Passionate for the Game of Soccer
From 1989 to 1998, Yan Skwara was a licensed Investment Banker working for several Investment firms including AG Edwards and Whale Securities on Wall Street in New York City. In 1998, Skwara’s passion for the game of soccer moved his entrepreneur spirit as he made the decision to leave Corporate America and pursue establishing a private sports marketing company; focused on game he loved – soccer.
Over the years, Skwara has founded several soccer related brands including the San Diego Flash, the 90:00 Minutes Soccer Magazines, and San Diego Boca FC and 90:00 Minutes Soccer Magazines.
SoccerToday News Editor-in-Chief Diane Scavuzzo interviewed Yan Skwara on his passion for the beautiful game and his work growing the UPSL.
Diane Scavuzzo: The United Premier Soccer League has been growing significantly in Southern California. How many men’s soccer teams does UPSL have competing today?
Yan Skwara: Today the UPSL is set at over thirty teams for the upcoming 2015 Spring Summer Season. We are targeting over 40 teams for our winter season.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why is UPSL so successful?
Yan Skwara: The UPSL is growing today because of our league standards and budget levels which make sense. Our UPSL team owners are attracted to our approach to soccer in America.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are your goals for UPSL next year?
Yan Skwara: Local travel is a major key to our growth. We are expanding into the state of Nevada and Arizona and filing our application with USASA for a Division 4 status.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does the UPSL season differ from the MLS’ season?
Yan Skwara: We have two seasons so we can keep teams and players moving for 10 months and we believe this is key to maintaining players development and the game moving in the right direction.
The Spring/Summer Season is May to August and the Winter/Fall season is October to April.
Diane Scavuzzo: As Head Coach the LA Wolves FC playing in the UPSL, what do you look for in a players when selecting your roster?
Yan Skwara: I want dynamic players who are passionate for the game. I like to pursue players who have professional aspirations as we are a pro development league.
Diane Scavuzzo: The grooming of a Home Grown player who makes it professional – what does it take?
Yan Skwara: Successfully grooming home grown players in America is critical as our players have many more options in different sports. A good athlete has many open doors in our country, whereas in Europe or South America, futbol is a way of life and kicking a ball is the desire of every young player.
Most youth soccer players today in the USA do not enter into the college or professional soccer level with the same mentality and dedication that their counterparts from European and South American. Players abroad pick up a more serious focus in their respective futbol programs than our American players and this needs to change for our country to be more successful competing on the world stage.
Diane Scavuzzo: You are a former player – when did you played soccer?
Yan Skwara: I started playing competitive soccer when I was 10 years old. I trained and played for a very successful youth club based in Culver City, California. The soccer club was called Culver Pali and they were a McGuire Cup finalist.
I attended California State University of Los Angeles in the early 80’s and played left midfielder. The MLS was not in existence at the time — so if a player wanted to play pro, going overseas was the only option, which is what I did. I traveled to Germany where I played professionally in the mid 80’s for Helene Essen.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is your most memorable soccer moment?
Yan Skwara: Scoring the only goal in the CIF 4-A High School Championships.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your greatest challenge?
Yan Skwara: Any start up organization has its ups and downs, getting through that first couple years is always the biggest barrier. The UPSL has been a league for four years, so we are now starting to reep the fruits of our labor.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could change one thing in soccer in America, what would it be?
Yan Skwara: I would like to see more local soccer fields with the proper fields/locker rooms and clubhouses for youth players and their families to help them gravitate and grow with the sport.
And, I would like to see Promotion Relegation in America. It is the core of the world’s soccer system and how to run a professional/amateur league –and, we are very behind doing what we can do to develop the promotion relation table.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think that soccer will ever become more popular than football in America?
Yan Skwara: Soccer has become increasingly popular in our country and I believe soccer will become very big in the future. It will take time, but the seed have been planted and they are starting to sprout for all our benefit.
United Premier Soccer League 2014-2015