Steve Coxon: We certainly had excellent numbers (87 players), and we have invited back 37 to our 2nd tryout on January 20th. The quality was pretty much as expected which was a real mixed bag. There was plenty of ex-college players and a few current college players. Besides the 37 players invited back, we are expecting around another 50 hopefuls to the 2nd tryout. The word is starting to spread!
SB: The club recently named David Kelly as Head Coach, what made Kelly stick out in your mind to be the first head coach of the Azul?
SC: We hired Dave Kelly who is the current Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach at Southern Connecticut State University. We both played together on the Connecticut Wolves of the A-league [now USL Pro]. He is a highly respected coach in Connecticut as he’s worked with Dan Gasper at Hartford and now Tom Lang at SCSU.
SB: Is the club looking to form any links with USL Pro teams, MLS teams, or International clubs? If so, any insight on which teams?
SC: We certainly are...however, one of the first things we have found out about building a club from scratch is the sheer amount of work that needs to be done. Just dealing with 160 players for the two tryouts alone is a full time task. We are working with a consultant that is very, very familiar with this business and we are going to lean on his expertise to help us work with the European teams. At the moment our priorities are building a team, securing a venue and sponsors/advertisers.
SC: One of the main reasons we started this franchise was that the "soccer people" in the state really had nowhere to call home, no place to get together and have a bit of banter about the game.... already in the 5 weeks we have been up and running, the AZUL seems to have filled that void. Come to our office any day of the week and you will find soccer types hanging around and we haven't even kicked a ball yet. Being able to create this buzz so early about CFC Azul will help in building a strong brand, which over the next few months will make it easier to secure sponsors and down the road will give us a large fan base at home games.
SB: Serious questions out of the way, I'm sure over the course of the last 6 weeks their have been some memorable/funny moments, how about you share at least one?
SC: When you start a new franchise you literally have nothing but a concept. We flew to Clearwater, Florida for the United Soccer Leagues AGM with nothing but an idea and our luggage. We didn’t have a business card, or a flyer, and to make matters worse we even lost the luggage. Each of us attending the meeting with literally 7 titles each…coach, marketer, president, general manager etc. In the end we basically named ourselves "Directors of everything....and yet nothing". Thankfully we have progressed dramatically since then!!!!