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2012 ISN Cup: A Success Story and History in the Making

The 2012 ISN Cup was a resounding success, promoting the game of soccer in the Midwest at no cost to parents, teams, or players.  The free elite soccer showcase, the only of its kind, featured youth soccer matches between teams from across Ohio and Pennsylvania and a WPSL exhibition game.

Keystone Soccer Academy of Hopewell, Pennsylvania won the 2012 ISN Cup thanks to a 2-1-0 record and a +7 goal differential.  The team was led by Salem’s own Julia Dundon, who scored a brace against United HS in their final game.

Challenger Crew Juniors, the Columbus Crew’s Northern Ohio affiliate, finished with a 1-0-2 record and a +1 goal differential.  Challenger was led by goalkeeper Caitlin Jakubek, who finished with team highs in saves and minutes played.  Jakubek is an incoming freshman at the University of Akron and is expected to challenge for the starting goalkeeper position vacated by the graduated Jeny Wolbert.

United HS and Minerva HS both finished with a 0-1-2 record.  Minerva HS keeper Raychel Blocher earned the 2012 ISN Cup MVP award after a solid weekend performance.

The highlight of the weekend was a 8-0 win for the Ohio Galaxies WPSL squad over an All-Star team of NE Ohio college and high school players.  A crowd of over 100 saw Stark County’s first women’s professional match and the first WPSL match ever played in NE Ohio. Several Stark County players, including former GlenOak striker McKensey Cross and Perry defender Adriana Cosentino, played in the game.

It was the final match of the 2012 WPSL season for the Galaxies, who finished with a 3-0-2 record. The Galaxies were the highest scoring team in the Midwest Conference, possessing a potent attack and a strong defensive backline.

Sponsors for the event included Mercy Medical Center Sports Medicine, AFC Rushden and Diamonds, Pelé Sports, Subside Sports, Old Carolina Barbeque, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Canton Stark County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Chick-fil-A at Westfield Belden Village Mall, Kishman’s IGA and Korrio.

Event Photos

ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio – May 2012

Soccer in the inner city represents a different world, a world that Matt Safar of Uniontown, Ohio knows very well. Safar, the head coach of Akron Garfield’s boys and girls soccer teams, has embraced the diversity of the beautiful game found there. His high school squads resemble the United Nations with players from Laos, Mexico, Palestine, Vietnam, and Japan participating in a program that has gone leaps and bounds under Safar’s expert tutelage.

“It has been the most unique experience that I ever had,” Safar declared. “We have people from all walks of life. We try to bring them together with a common goal. For many it is the one positive thing they have in life, something they cherish.”

Players from different religions and cultures coming together to play the world’s most popular sport is something quite special to see. It doesn’t matter if they are white, African-American, Muslim, or Buddhist, everyone feels welcome and accepted, joined by a common objective.

Many coaches would turn down a challenge of coaching in the inner city, but Safar never shies away from doing what is right when it comes to soccer. It is a special vocation, especially when you do it because you love the game. It certainly isn’t for the crowds as many games have only 2 or 3 spectators, but it is important to his players.

“For many, the last game they will ever play will be the last game of their senior season,” Safar concluded.  Safar is also active on the premier club side of the game, serving as the Girls Director of Coaching at Challenger Crew Juniors. The name states the obvious, that Challenger is an affiliate of the MLS Columbus Crew.

“The reason why I coach is to help players find something positive in life,” Safar continued. “Whether it is hope, friendship, skill, or confidence. I want them to have success, to see a smile.”

Educating players and parents is a big part of the coaching business. Safar points out that player development is a process, one that requires patience.

“If they stick with it, the sky is the limit,” Safar commented.

He is always looking for opportunities for his players, hoping they get more exposure. But he understands that the cost of premier soccer is prohibitive for many.

“It shouldn’t cost as much as it does today,” Safar said. “It should be inexpensive or even available at no cost.”

Having free soccer would make a difference in the game on a national level and would surely pay dividends for the national team programs in the long term. The academy concept has been mentioned as a solution to this issue and while Safar admits it is a great idea in principle, a lot of kids are still neglected and not seen.

“Until the emphasis is not on money and how we look,” Safar continued, “we will not reach the heart and soul of the sport.”

Safar believes the men’s national team is off to a good start under Jurgen Klinsmann, mainly because he has a style in mind and an idea of where he wants to be.

“As a country, we need to find our own identity and style,” Safar remarked. “In the past we have tried to copy someone else or try to play soccer like every other sport.”

Again he reminds us that it is a process and that we need to be patient and let Klinsmann collect results with time. It takes time to build a program with his own players; he needs time to scout, evaluate, and teach the next generation of American stars.

And those stars will have the challenge of facing off against the world’s best. Safar happens to be a big fan of the Brazilian national team. Their flair and confidence on the ball is well documented.

“Their transitional attack makes other teams look foolish,” Safar said. Players like Ronaldinho, Neymar, Ronaldo, Robinho, and Robert Carlos represent what is right in the South American game, a style that is all about maximizing potential on the ball.

“I tell my players that when they have the ball at their feet, they have complete control. They have what the defender wants.”

Just another lesson from an expert coach who has devoted his life to the beautiful game. It has been a life dedicated to helping his players reach their goals, whatever they may be. Thanks to coaches like Matt Safar and programs like Challenger and Akron Garfield, the sport is growing and thriving in NE Ohio.

Korrio understands it is your passion for coaching kids that drives you. We also know that the less time you spend dealing with administrative, communication and automation hassles, and the more time you spend on the field, the happier you’ll be. And because you play a crucial role in our children’s lives, we want you spending as much time as possible coaching our kids. Korrio offers a modern approach to coaching by allowing new ways to communicate and develop a community on and off the field. Congratulations to the ISN Star of Coaching this month!

Be sure to check out Korrio’s new “Parents Spring Soccer Season Survival Guide”.  It has excellent tips on how to prepare for tand thrive in the hectic spring season.

ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio – March 2012

Photo Credit: Sam Fahmi/Studio79

Getting coached by a legend is a special thing.  Former Columbus Crew defender Gino Padula certainly falls into the legend category, helping deliver an MLS Cup Championship to the Ohio capital.  That being just one of many accomplishments in a globetrotting career that saw him spend time in Spain, France, England, and his native Argentina.  Now he has hung up his boots as a player, switching his career to coaching youth soccer as co-director of the Schelotto & Padula Academy.  His partner and former teammate Guillermo Barros Schelotto is the other legend behind the venture, adding some star power to a soccer academy started from the ground up less than a year ago.

The pairing is a formidable duo on or off the field.  Padula points out that they both have a winning mentality and are fans of attacking soccer.

“We have a good relationship,” Padula commented.  “We see the game in the same way. We both love this country, this city.”

Padula’s teammates always knew he would end up as a coach.  He was very vocal on the field and was always the first to talk tactics. He enjoyed his 15+ years of professional experience, but knew the calling to be a coach was very strong.  He prepared himself for this new life, knowing that a coach worked long hours for a single goal.

“A coach wants to get the best out of every player,” the former QPR, Nottingham Forest, and Montpelier defender commented. “Everyone on a team is important.”

Padula is now involved in coaching all ages of youth, from age U-4 to U-18.  The obvious focus is player development and the fostering of skills, developing creativity that is so famous in the Argentinian game.  Padula is able to teach and coach in a low pressure environment, where players can grow their love of the game and become better players at the same time.  The focus on fitness, tactics, and technique means quality sessions where everyone can improve.

“You have to remember they are kids,” Padula continued. “They are here to have fun too.”

The goal for the academy is to help players get to the next level, whether that be high school soccer, the collegiate game, or even a career as a professional.  Padula has the global connections that will help his players get noticed.

The Columbus soccer community has embraced the S&P Academy as over 200 players flocked to the winter sessions.  The attention now turns to the spring season, the biggest show in Ohio club soccer, as even more players head to S&P.  Padula is quick to point out that honesty is the best policy at his academy. Parents and players appreciate this, always knowing where they stand with the staff and coaches.  They are also impressed that Padula and Schelotto actually coach the youth teams, unlike other pros that have turned to coaching.

“The S&P Academy will touch many young players’ lives,” S&P Academy coach Guillermo Zarate declared. “And I’m sure Gino will help them to reach their maximum potential in the game we love.”

The community also appreciates the charitable work of the academy.  Padula and Schelotto collected toys for patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital during the holidays after collecting for a local food bank earlier in the year.

“We’re not just playing soccer,” Padula concluded. “There are a lot of people that need help in this community.”

Gino Padula is setting a good example for players and coaches alike, serving as a role model for his work on and off the pitch. A great reason for him to be named the first “ISN Star of Coaching Presented by Korrio.”

Photo Credit: Sam Fahmi/Studio79

Korrio understands it is your passion for coaching kids that drives you. We also know that the less time you spend dealing with administrative, communication and automation hassles, and the more time you spend on the field, the happier you’ll be. And because you play a crucial role in our children’s lives, we want you spending as much time as possible coaching our kids. Korrio offers a modern approach to coaching by allowing new ways to communicate and develop a community on and off the field. Congratulations to the ISN Star of Coaching this month! 

ISN and Korrio Partner to Recognize the Best in the Youth Soccer Coaching Ranks

International Soccer Network, LLC (ISN) and Korrio are pleased to announce a new monthly feature on recognizing the work of outstanding youth soccer coaches.

The “ISN Stars of Coaching Presented by Korrio” will shine the spotlight on a North American youth soccer coach and tell the story of how they are helping players, families, and their club on and off the field.

“Youth soccer deserves more attention from the media,” ISN Editor Gary L. Moody, Jr. commented. “This monthly award allows exemplary coaches to get credit for all of their good work in pushing the beautiful game forward here in North America.”

Kristina O’Connell, VP of Marketing at Korrio, was quick to agree.

“Recognizing youth soccer coaches is as important as recognizing teachers,” O’Connell continued. “Their impact on our children can be life changing. At Korrio, players are the center of our universe and our goal is to reward players and coaches for their contributions to the sport. It’s a core part of what drives our business. Working with International Soccer Network on this new award extends a genuine appreciation to deserving role models.”

The Pelé Sports Fan Ambassador Club – January 2012

Pete and Tyler sharing some time in training

A bond between father and son is strong.  A bond that includes the beautiful game is even stronger.  Whether you are talking about Slavko Kljestan placing a ball in the crib of sons Gordon and Sacha or a local father sharing his love of the game with his teenage son, the story is one that needs to be told.

North Canton’s Pete and Tyler Walters are a special pair, a father and son that give it their all in all things soccer.  Tyler, a promising freshman goalkeeper at St.Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron (OH), spends countless hours every week honing his skills on the pitch.  At his side is his father, who does anything and everything to help his son get to the next level, collegiate soccer.

“He has always been there for me,” Tyler stated in an interview with “He supports me in everything I do. He says he’s my biggest fan.”

Pete started playing when he was 7. He stopped playing when he was 12 when his interest turned to baseball and hockey, two popular sports in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.  Pete returned to the beautiful game when his young son showed great talent at the sport at a young age.

“I was thrilled for him and supported him,” Pete added. “I told him that anything we do, we are going to do 110%.”

This rekindled Pete’s love for soccer and turned him into a student of the game: watching, reading, and focusing on all aspects of the sport.  As an adult, he had a greater appreciation for the game and turned his focus to tactics and formations and the next obvious step, coaching.

Within 3 years, Pete created his own premier youth club with 5 teams and 86 players. He shared his love of Arsenal with his players and their parents. Arsenal was a great example of doing things right, possessing the ball and always playing forward.  Pete and Tyler share a love for Thierry Henry with Tyler often wearing #14 in honor of the current NYRB striker.

Tyler training in his Trinity boots

Pete shared his support for Robin Van Persie, but was quick to point out his disappointment on Samir Nasri’s move to Manchester City. “With him chasing the dollars, I watch him but no longer support him the way I did. His skill, talent, and vision are unbelievable.”

Living in NE Ohio makes Pete and Tyler natural fans of the University of Akron men’s soccer program and Caleb Porter.  Porter plays an attractive style of attacking soccer, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

“He just oozes that level of commitment long-term,” Pete continued.  ”It’s not just wanting to win this week or this season. He’s laying the foundation that will be in place for some time.”

It is clear that this father and son combination exemplify all that is good about the game: bringing people together, working hard, and sharing a common bond. It is our pleasure to have Tyler and Pete Walters as the first Pelé Sports Fan Ambassadors of 2012.

Pelé is unquestionably the world’s greatest soccer ambassador, spreading his love of the Beautiful Revolution wherever he goes. He has become the game’s strongest supporter and has been the source of inspiration for millions around the globe. From the streets of New York to the fields of South Africa, Pelé Sports is a name synonymous with passion, creativity and innovating the game the way it should be played. A world without Pelé would be a world without soccer with millions missing out on the joy and the Beautiful Revolution we all love in this game.

Today’s supporters carry on the prestigious legacy of Pelé, growing and promoting the game in their own communities and passing the torch to a new generation of footballers. Mainstream media outlets have failed to give a face to these fans, people who do extraordinary things everyday and have stories that deserve to be told.

Whether it is an Iraqi War veteran who is a passionate supporter of his favorite MLS side or a student making an impact on the college game, the concept of ambassadorship is alive and well here in North America. Today’s supporters are not hooligans or fanatics or even überfans, but rather gatekeepers to the true spirit of the beautiful game.

International Soccer Network, in conjunction with Pelé Sports, plans to celebrate the contributions of North American soccer fans every month with a new series of feature articles.