth is a huge success.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is such a powerful social marketing platform for America’s youth health and wellness that it’s been recognized by the First Lady of the United States’ and joined with her signature Let’s Move! Campaign, in which Moore partnered with the White House to promote the joint goals of fighting childhood obesity. Responsible for generating awareness and partner/sponsor funding for GENYOUth’s flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, the program reached 73,000 schools touching more than 38 million kids.
Moore’s toughest job may be his current role as CEO of US Youth Soccer and the fifty-five youth soccer state associations which roll up to the massive organization.
SoccerToday spoke with Moore to discover his thoughts on youth soccer in America.
Diane Scavuzzo: Youth soccer in America is growing rapidly. How does US Youth Soccer fit into the landscape of youth soccer? How do you see your role?
Chris Moore: I take the enormous responsibility that I have leading the nation’s largest youth sports organization very seriously.
I also look forward to deepening the relationship with U.S. Soccer, our national governing body, by continuing to fill the pipeline of US Youth Soccer players and coaches to the National Team while adding our insights on the youth marketplace.
US Youth Soccer helped to create the soccer landscape that currently exists by offering kids all sorts of exciting programs nationally, regionally and at the state level. US Youth Soccer boasts a 40-year legacy of proudly serving 70 million+ youth players through our 55 diverse member State Associations.
Our mantra, “The Game for All Kids” isn’t merely a tagline; it’s a reality.
From our numerous recreational level players to those aspiring to the U.S. National Team, US Youth Soccer offers kids access to play, develop and grow within the sport through unparalleled programs like: the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, National League, Presidents Cup, TOPSoccer®, Kohl’s American Cup and the National Championship Series.
Each and every year, US Youth Soccer and our 55 State Associations deliver unique programs to more than 3 million players in addition to countless coaches, team representatives, referees, administrators, parents and family members, making us the undisputed leader in all of youth sports.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why did you take on the responsibility of CEO?
Chris Moore: I took on this new role at US Youth Soccer because of the millions of kids that we reach and the profound impact that soccer plays in their everyday lives. I am a parent of two young boys who play soccer and other sports and, as such, I’m a huge advocate for youth health and wellness. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at the nexus of marketing, business development, nonprofits and youth sports, and have been privileged to collaborate with some of the leading brands and brand marketers in the country, including the National Football League, on programs that engage and empower kids through nutrition, sports and physical activity.
I was attracted to the powerful mission of US Youth Soccer, “To foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of America’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.”
To state the obvious, I took this assignment because I believe that we can grow youth soccer in America. I’m not referring to mere changes in market share, but growing the sport as a whole. But, that’s only one part of the story. I believe that US Youth Soccer is not only in the soccer business; we’re also in the youth empowerment, nurturing, health and wellness, and player development business as well. Our programs, both recreationally and competitively, offer kids far more than just access to the sport.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the role of a coach in youth soccer today?
Chris Moore: Good coaching involves having good communication skills, both in terms of delivering and receiving information. A youth coach needs to be a good communicator, first with the parents of the players, and then with the players. The first line of communication really should be the coach to the player, but given the over-engagement of the modern parent in children’s sports, the relationship between the coach and parents is a key to success for everyone.
Secondly, I believe that good coaches put the child at the center of everything; they not only educate players on the fundamentals of soccer, but they help kids develop the self-confidence, character, discipline, and self-motivation for life. In the final analysis, the number of wins and losses shouldn’t matter as much to a coach as setting standards for success and, in turn, allowing kids to set realistic, achievable goals for themselves so that they’ll have the inner drive to succeed and win. That’s what it’s all about.
Diane Scavuzzo: The impact of the soccer sideline. What needs to change to improve the game?
Chris Moore: As a parent and former coach, I’ve experienced firsthand what occurs on the sidelines or in the stands at youth sports games. While they mean well, some parents — and coaches — mistakenly instill in kids a winning-at-all-cost attitude.
It’s okay for parents to want to win, and for them to want their kids to be competitive and win. However, there are other facets of the game that are equally as important as winning.
I once had a coach tell my son, who was 9 years old at the time, that he “cost us the game.”
I’ll never forget how my son went to bed that night crying and staring at the ceiling reflecting how he had let his team down. Parents need to know that the game is for the kids to enjoy. Youth soccer should be all about fun and enjoyment. We as adults need to give kids a healthy, active way to enjoy the sport while using the game of soccer as a teaching tool about life. The kids deserve the best that we can give them, and we have an obligation do our best.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals for US Youth Soccer?
Chris Moore: My overarching goal is for US Youth Soccer to grow. Period. That’s why I was hired, and that’s why I chose to accept the challenge.
Like any business, if you’re not growing and producing the results that your owners or shareholders expect, then you’re not meeting the challenge.
Youth sports are an increasingly competitive marketplace, stagnancy or merely “keeping our heads above water” is neither sustainable nor an option. Therefore, I’m focused on how to grow US Youth Soccer and create greater opportunities for America’s youth to learn, develop and love the game of soccer.
Now, growth means different things to different organizations or industries. Here’s how I am defining growth:
1. Increasing participation. While I’m excited that US Youth Soccer experienced a 9% increase (or more than 250,000 players) in membership over the past year (2013-2014), current market trend data indicates that participation in sports may be declining. We need to continue to build momentum by attracting new members while retaining existing ones.
2. Player Safety. Ensuring the safest playing environment for youth players and their families is paramount. As such, if US Youth Soccer and our members continue to do everything in our power to keep the players safe, parents will continue to register their children to play with us.
3. Our Image. To grow our registration, we must brand ourselves and ensure that clubs, players, coaches, parents, and everyone else in the value chain knows that they ladder up to the national program and the national brand called US Youth Soccer. What’s more, as a member services organization, we need to provide the tools and resources to our State Associations so that they can, in turn, better market themselves to their members.
4. Enhanced Sponsorships and Partnerships. Our current roster of sponsors is truly exemplary. We will continue to build and attract like-minded sponsors who share our passion for the game, and are willing to invest in our events and programs. We will also continue to work with our States to establish local partners who invest in greater local programming. In addition to sponsors, we continue to explore [non-monetary] partnerships with third-party organizations and reputable non-profits and 501c3’s who share our mission and who can help enhance our ability to impact the youth sports marketplace.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Chris Moore: There are many opportunities to affect change and impact the engagement of kids through the sport of soccer.
Quite honestly, my biggest challenge, thus far, has been narrowing the organization’s focus on a few core initiatives that will yield the greatest results. Our Association has been engaged in the development and execution of programs and events that impact recreational, elite level players and those with disabilities. Perhaps, I don’t view these as challenges, rather as opportunities.
Diane Scavuzzo: Are the needs of the 55 State Associations different? If so why?
Chris Moore: Our 55 State Associations are diverse, independent business professionals who all share a unique history in the game. Yes, while they are all autonomous entities, ultimately our 55 State Association members want the same thing: new and innovative ways to grow the game, and an efficient, responsive, high-performing national organization that is nimble and addresses the evolving needs of our diverse membership. So, while a one-size-fits-all approach may not work in every instance, there are situations which dictate operating as one cohesive organization that speaks with one voice.
Our structure is unique; our states are inventive, but on matters of national significance, our members know that they are a part of something much bigger than their state borders. US Youth Soccer is poised to leverage our scale and infrastructure in the soccer marketplace because we have such a strong, diverse group of members at the State Association level.
I have a responsibility to helping our States grow – as their growth is inextricably tied to the growth of the game in America.
Chris Moore: The fact that soccer is transformative and game-changing and a metaphor for life. At a very early age, literally after they learned to walk for the first time, my kids began kicking a soccer ball. I’ll never forget the first time my son, 4 years old at the time, scored his first goal. His confidence was off the charts. The game taught them important lessons about teamwork, collaboration, discipline, hard work and endurance – all building blocks for life.
With a ball and a safe, open surface to play, any kid can have fun running up and down a field kicking and passing the ball or simply be with friends. The other reason I love being part of soccer is that it makes me feel as though I’m part of an international community. Soccer is global and universally revered, and that’s very gratifying and humbling.
Many people have asked why American soccer isn’t there yet … and many people think it is the youth game that needs to be improved first. Moore is the man with the heart, experience and intelligence to make it the world’s beautiful game grow in a heathy direction — with leadership to unite those who wish to make soccer truly “The Game for All Kids.”